Windows 8: Microsoft tries to rein in crapware

Windows 8: Microsoft tries to rein in crapware

Bloatware may still creep onto your new PC, even though Microsoft is reportedly getting ready to take on Windows 8 bloat.

Windows 8 may be the most significant reimagining of Microsoft's OS in more than 15 years, but it still won't change one eternal rule of Microsoft-powered PCs: wherever Windows goes, bloatware follows. Microsoft and its users have long complained to hardware makers about the amount of extra software that manufacturers include with Windows PCs such as extra media-playing software or trial versions of antivirus programs.

It sounds like the bloatware wars will favor users when Windows 8 launches later this year. But extra software may still creep onto your new Dell, HP, or Lenovo PC, even though Microsoft is reportedly getting ready to take on Windows 8 bloat.

Signature Upgrades

To fight off bloatware, Microsoft plans to offer Windows 8 users its $99 Signature Upgrade service available at Microsoft Stores across the US, according to PCWorld's sister site Computerworld. Signature upgrade is an extension of the Microsoft Store's Signature PC program that offers Windows 7 PCs tweaked for speed and performance, and the devices come without any manufacturer bloatware. If you didn't buy your PC from the Microsoft Store, all you have to do is walk into one of the software maker's 22 retail locations in the US, plunk down a hundred bucks, and a day or two later your bloat-free PC is ready to go.

Microsoft says compared to a regular PC, a Signature PC can go to sleep 23.1 percent faster, starts-up 39.6 percent faster, and can resume 51.3 percent sooner.

Metro and Bloatware

To get onto your computer, most Metro apps have to be approved by Microsoft and then distributed through the Windows Store, similar to how you download apps for your iPhone, Android or Windows Phone device. But it's not clear whether the Windows Store would curb or prohibit device makers from installing Metro-style bloatware before their PCs ship.

Metro and Peripherals

Even if Metro-style bloatware rears its ugly head, Microsoft is trying to keep peripherals from filling up your machine with unneeded junk. Microsoft is pushing makers of webcams, printers, cameras, and other devices to focus on supporting the Metro side of Windows 8 instead of the traditional desktop.

In Microsoft's ideal scenario, you would connect your new Canon all-in-one printer to your PC and then Windows 8 would automatically download Canon's supporting app from the Windows Store. Microsoft in September said it would limit hardware makers to offering just one Metro app per external device.

Of course, in an ideal world most of your peripherals wouldn't bother with supporting apps at all. Do you really need that snazzy interface from Iomega to use your external hard drive? I didn't think so. The good news is deleting a Metro-style app will be a fairly easy process, so if you don't want an HP specially-designed printer interface, you can nuke it pretty quickly.

Windows 8 is expected to launch on new PCs around October 2012. A second consumer preview of the new OS is expected in the first week of June.

Connect with Ian Paul (@ianpaul) on Twitter and Google+, and with Today@PCWorld on Twitter for the latest tech news and analysis.

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