Well, it’s July and for anyone with a PC running Windows 7 or *gasp!* Windows 8 that should be significant – Because the long awaited release of Windows 10 is almost upon us. On July 29th the latest offering in the Windows ecosystem will debut, hopefully addressing many of the issues that left us PC users wondering what it might feel like to migrate over to the Mac side of things.
To make sure they get it right this time, Microsoft has enlisted the help of about 4 million beta testers who have shaped the OS in some capacity or another. And the initial reviews, based on their feedback and the technical preview is that this time Microsoft makes the mark. I find this to be a huge relief as I’m sure do all the other people who can’t stand to jump on any bandwagon, and certainly not the Apple bandwagon, just because “the cool kids are doing it”. There is a new, yet familiar start menu that’s fairly reminiscent of Windows 7 (let’s just pretend that Windows 8 thing never really happened, okay?), it boasts super-enhanced security specs, including multi-factor authentication and has a new browser called Edge, intended to eventually phase out Internet Explorer. And in an exciting move Microsoft has decided to do something to address the issue of bloatware.
What is Bloatware?
Bloatware is the software that comes with brand spankin’ new PCs, straight out of the box. While this may not sound like the biggest threat in a world of Duqu 2.0 and OPM attacks, it’s an issue that is sorely in need of resolving. Remember the Superfish debacle back in February of this year? Between November 2014 and February 2015, 16 million new Lenovos shipped that included the visual discovery tool Superfish. The technology according to Mark Cohen, VP of Windows Ecosystem at Lenovo, was seen as “a value add, rather than adware”. In reality it compromised users security by including code that created fake SSL certificates, making their internet traffic easily hackable. Lenovo eventually apologized and promised to stop adding this and all other unwanted bloatware to their new PC’s and include only what’s “required to make hardware work well”.
This is not a new phenomenon at all. In fact, computer manufacturers have been pre-loading PCs for years with bloatware ranging from the relatively innocuous Netflix or antivirus programs to more frustrating ones such as unwanted browser toolbars and add-ons. A quick Googling of the key words “bloatware, new PC “ will spit back pages of articles and forums dedicated to years worth of frustrated consumers, all trying to get rid of the garbage their PC came with.
For the sake of being fair, most bloatware is not as dangerous as Superfish was proven to be but it still presents many issues for end users. When a computer is filled with worthless trash it, not only decreases its functionality, but its value as well. With all that memory being dedicated to unnecessary programs, there is precious little space left for the programs you actually want. Since they are hard to remove, they lump around using up resources and put a strain on your PC’s hard drive. And as we saw with Superfish, bloatware can potentially become an entry point for dangerous malware and viruses.
How Exactly Does Microsoft Plan on Solving the Bloatware Issue?
So is Microsoft putting the brakes on bloatware all together? Well, not exactly. Sadly, manufacturers will still be able to alter the computer’s state with the addition of software (which by the way, creates additional revenue for them…. Wait for it, wait for it, AHA! Now you’re starting to understand what this is really about!) But here is the difference – Now in Windows 10, due to enhanced reset and refresh capabilities, a user will be able to “bring Windows devices back to a pristine state” with the click of a button, according to Microsoft. In plain English: By following some simple refresh instructions, even non tech-savvy users will be able to get rid of the bloatware their PC came crammed with.
This definitely makes us want to upgrade to Windows 10 when it finally arrives, and anyway it looks like any Windows 7 and 8 users who don’t upgrade for free in the first year will have to pay to do so after a certain date. If their claims are true, it seems like a no-brainer. In the immortal words of Miller Lite, “Less filling, tastes great” or more appropriately, Less bloatware, more security. That works for us!