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March 11, 2015

The Saga of Pre-Installed Software

Filed under: Main — Tags: , — admin @ 12:01 am

Some call it crapware. I prefer bloatware. Whatever you call it, the name applies to software pre-installed on a computer. Sometimes the software consists of useful tools, such as anti-virus, the Acrobat Reader, or even a productivity suite. Recently the trend has been for actual malware to be pre-installed, which I find a bit unsettling.

Laste month, Lenovo got in trouble for some of its pre-installed bloatware: Read the eWeek Article for details.

If you recall, IBM sold their PC business to Lenovo several years back. I buy Lenovo laptops and currently have two desktop systems. They’re good systems with excellent warranty coverage.

Lenovo has been publicly spanked for installing bloatware called Superfish.

No, I’m not going to provide a link to Superfish.

Superfish is one of those programs that claims to do one thing, but most likely does something else. In this case, it’s Adware, or spyware, that sends information about your browsing habits to advertisers. The problem is that more than advertising information could be sent and intercepted, which makes the software a potential security risk — and by pre-installing the software, Lenovo has seriously screwed up.

This tale of unwanted software coming pre-installed on a PC is an old story.

When PCs were selling like hell back in the 1990s, manufacturers frequently junked them up with all sorts of bloatware. My advice from early editions of PCs For Dummies was not to install anything until you’ve used the computer for a while: Just say no!

Eventually, as you got to know the system, look over the software offerings and install what you want. Remove what you don’t need. Simple.

Modern bloatware is a bit different, apparently. I wouldn’t know, because I’ve not been faced with any. My guess is that you’re prompted to install it when you first setup the computer. My fear is that you have no choice, and it’s installed whether you want it or not. That would be terrible.

One proposed solution is often to wipe your new PC and reinstall Windows and all the drivers by using the optical discs that came with the system. That seems like a pain.

I think a better option would be for the manufacturers — especially the reputable ones, like Lenovo — not to put the crap on the system in the first place!

2 Comments

  1. The last OEM box I bought myself was a Thinkpad in 2011, which had a copy of Norton Virus preinstalled. As soon as I saw that pop up, I shut it down and reached for my Windows 7 Pro box.

    My grandma had to get a new computer recently and we picked out an inexpensive Dell. All it had in the way of preinstalled bloatware was a trial copy of Office 365 and McAffe.

    Comment by linuxlove — March 11, 2015 @ 7:57 pm

  2. I kept putting off my Norton registration on my last Lenovo for about a year. Then it stopped bugging me. I know how to disable the thing, but I hardly ever cycle the power, so it was easy to ignore the prompts.

    The local shop where I get my latest hardware doesn’t install anything extra. The only thing I don’t like is that they setup Windows for you, and give you the account name “User.” You can try to change it, but the directory structure still says “User.” Ugh.

    Comment by admin — March 11, 2015 @ 8:16 pm

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