Every time I get a new laptop for review, the first thing I notice is how slow it is. Unless it’s an ultrabook, which are designed for fast boot times and therefore have minimal programs loading at startup, literally every laptop starts up coughing and sputtering.
There’s this fascination that laptop manufacturers have with pre-loading their own branded software onto laptops, which would eventually mean that regular consumers will be tied up using their services for a long time. I understand that getting consumer information for their database, no doubt to target advertisements in the future, is regular business practice, but there’s a fine line between getting marketing info and ruining the end-user experience.
The software ranges from casual (often flash-based) games, to video recording programs (via the built-in webcam) to some obscure picture editing software to media management suites. At the end of the day not only is all of this unnecessary, but also eats up precious hard drive space, especially in case of SSDs which already come in small capacities. Hence the term ‘bloatware’.
Now every time Windows starts up, there are a host of background services that also startup as well. Under normal circumstances these would basic Windows 7 services (to ensure smooth operations), your Antivirus program and maybe a few other services like iTunes helper or Adobe updater, etc. These are services that are often required to run the full on software you may run later on, like iTunes.
Now there are certain programs, like Utorrent or Steam, that ask you whether you’d like them to startup when Windows boots up. However, most programs don’t give you this option, and in the case of pre-loaded software on laptops, this is almost never the case. The result is that your laptop boots in 40 to 50 seconds, to over a minute, instead of 20 to 30 seconds (depending on your CPU and hard drive).
My first instinct is to simply re-install Windows 7, with nothing except the required drivers. Indeed I do this when friends or family give me their brand new laptops, but I don’t have this luxury for review units, or indeed pre-production samples. However, what about the consumer who’s not aware of bloatware? They certainly live with all the unwanted software, and can never, in fact, realize the full potential of their brand new machine because the experience is hampered by the manufacturers themselves!
And then there’s this new silly habit where the laptop needs to be configured the first time you start it up, whereby you register the machine and complete multiple steps for not only Windows, but also the other silly programs to load up. I’m not exaggerating when I say that often times on brand new laptops, from pushing the Power button to seeing the Windows desktop for the first time takes nearly 15 minutes!
So a simple plea from me, to all laptop manufacturers, that you shouldn’t bundle all these unnecessary programs on your laptops. Give the consumers a simple and fast experience, from the first boot onwards.
Failing that, everyone should simply re-install Windows after buying their laptop; the serial key is on the back of your laptop. But, of course, do download the drivers from the laptop manufacturer’s website first!