You know how when you buy a new PC it usually comes not just with the latest version of Microsoft Windows, but also umpteen different apps and special offers cluttering the desktop? There’s a decent chance you don’t actually want or need most of those programs — and they may even be slowing down your PC.
That’s why Microsoft has launched a program it calls Signature Series. You can now buy select computers from Microsoft stores without any bloatware preloaded. Microsoft also optimizes Windows settings for each system before selling it. And All Things D’s Walt Mossberg says the difference is that most Signature Series computers are faster than the systems as configured by PC makers such as HP, Samsung, or Sony.
If you happen to live near a Microsoft Store you can also take any Windows computer into the shop and have Microsoft essentially turn it into a Signature Series machine by removing unnecessary software and optimizing settings. They’ll charge you $99 for the privilege.
Interestingly, there’s a free app which has been doing something similar for years. It’s called The PC Decrapifier, and basically it lets you selectively remove most of the apps that PC makers preload on their computers to improve system performance.
I highly recommend running the app after setting up a new store-bought computer, at least to see what unnecessary software comes with the PC so you can decide whether or not you really want to keep it.
You don’t have to pay $99 to use PC Decrapifier, but I get the feeling Microsoft’s Signature Series service is aimed at less computer-savvy users who don’t want to delete the wrong things by accident.
There are a number of reasons PC makers preload apps on computers. Some are system configuration tools which might actually come in handy. Others are free trials of software that effectively serve as ads — and which software makers pay to get onto your PC, helping subsidize the cost of the computer.
Even Microsoft Signature Series computers come with some apps that are probably optional, including Microsoft’s photo, video, and other apps and a starter edition of Microsoft Office — but these can all be removed.
The company also includes Microsoft Security Essentials, a free anti-virus suite which offers much of the same functionality as you would get the free trial software from Norton, McAffee, Kaspersky and others that PC makers love to load on new computers. But Security Essentials uses fewer system resources and won’t constantly bug you to pay for a subscription.