Toshiba: "Don't Delete Bloatware If You Know What's Good For You"

A reader writes in to report that when he bought a new laptop direct from Toshiba in November, he triggered a blue screen of death as he was uninstalling the always-useful bloatware that came pre-loaded. He called a Service Rep, got the usual “reinstall everything” run-around, and then finally got escalated to a level-two tech, which is when things got ridiculous.

the techs put me through to a level-two tech who, and I quote verbatim (because I asked him to repeat the line to me multiple times) accused me of “breaking my computer by attempting to uninstall bloatware.” I said, “do you even know what bloatware is,” and he said “yes, and it may be your fault that your computer is broken because you tried to uninstall it.” I asked if I was supposed to check with Toshiba every time I added or removed a program from my computer. He had no answer for that.

This wasn’t the only bad experience the reader reported. Toshiba also refused to price-match the laptop to their Black Friday discount, because the discount was “we’ll pay your sales tax” and, according to the CSR who promised the original price-matching, it isn’t technically a price reduction.

Oh, and after the bloatware incident, Toshiba sent our reader a new hard drive—to the wrong address. And they “forgot” to schedule a tech to come install it.

Toshiba does not sound like a good direct-sales destination.

(Thanks to W.!)

Comments

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  1. Binaryslyder says:

    Maybe that’s why macs are more expensive. Mine didn’t come with any bloatware, freeware or otherware.

    In the past when I have bought PC’s I always stipulate that prior to purchase they either remove all bloatware or give me a steep discount for having to do it myself.
    Worked with Dell and Compusa. Guess not toshiba.

  2. socalrob of the 24 and a half century says:

    Looks like he tried to uninstall Vista.

  3. azntg says:

    Deleting one of the Toshiba bloatware that came with my laptop actually triggered a known Windows Vista bug (DVD drive disappearing). Thankfully, the level two rep was nice enough to provide me a solution.

    I eventually gave up with Vista and went back to XP.
    Even though my laptop doesn’t come with XP drivers, I inquired about them to the level two rep. Long story short, he gave me an unofficial blessing. I’ve managed to find compatible ones and installed XP. Lost a couple of functionality (e.g.: dialup modem and some nifty diagnostic tools, but it’s not like I am ever going to use them anyway). Happy camper ever since.

  4. GBirdii says:

    @ BINARYSLYDER

    You pay extra for something my 10 year old sister can do in a few minutes?

  5. STrRedWolf says:

    Ugh. Grab a copy of Ubuntu or Kubuntu, burn the CD, and install.

  6. Bay State Darren says:

    I imagine the next Toshita reps this guy gets escalated to will just put him on speakerphone and loudly mock:

    “I don’t hear anything, do you?”

    “Yeah, maybe like the buzzing of a little tiny annoying mosquito. I think it’s saying ‘I’m a stupid dummy who deleted all this cool software Toshiba was kind enough to give me and wrecked my once-awesome computer’.”

    “Gee, that mosquito is annoying. Let’s ignore it.”

  7. Techguy1138 says:

    This does make sense to some degree. You can REALLY mess things up if you start removing windows components without knowing what they do.

    Techs have limited resources to diagnose and fix problems. It is most helpful if they start with a standard platform, even if it is sub-optimal for some users.

    If the problem is not very simple to fix reinstalling the shipped software is the next step.

    Apple would say the same if you started messing with OSX libraries that are installed.

  8. ceejeemcbeegee is not here says:

    .

  9. motoraway says:

    @Binaryslyder:

    Imagine that, reference to a mac in the post. Somehow I’m not surprised…

  10. swedub says:

    I bought a new Toshiba laptop a couple months ago with Vista pre-installed. What a pain in the arse. The USB and built-in SD Card reader wouldn’t work and their website didn’t have a single driver or other download available for this laptop and Vista. After about a week I gave up and installed Ubuntu. The only thing that didn’t work right away was the sound and internal wifi. Luckily there is a boat-load of forum posts and other search results which helped me get the sound working within 24 hours and I found a USB wifi adapter which worked shortly after plugging it in. I’m sure there is more user experience with Ubuntu and the internal wifi by now but I just haven’t had the time to mess with it some more. It works great at the moment and I believe I am finally XP/Vista-free, yippee. I wish I could return the the pre-installed Vista for a refund.

  11. clevershark says:

    So Symantec bloatware and those annoying ISP offers are the equivalent of Mac OS X system libraries now? I’m intrigued by your ideas and would like to subscribe to your newsletter!

  12. ThomasD3 says:

    The PCs are somehow subsidized by companies making crap that won’t sell by itself (like Norton). So they pay the PC manufacturer to have a 6 month demo installed for example.

    The problem is that a lot of these are poorly written and uninstalling them will leave a lot of garbage on the PC, and removing all their files will sometimes break things.

    These tools are usually installed under the admin account, so you can not blame vista for this because if you take the crappiest software and install it as root under linux or a mac, the same kind of problem will happen. It’s just that Linux software authors tend to like making things clean, companies like Norton and Adobe have a not understood the concept in the last decades.

  13. Sam Glover says:

    @Techguy1138:

    Do you even know what bloatware is?

  14. thewriteguy says:

    Sounds like it could be an issue related to a utility that was un-installed which handled the graphics for the notebook. This could be a big problem, especially if the OS in question was Vista.

    I recently purchased a new notebook. First thing I did was simply wipe out Vista and install XP. I didn’t even bother to boot the notebook with Vista at all. I figured it took me far less time to do a clean install of XP than to boot into Vista, wrangle with it, and un-install all of the crapware.

  15. hanoverfiste says:

    Look at PC Decrapifier pcdecrapifier.com per there site:

    “The PC Decrapifier will uninstall many of the common trialware and annoyances found on many of the PCs from big name OEMs. Below is the current list of software and items that the PC Decrapifier can detect and remove. You get to see the list of items it detects and then choose what will be removed automatically.”

    Been using it for about a year now and carry it on my usb drive. First program I run when I help somebody set up their new pc.

  16. dunkinbean says:

    Hmm. Was contemplating giving myself a new laptop for Christmas, a Toshiba being one of my finalists. Not anymore. I’d be installing Xubuntu anyways, but this sort of attitude has no excuse.

  17. clevershark says:

    Vista’s distribution model takes this bad situation and makes it considerably worse. Notice how you don’t get a restore disk anymore when you buy a PC. Any restoring you do has to be off a stupid 8 gigabyte partition that’s taken away from your PC for a nebulous installation package. You’re allowed to create disks from this. Once. After you’ve done that the data in the partition self-destructs (seriously, it gets erased).

    Now what happens when the disk creation wizard doesn’t work? You end up with a useless “restore partition” with 256MB or so of data in it. That happened to me after I bought some not-terribly-good HP Tablet PC recently. I had to shell out almost $40 for something that should have come with my computer.

    The lessons I draw from this are that HP, despite the appearances being in their favor, don’t appear to know WTF they’re doing with their “recovery” software (or maybe they shipped it broken because it’s a good revenue generator). And that if you buy an off-the-shelf computer with Vista on it you’re a bit of a sucker. I know it’s not something I’m going to do again.

  18. guroth says:

    I see laptops of varying make and model all year long and Toshiba’s are at the bottom of my list as far as physical product quality goes, I wouldn’t be surprised if the rest of the product quality matches.

  19. thewriteguy says:

    @Clevershark

    This notebook I got from Dell has a Vista restore DVD. It’s the entire operating system and all the trialware. Some companies will include the full operating system on a separate disc. I recommend to anyone purchasing a new notebook that comes with Vista to ensure that it comes with a restore disc, especially if you intend to install another operating system onto it.

  20. uricmu says:

    Toshiba makes horrible horrible horrible laptops. They combine the clunkiness of a desktop with the technical reliability of an XBOX 360.

    Actually, macs come with a lot of useful bloatware, one of the reasons to buy them. I wouldn’t buy a video editing program, but iDvd and IMovie are good enough.

  21. Buran says:

    @motoraway: Imagine that, a reference to a satisfied customer in the post. Somehow, I’m not surprised….

  22. Buran says:

    @thewriteguy: The problem is that those restore the bloatware, too, which ruins the whole point of uninstalling it.

  23. Buran says:

    @clevershark: That’s not the OS’s fault, that’s bad-retailer-policy’s fault.

  24. Pylon83 says:

    If you don’t like the bloatware, buy a Mac. Or buy an IBM/Lenovo. I think they are relatively clean, especially compared to HP’s and Dells. However, it’s much easier if you just buy a Mac. Did I mention Mac’s don’t have bloatware/spyware/viruses (for the most part)?

  25. Coder4Life says:

    I used to work at COMPUSA they used to remove bloatware for $20 or something. They were told they could no longer do that as a contract they had for selling name brand computers.

    Computer companies get kick backs each tiem someone buys something from those trial ware…

  26. XTC46 says:

    @Binaryslyder: yes, one reason Macs are more expensive is the lack of bloatware. The bloatware vendors pay to have it installed on the computers and you see that savings.

    and the tech you talked to is an idiot, uninstalling bloatware does not ruin a computer (I do it on every computer we buy for our company)

    @Pylon83: lenovo doesnt have as much trial software (aside from Symantec garbage) but they load a lot of their own crap like their “wireless connection manager” and “presentation director” all stuff you don’t need and that slow the computer down.

  27. drjayphd says:

    @motoraway: Yeah, first comment, no less. And only five comments until the first “INSTALL LINUX!” comment. Color me impressed.

  28. bobhope2112 says:

    As a local technical smartass, I frequently get requests from friends, family, friends of family, ad nauseum, for a purchase recommendation. Custom system builds are almost always the best, but for a web browser, it’s hard to beat HP/Compaq, Dell, Gateway/eMachine’s entry level prices.

    In those situations where I am recommending a disposable, I make sure to tell them that their one drop dead point should be if they get an Operating System only (with or without drivers) installation disc. If they don’t, and they can’t burn one from the factory fresh hard drive, they should just shoot them a bird and move on.

    Then, when they get their system, I recommend that they immediately reinstall the OS and their drivers. So far, it’s turned out that any applications they’ve wanted have either been useful enough to come on their own installation discs, or have (thankfully) been included on a piecewise installer.

    Hopefully their (and my) noise about standalone installers is being (dimly, at least) heard at the big pc manufacturers.

  29. b612markt says:

    It really is a shame that so many new PCs come with bloatware. I used to loathe getting a new PC because of that. Thank goodness that they rarely come with AOL anymore!

    It’s funny that Mac fanboys think that Macs don’t come with any garbage on them. I bought a Mac for the first time in my life this year, and was ready for a crapware-trialware-bloatware free experience.

    Upon investigating the installed applications I found a seriously heinous 30-day trial of Microsoft Office.

    Macintosh machines are not immune to this epidemic.

    (I use OpenOffice/Neo Office and Google Documents)

  30. StevieD says:

    What “you” call “bloatware” is called “desirable” by somebody else so says the computer manufacturer.

    Personally I think Adobe Acrobat Reader is bloatware as the product must call home in violation of my personal security, yet computer manufacturers stick that stupid application on every computer.

    When I buy a computer the only product that I want installed is the OS. Anything else installed is bloatware.

    BTW, Mac’s don’t have bloatware? What do you call Quicktime player?

  31. Xerloq says:

    Isn’t Toshiba one of the lowest rated PC manufacturers? I remember owning my Satellite 5205. I wish I had known about Consumerist then. Maybe the EECB would have helped. Alas, some pore schmo on eBay got it when it wouldn’t charge the battery.

    I don’t think I’d buy another.

  32. louisb3 says:

    @StevieD: A necessity for playing media?

    Sure, there are alternatives out there, but the few users that hate QuickTime are far fewer than the users that are pissed at a lack of out-of-the-box media player.

  33. louisb3 says:

    @louisb3: that is, *would be* pissed.

  34. r12ski says:

    Mac fanboy checking in here. Just wanted to point out that one of the only instances of bloatware on a Mac is a Microsoft product.

  35. jamar0303 says:

    Toshiba Japan’s customer service is much more satisfying… I mean, they’re smarter than their US counterparts, it looks like.

  36. parad0x360 says:

    wow so man misinformed posts here its crazy!

    Ok 1st, removing programs from the add/remove menu should never break vista contrary to what someone said above. There is a deeper issue with some of the pre-installed software doing something to vista that it shouldnt be. Only way to fix it is to figure out what app it was and find a fix online or call the developer. MS wont be able to help as it isnt their issue.

    Next up, distribution method again is not MS’s fault. You dont get restore disks anymore because OEM’s figure its cheaper to partition the drive and put the OS on there, then let YOU make the install disk at home on a cd or dvd-r. They also only give you the option of making it once so if you lose it you are screwed.

    All this hate on Vista. I have a laptop and a pc running it. The pc came with XP PRO and i got it a year before Vista. Never a single issue. Laptop was purchased about 4 months after Vista came out and again never an issue. Maybe all these Vista problems people are having arent..meaning maybe its the user.

  37. LordKDp says:

    Of all the great things I hear about Toshiba, this has to happen? Well I’ll be damned. I wonder what other companies would say on this subject. Anyone want to volunteer some time to call Dell, HP/Compaq and Acer/Gateway?

  38. rockergal says:

    when I bought my IBM/Lenovo it came with only one piece of bloatware. ONLY ONE! and uninstalling took 1-2 minutes. I don’t even buy desktops anymore, I just build em. and throw a niece OEM OS on it.

  39. ninjatales says:

    @r12ski: Well pointed out.

    And that tech doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

  40. Cary says:

    I am a reseller and can pass along some info.

    First, Toshiba, once upon a time, made great laptops. Several years ago, the final year I sold them, EVERY one failed during the first year.

    I switched to building whitebook Asus machines (I added the CPU, RAM, HDD, optical drive, and wireless card). Performance is great but Asus is worse than abysmal at providing parts (even under warranty).

    I’m now recommending HP’s corporate machines. They usually have a 3 year warranty and, as corporate machines, don’t have the crapware that the retail machines do.

    Yes, they cost more because of the warranty and that lack of revenue from the crapware, but they work… they have to. That also explains the positive comment about the Lenovos… IBM left the mass-merchant arena years ago when their Acer-buit Aptivas fell apart. If you own a recent Dell desktop you really don’t want to know where all those Acer motherboards IBM doesn’t want are going.

  41. XianZomby says:

    I bought a case, motherboard, hard drive, video card, monitor, memory, processor, sound card, printer, CD/DVD burner and Vista Home Basic separately from Best Buy and a computer show that comes to town every month. I didn’t ask anybody questions about what to buy and didn’t ask for any advice. I researched online. When I got home and put it all together, I was up and running in about 6 hours. No BSODs. And everything (but the sound card) worked. It wasn’t till about 4 months later that the sound card people released a Vista driver. Now I’m running spyware/bloatware free, have all my memory available to me, and know what all the non-MS processes and software does.

    If you want a low cost prebuilt computer system, ask yourself how it is a manufacturer can afford to put everything together at such an attractive price. Don’t be surprised if the answer is “bloatware.” Nothing is free.

  42. rjhiggins says:

    OK, the tech didn’t handle this well, but…

    You don’t tell us what you were uninstalling when you got the BSOD. Maybe something you considered bloatware was in fact a key Windows update. Once you start uninstalling and/or installing software you’re somewhat on your own. At that point you really need to take responsibility for my own actions.

    And if I’m a tech I have no way of knowing how badly you might have screwed up your system. I’m sure you think you’re a savvy user who couldn’t possibly be at fault, but techs run into plenty of people who think they’re far more competent than they really are.

  43. Charles Duffy says:

    My wife’s laptop is a Toshiba sold by Office Depot. Suffice to say that I’m never, ever buying another; we haven’t had trouble with the warranty service being refused, but it’s needed its motherboard replaced twice in the first six months!

    @parad0x360: I’ve had all kinds of pain with vista on account of their removal of support for “obsolete” hardware. Take their network drivers, for instance — no NE2K PCI support, no PCNET32 support, no RTL8139 support. Or their sound drivers — no support for the original SB16. That’s ridiculous!

    Yes, I have a system fast enough to run Vista with all that hardware available. It’s hosted by a high-end Linux box using the KVM virtualization system (this is Vista Business, hence virtualization being allowed by the license) — so the emulated hardware is all devices which have been around long enough to be supported by any OS which even pretends to have adequate driver support.

    Except, apparently, Vista.

    Anyhow — no, not necessarily the user’s problem. NE2K clones and RTL8139 chipsets are insanely common as on-motherboard networking chipsets, yet neither works out-of-the-box without drivers installed. I get better hardware support on XP — and vastly better hardware support on Linux.

  44. rickhamilton620 says:

    @thewriteguy: Actually, the Dell DVD is a standard Windows Vista disk with zero bloatware on it. The only other CD contains the Drivers for your system. All other added software is included on seperate CD’s to install later.

    Only the “PC Restore” partition on your hard drive contains a bloatware filled Vista image.

  45. RvLeshrac says:

    @clevershark:

    You lose, thanks for playing! Try again!

    Nothing happens to the data in the restore partition. HP just makes everything worse by assigning it a drive letter – causing the OS to think that the ‘drive’ is full. That’s really the only problem.

    I’m against not including restore discs, but don’t lodge baseless complaints.

    @Charles Duffy:

    You can complain about Vista’s hardware support only so long as you don’t say ANYTHING about the security or stability of older Windows releases.

    Microsoft has been including support for older hardware and software for years, to the detriment of the OS. I don’t see anyone complaining about not being able to use OS9 software or PPC hardware on new intel Macs, despite the fact that PPC emulation is painfully easy on new hardware.

    During the Whistler and Longhorn betas, I saw nothing but complaints from ‘IT’ personnel about how tighter security would break their networks, and how removing support for older 16-bit DOS apps would cause their businesses to spend tons of money switching applications. This was followed by complaints about security and stability. You’d think that these people would understand that direct hardware access is a source of instability, and that kernel-level access to the OS is a source of insecurity. They don’t.

    Blame the business customers for the problems Windows faces, not the developer. Microsoft’s goal, like every other commercial developer, is to sell software. If the biggest customers whine about the OS not supporting some early-1980s crapware in-house accounting or inventory software, they have no choice but to include support – no matter what it does to the OS.

  46. RvLeshrac says:

    @rjhiggins:

    Not to mention the fact that some of the Toshiba/Dell/HP/Sony ‘bloatware’ is, in fact, vital to the operation of the system. Not all of it by a long-shot, but you have to be careful about what you remove.

    Can you remove the software that puts the top-heavy alpha-blending-laden toolbar at the top of your screen? Sure, just be aware that doing so might also kill the software that allows you to use the Fn-keys.

    Can you remove the crap WiFi connection manager software? Sure, just be aware that it may also remove the WiFi drivers.

    On another note, for those that want to JUST install drivers when the drivers are included only in a package (Sony comes to mind here), Universal Extractor combines a bunch of command-line extraction tools into a reasonably easy-to-use GUI. It won’t handle everything, but it works great for extracting Sony updates – very necessary if you want to put XP on a VAIO shipped with Vista.

    [legroom.net]

  47. arachnophilia says:

    of course, people CAN break their computers attempting to uninstall bloatware by accidentally removing critical software in the process. it’s not always the case that because someone knows what bloatware is in general that they then also specifically what is and what is not bloatware.

    it’s actually the most likely explanation. unless toshiba is specifically causing system faults when you remove their bloat. which also wouldn’t surprise me.

  48. RvLeshrac says:

    @parad0x360:

    Actually, it *is* partially Microsoft’s fault. They charge far more for a license which includes the right to distribute restore media.

    @guroth:

    I haven’t seen many problems with Toshibas.

    The plus of buying a Toshiba is that they, along with Lenovo, allow their ASPs to work on the machines in-house. Easy enough to find a reliable local shop, and far better than trusting the idiot techs at HP, Dell, and Sony. I’ve seen retarded gibbons that do a better job than those tools. You can also be certain that the local shop is just going to, say, replace the motherboard, instead of soldering on replacement parts.

    Your local shop is also less likely to wipe the HDD as part of troubleshooting. If your problem is that a key fell off the keyboard, the idiots at the manufacturer will still wipe the machine.

  49. RvLeshrac says:

    @arachnophilia:

    I’ve cleaned off enough Toshibas, Dells, Lenovos, VAIOs, HP/Compaqs, and Acers to know that there are things you can and can’t remove. I’ve never seen a bluescreen except when removing ‘vital’ software, though the definition of ‘vital’ can differ between users and the machine.

  50. Buran says:

    @drjayphd: What do you have against satisfied customers?

  51. Buran says:

    @b612markt: While Macs do come with demoware, it’s quite easy to remove – just drag it to the trash and empty the trash. Gone. PC bloatware can make a far more annoying mess. My main problem with the Office demo is that I’ve had people come to me asking why their Office install just deactivated itself, which means their files were still opening in the demo, not the full version they installed. Not supposed to happen, but it does happen. To get rid of that problem you have to put the demo folder in the trash and empty the trash.

  52. TechnoDestructo says:

    You need a tech to install a notebook drive?

    Hell, it’s easier on a notebook than on a desktop.

  53. namram says:

    @RvLeshrac:

    Replace the motherboard, huh? In my friend’s case the local shop managed to replace it with one without a 9600 mobility and put back half the ram (1gb to 512). Of course they didn’t notice this until much later. This was on an M30x that had issues charging, where a little solder would have probably been enough.

  54. Trai_Dep says:

    There’s a program called PC Decrapifier that does nothing else but remove all the unwanted ad-ware/bloatware crap that PC mfrs foist unwillingly on their customers? A stand-alone, commercial program? That’s so needed that an entire company makes enough money to hire large numbers of people?!

    Whoa, sweet holy baby Jesus. That’s so wrong I don’t know where to begin.

    C’mon over guys, the water’s fine. Really!

  55. Beld says:

    @RvLeshrac: Hear hear about the ASP program for Toshiba. I had the bad fortune to have a loose screw in the case of my laptop that decided to short out the power supply on my way to college destroying the motherboard. I dropped it off at a nice ASP, they took out the HDD in front of me so I could put it in one of my extra enclosures and called me with status updates regularly from then on out. It really was an excellent experience, and I doubt Dell or IBM would have been so supportive in not only letting me keep the hard drive but also operating within the one day that I still had a car to visit service centers/get to a shipping center.

    Now, granted, the ASP that was suggested was probably one of the best Toshiba has, but, still, at least it is easier to get in touch with a small business than a huge faceless corporation like Dell if they aren’t coming through.

    Further, when I accidently slashed my AC adapter’s cords (don’t ask), it was a simple matter of going to a service station ten minutes away and picking one up. I did not have to deal with a call center or wait for shipping with a powerless laptop.

    As far as “bloatware” on my Toshiba was concerned, dealing with it really was trivial. I had no issues whatsoever, and still have not. I did keep some of the “bloatware” that was not loaded into RAM at startup, mainly a program that can change some BIOS settings in Windows.

    I have a hard time believing that uninstalling the default-installed programs catastrophically destroyed his system. I realize this is ad hominem, but, honestly, if the poster needed a tech to come and install a notebook hard drive (a matter of unscrewing a few screws and sliding the new hard drive into a tray), he probably should not be haphazardly uninstalling programs, given that drivers nowadays have a nack for being added to “Add/Remove Programs”.

  56. Trai_Dep says:

    Wait. On a PC, if there’s an application you don’t like, you can’t simply drag its folder into the trash and it’s gone forever, without hosing your OS so badly that you need reinstall your HD from scratch? Your HD?!

    (drops head in disbelief)

    Whoa, sweet holy pink baby Jesus…

  57. RvLeshrac says:

    @trai_dep:

    If MS had been allowed to design Vista the same way Apple designed OSX, this wouldn’t be a problem.

    However, people shake the ‘monopoly’ stick at Microsoft and leave Apple alone. If it hadn’t been for McAffee and Symantec threatening lawsuits, the NT6 kernel would be secure, and the system-wide registry would be locked away, safe from idiot developers who can’t seem to follow the proper procedures.

    HKCU is for the current user, HKU is for global users, and HKLM is for the system. Why developers can’t get this through their thick skulls is beyond me. There’s no requirement that an application even use the registry, and there are system variables that point to the users’ appdata directories.

    Keep in mind that there are some applications that can’t simply be deleted on a Mac, as well. There are classes of applications that require some measure of access to the OS, but the number is much smaller than the developers would like you to think.

  58. EtherealStrife says:

    The problem is that new owners are FORCED to take these risks because of all the crap that’s loaded on their systems. My vaio was idling at 90% mem use and 55% cpu, with nothing run since startup. It’s ridiculous how much these computers are laden down with absolute crap. To use the computer for anything other than email and wordprocessing you have to cut the bloatware, and without a restore dvd that can be risky.

    @XianZomby: And where did you pick up your laptop chassis? *cough*

  59. RvLeshrac says:

    @EtherealStrife:

    I know HP will provide you restore media for free while you’re still under warranty if you call them and tell them that there’s something wrong with the recovery disc creator. Not sure about the rest of them.

  60. Andrew says:

    @trai_dep:

    Wrong, wrong, wrong.
    This may work for relatively small and self contained apps, but for just about any commercial app it’ll just cause trouble. Orphaned registry entries, non-existent system services, even the lowly MRU lists could all be adversely affected by following this advice of yours.

    Just try doing this with Photoshop, or Office, or anything that has spewed forth from the bowels of Symantec and you’ll see what I mean.

  61. Andrew says:

    @trai_dep:

    PC Decrapifier is freeware, developed by a guy who hates bloatware with a passion.

    “Hire large numbers of people” what are you talking about?

  62. g4lt says:

    @Sam Glover:

    right, of course. disagreement MUST imply lack of knowledge.

  63. RvLeshrac says:

    “Vendors told us repeatedly that they are providing a service to the user by bundling trial versions of McAfee Antivirus, Microsoft Office 2007, or Norton Internet Security. But customers might be better served if the PCs came with full versions of free alternatives such as OpenOffice.org and Grisoft’s AVG antivirus application.” (From “http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,137285-page,1-c,pcreliabilityservice/article.html” autolinking doesn’t like the comma in the URL)

    I know that “free software” alternatives might be mentioned frequently. “Free software” isn’t always free for the manufacturers to put on those PCs, though. You simply aren’t allowed to distribute AVG-Free like this, for example. In the case of Open Office, the Open Office UI is still ten years behind the times, and tasks that might take the average user ten seconds in Office might take ten minutes in OpenOffice, because they aren’t familiar with it.

    In the case of Symantec and McAfee, I’ve encountered plenty of end-users who absolutely refuse to give them up. I’ve been cursed at for suggesting people remove Norton and replace it with NOD32, AVG, or some other non-crap antivirus.

    You can only help people if they want to be helped. While it is true that a large portion of consumers don’t want this crap on their PCs, a nearly equally large portion will buy a PC specifically because it is filled with this crap – then, of course, will complain about the speed of the computer. You can’t please everyone, and many consumers refuse to be pleased. Just look at the numbers of people who insist on buying the cheapest $400 laptop, oblivious to the fact that it is a piece of crap – even when we, the retailers, tell them that it is horrible.

  64. ucntcme says:

    As I read the article, the OP did not say he was uninstalling what he called bloatware (though it may be implied – for all we know it was a demo he didn’t want or have interest in). The point is the “level 2″ tech saying that removing “bloatware” is dangerous. From what I can tell the OP is claiming the tech himself originated the bloatware term in the conversation.

    I suspect the tech was just trying to get off of the phone and bamboozle the OP with a phrase John Q Public may not be familiar with.

  65. iamme99 says:

    The best thing to do with a new system is to ensure that you get a retail copy of the OS disk. You might have to pay a bit extra for this. But then you can just wipe the disk, reinstall the OS and not be bothered with all the crap that the advertisers pay the company to install on YOUR computer.

  66. RvLeshrac says:

    @iamme99:

    Except that new systems don’t have retail copies of the OS installed on them. They have OEM copies or, in the case of Vista, specially designed copies.

  67. Trae says:

    So… this would be the worst thread to mention I’ve always sworn by Toshiba and Mac laptops, right?

    Right.

    I’ll just sit here quietly.

  68. MonkeyMonk says:

    I have no problem with Bloatware as long as uninstalling it is quick, easy, and complete. Better yet, put the demo installer on the HD somewhere — I’ll install it if I choose so or just dump it in the trash if I have no interest in it.

  69. darious says:

    @motoraway:
    The cultists will vituperate. Just don’t make eye contact, back away slowly, and never, never point out the volume of green-screens-of-death, pink line’d displays, and security vulnerabilities reported in just the last month, and you’ll escape intact.

    Back to the original topic. Back in the day Micron liked to change core Windows files as part of it’s pre-load. It was at that point that I decided to just always flatten and clean load any new system I purchased.

  70. Trackback says:

    A Toshiba representative told a customer that removing pre-installed trial crap from his computer amounted to "breaking" it, frustrating his attempts to get service when the notebook he’d bought started failing.From the laptop owner, quoted by The Consumerist: "I quote verbatim…

  71. STrRedWolf says:

    @dunkinbean: Dell. Seriously. Their laptops are very good and take to Linux well if you choose wisely. Go for the NVidia graphics card and the Intel wireless card whenever possible. I have an Insipron E1505 myself. They currently offer an 1520(Intel)/1521(AMD) set, soon to replace it with a 1525/1526 set with pre-bundled Ubuntu or XP on it.

  72. ratbastid says:

    A few years back I bought a Toshiba that came with a whole pantload of bloatware–one piece of which called Notebook Maximizer would happily reinstall itself on the desktop every time it was deleted.

    I blogged about it, and a few week later, when my post was #1 in Google for “toshiba notebook maximizer”, somebody posted instructions on how to delete it. Since then I’ve had several posts of people pissed off about the same thing who got the solution via my blog.

    [www.danray.net]

  73. robotprom says:

    @Binaryslyder: O RLY? MS Office trial, iWork trial, and various other trialware packages based on the particular vintage of the Mac.

    True, they are much easier to uninstall, but the preloaded trial software is still there when you open the box.

  74. beavis88 says:

    Toshiba: medieval Japanese word meaning “craptastic”

  75. vastrightwing says:

    I’ve owned 5 Toshibas over the years and not had any major problems with any of them. However, I have had to contact tech support on a few occasions and this is when things get bad.

  76. popeye_doyle says:

    @Binaryslyder: That’s not the reason at all, and you know it.

  77. backbroken says:

    First thing I do when I get a new computer is to deep format the hard drive, then crank out my usenet downloaded copy of XP and install. Never have a problem after that.

    Sorry ’bout the piracy Bill. But since I paid for a pre-installed copy of Windows on my new machine that is pretty much useless, I figure we’ll call it even.

  78. kimsama says:

    NEVER EVER EVER buy a Toshiba. My Satellite was involved in a class action because Toshiba intentionally crippled it to prevent overheating (they made half the RAM go away). Also, the hinges busted in like 2 years of gentle, at-home use (they wouldn’t fix ‘em), the optical drive hasn’t worked since the first year I had it (no matter how much troubleshooting I do, and I sent it in three times for a fix — they couldn’t fix it), and the damn thing destroys batteries in a month.

    Yeah, I’ll never own a Toshiba again.

  79. dmann99 says:

    Hey BACKBROKEN I do the same thing. Since I’m using the original CD key from the Microsoft label attached to the computer I’m not worried about it.

  80. savvy999 says:

    @dmann99: So that key on the case sticker will actually work?

    I usually use up one of my MSDN keys when I do a fresh install of a new/old PC… never thought about re-using the keys on COA/GA sticker.

  81. Binaryslyder says:

    Wow, I never realized how cynical pc users can be about their product. For full disclosure, I own two PC’s for video editing. Those were thousands cheaper in a PC platform.

    I just never subscribed to the mentality that I had to tweak a brand new computer once I bought it. Just when I felt I needed to. The companies keep doing this to PC users because we as a collective let them do it.

    Yes, its not terribly hard to go into add/remove software and just run down the list till everythings gone. But if you’ve ever tried for fun, take it to a store and ask how much they charge for that service. CompUSA once charged my father $50 for “getting rid of all the junk.”

    So my argument is they either do if before I buy or give me that sort of discount right up front. : )

  82. savvy999 says:

    And FWIW, removing the Sony-installed 3rd-party media/jukebox software on a Vaio (which I considered to be bloatware) will often cripple the optical media hardware. So one does have to be careful when randomly uninstalling software, even if it’s obviously non-OS.

    I find that [www.ccleaner.com] is my best tool when scrubbing a system that is not going to be complete OS reinstall. Use its uninstall feature, do a registry backup and clean, repeat for every piece of addon garbage.

  83. JustAGuy2 says:

    I want to throw in a plug for Thinkpads. Corporate-focused units, so no bloatware (just some rather useful system management tools), they’re incredibly reliable, and have great keyboards. If you’re not buying a Mac, I can’t recommend the Thinkpad highly enough.

  84. jamar0303 says:

    Panasonic is good too- at least, their Japanese models are. That’s how it always seems to be with the JP manufacturers. I find more bloatware on their equivalent US-market models than on Japanese models.

    Sucks, really. There’s always Dynamism.

  85. Shadowman615 says:

    Actually, as a response to overwhelming customer feedback, this year Dell began offering the option to order “bloatware free” new systems — with only the OS preinstalled.

  86. alyssariffic says:

    I understand the tech’s mindset. As much as everyone is arguing that deleting bloatware won’t ruin an OS (which is true) we really have no idea what he did, and computer users can be pretty clueless. I work for a Helpdesk, and I’ve seen more than one person come in with their laptop saying that it bluescreens randomly on them, and they argue that it started happening after they uninstalled some useless programs or deleted some documents they didn’t create. Typically, that means they just went into their C drive and just dragged any files that they didn’t recognize into the trash.

  87. PinkBox says:

    I had my new computer completely crash when I tried to uninstall Norton.

    I think it is ridiculous that it told me I didn’t have the correct “permissions” to uninstall, even though I’m the administrator and only user of the computer.

    I was desperate to remove the nag screen. Heh.

  88. Chairman-Meow says:

    Did you know that if you want a xp/vista physical disk that you can call Microsoft, give them your OS serial number off the bottom of the computer and get a shiny new physical DVD for $25 bucks ?

    I did it myself not too long ago. You can also do the same for any Microsoft product.

    Cleaned all the bloatware off my machine by doing exactly this.

  89. Panamapeter says:

    ABS computers, factory direct or get lower priced models from Newegg. No Bloatware.

  90. jimmy43 says:

    This is why you should always buy the ‘business’ computers instead of the ‘home’ or ‘entertainment’ computers. Usually the only difference is that ‘business’ computers don’t include the bloat ware.

  91. Brad2723 says:

    For those of you who are Linux or Win XP advocates, Toshiba computers are often so proprietary that they are simply incapable of running any OS except for the one that came with the system.

    It should be my right as a consumer to buy a name brand PC that comes with only the software I want even if I don’t want any software at all.

  92. scatyb says:

    @Brad2723: You are quite correct. It is near impossible to track down all the drivers for an XP install and Linux will find nothing but “Unkown Device” or some such.

    My HP laptop came with Vista and a nifty restore DVD creator thing so I could make restore DVDs. After the restore DVD creation failed 4 times and ruined 4 DVDs(the process requires a minimum of 2 DVDs), I said screw it, and put Linux on(not that everyone should). Never looked back.

  93. Ausoleil says:

    @RvLeshrac: My company will not upgrade to Vista because of hardware and software “challenges” that would negatively affect the bottom line. But what the heck, we’re only Fortune 100 and all.

  94. Hanke says:

    Whenever I get a new laptop (I build desktops myself) I make sure that all the drivers and additional software I WANT are on disks with it; Then I wipe the HDD and install a fresh copy of the OS. It helps that I have access to a OEM install disk, so I can use the license on the laptop; otherwise, you need to buy a retail copy.

  95. scatyb says:

    @Ausoleil: You may find problems with that, unless you were able to get Microsoft to extend your XP support contract.

  96. HRHKingFriday says:

    @trai_dep: Yeah, thats pretty much all you have to do with a Mac. I usually run a search in the finder to axe all the rest of the utilities to be safe.

  97. acwnh says:

    Toshiba has the worst customer service. The people on the other end of the phone lie just to get you off the phone. I bought a new Toshiba laptop last January, to make a long story short, that laptop was unusable for 6 of the first 12 months I owned it. They finally replaced it with a refurbished unit, effectively replacing a brand-new, practically unused laptop with a used one – and they didn’t even extend the original warranty to cover the “new” one.

    Seriously, those of you considering a new computer don’t ever buy one from Toshiba. The price/performance looks great, and when the computers work, they perform pretty well. However, if you need service or technical support, you are on your own.

  98. lowlight69 says:

    i guess i’m just surprised that people still leave the factory installed OS on there. first thing i do with a new computer is format the drive then re-install the OS (windows in this case).

  99. disavow says:

    @Beld: Maybe he didn’t want to invalidate the warranty? Depending on the manufacturer, installing new hardware–or even opening the case–may completely void it.

  100. Benstein says:

    The only thing that is very hard to get rid of is Norton. This isn’t the fault of Windows or Toshiba, this is the fault of Norton. Norton is the worst piece of crapware you can possibly have on your PC, and it is better to go with no virus protection than with Norton. About the only way to get Norton 100% off your PC without living with the residue is to reformat.

  101. mandarin says:

    Sony Vaio has a ton of bloatware.

  102. clank-o-tron says:

    If at at all possible, buy from Dell’s small business section – those don’t come with any spurious software at all.

  103. f0nd004u says:

    Gateway includes a Vista Disk that’s pure, with nothing but Vista on it. I had to use it when i decided to switch from KDE linux back to Vista on my convertable tablet. Linux + non-Wacom tablet = eeeehhh…

    Granted, It didn’t have drivers for anything either, but on of the things i really LIKE about vista is that drivers pretty much install themselves. You just gotta go into the device manager and it takes care of it.

    The only thing that was interesting was finding a driver for the x1400 video card. Evidentally, AMD/Ati doesn’t support their own card…

  104. RvLeshrac says:

    @Ausoleil:

    What “challenges” are these and, more importantly, why are they the fault of Microsoft?

    All of the hardware issues I’ve seen have been due to lazy hardware developers who don’t want to produce new drivers.

    All of the software issues I’ve seen have been due to either ancient software or a lack of support on behalf of the developer.

    I notice that no one blames Apple for not being able to use OS3-OS9 software on OSX, as I mentioned earlier.

  105. drjayphd says:

    @Buran: Nothing, just the people whose response to anything, ever, involving Windows is “BUY A MAC” or “USE LINUX”.

  106. Rusted says:

    It’s so easy. Just do a clean install and format all the garbage out.

  107. quail says:

    I’ll second everyone when it comes to Norton. Used Windows uninstall to remove the program from my laptop only to discover that the machine was still booting slowly. A search in Taskmanager showed that there were several Norton programs and processes still running on the machine. In doing some research discovered that you need Norton’s own removal tool, found here: [service1.symantec.com]

    I unfortunately didn’t use it but hunted down the processes myself. My laptop now won’t hibernate or sleep.

  108. RvLeshrac says:

    @quail:

    The removal tool may still work in your case, if you haven’t tried it. You can also reinstall the trial and promptly remove it with the tool.

  109. clickable says:

    In my experience, a lot of bloatware is loaded but not activated until the user starts it up. Some can’t be deleted – Movie Maker (I consider it bloatware) comes to mind – but if you don’t activate it, it won’t bother you. Others can be deleted through Add/Remove Programs. I’ve had plenty of HP/Compaq techs who warn me not to start up Norton’s trialware – as if. I detest Norton. It has caused more damage and done more mischief on my systems than any Trojan or virus, which pests I have managed to avoid without Symantec’s help. I wouldn’t recommend this to a novice, but I’m sure many bloatware apps that haven’t been activated can simply be deleted from the Program Files folder, if they don’t appear in the Add/Remove Programs list because they haven’t actually been installed. But it’s important to remember when you get a new computer, don’t say “yes” to installing anything until you are sure you want it activated/enabled.

  110. bobblack says:

    God I love my Mac (and the fact that I dont have to deal with crappy PC issues like this).

  111. akronharry says:

    I just bought a Compaq laptop ad don’t like Vista. Will there be issues if I wipe out the hard drive and install windows XP?

  112. Wdeal says:

    Except for a few Norton files related to your norton account, downloading and running the “Norton removal tool” from symantec will remove all symantec products and registry items. I’ve done that prior to every Norton install…always with good results.

    As for Toshiba, they really are the worst about bloatware. One approach is to buy a computer with highly standardized hardware (Intel motherboard, Intel-made internal wireless, Intel/ATI/nvidia graphics) then get your drivers from Intel et al. No broadcom or atheros wireless — their chips are fine, but inevitably the drivers must come from the PC maker (often the case with atheros wifi), and then you are at their mercy.

    I have never had an issue with drivers downloaded from Intel.

  113. UnnamedUser says:

    Heh,heh. That’ll learn you!

    I bought a Toshiba laptop in May of this year. There was nothing I could to to get Toshiba to NOT equip the machine with Vista, so I took the least expensive route an got it with Vista Home Basic.

    The machine arrived in a few days. After unpacking and making sure all the parts were there, I placed an Ubuntu 7.04 Desktop CD in the CD reader and booted it up. I clicked the install and wrote a new partition table, partitioned it to my liking and installed Ubuntu Linux.

    All was not perfect, however. I had to do a little tweaking to get the screen resolution right but that was it. It just worked outta the box. No phone home to check in with BigBrotherBill. … Do you think what-his-name will throw a chair at me? … nevermind … No add-on anti-virus software to contend with, and pay for. No optional at extra cost brain-dead bloatware to get rid of. And, best of all, a reasonably secure platform on which I can run software.

    This household is a “Windows Free Environment”. Five (5) machines and not a single one of them running Windows.

    You can too.

  114. UnnamedUser says:

    @akronharry: Probably! I had two former employers disqualify Compaq and HP (before they merged) because their hardware would not run genuine Microsoft OEM software. Last I looked, they were still on the “disqualified vendors” list. I think Dell made the list after I left.

    The two employers, about 90,000 seats, between them, had a local firm build “WhiteBoxes” to order that would run Windows installed from the OEM media.

  115. RvLeshrac says:

    @UnnamedUser:

    I… have no idea what you’re talking about!

    Any machine will take a Windows install. The original hardware vendor is responsible for not producing drivers for your version of Windows, not the reseller. If Realtek or Sigmatel refuse to distribute drivers that will work on XP, that’s not HP/Compaq/Toshiba/etc’s problem (absent, of course, any strange agreements, like those made by nVidia).

  116. Lalu356 says:

    I’ve had the same problem (about the blue screen popping up), no matter what I do, it still doesn’t’ work, and every time I ask Toshiba for help, they ask me to send it in, and then they reboot my system and say its fixed. Two months later, same problem reoccurs. The lesson here is, not to buy Toshiba products, the least thing they can do is exchange it, but they refuse to do so.

    @Binaryslyder:

  117. Elliander says:

    Thanks for the report. I am in the market for a new laptop, and Toshiba is one of the companies I was looking at. I expect to be able to remove bloatware from any computer I buy. (if I had my way, it would never be pre-loaded and just come on an optional CD)

    Reading this, I have chosen not to buy from Toshiba. But not just because I won’t be able to remove bloatware. Or even because of the obviously poor tech support. (if you can call it that.) No, for me, the concern is that if the computer will become unstable as a result of uninstalling anything at all, then the computer is of poor construction to begin with. The quotes from tech support also raises fears that an incident like this could even void the warranty. Since most warranties don’t protect against user inflicted damage, I would imagine that if they really believed it to be the consumer’s fault, they would fight me on the warranty.

    Additionally, it appears to me that, regardless of if removing a program actually caused the system crash or not, the statement that it is the consumer’s fault is irresponsible. Either way, it’s bad news. It means that a Toshiba computer will become unstable as a result of normal computer functions, and to blame the consumer for their own construction problems just puts the final nail in the casket.

    So Toshiba, that’s about 2300.00 you won’t get from me.

  118. Trackback says:

    Over the weekend Sony floated a $50 charge for giving you a clean computer rather than one loaded with system-crippling junkware — then promptly made the "service" free of charge after the outcry.

  119. Eigtball says:

    Nope toshiba doesn’t sound that good. I’m also sure there are many comments (didn’t read them all) that bash all of tech support.

    Kill all bloatware. Every bit of it. Uninstall everything you can find that you won’t use. Best method. http://www.windowsreinstall.com and reinstall Windows -all other software. It’s a bit more work and if you read some forums you will get it all up and running probably faster than before.