Sanjay ilovecold at gmail.com
Thu Sep 30 04:59:15 EDT 2010



Buy a new computer and you'd think it would be free from the clutter that

built up on your old PC. The reality, however, is that most new computers are

pre-loaded with a range of software which manufacturers, who are often paid by

software companies to package the programs, call trialware.

Often the software is a trial version that expires after a few weeks. Alongside

a trial of Microsoft Office you might find file management software that mimics

functions already performed by Windows. 'Typically,a software provider wants

to be on there so they can show what they can deliver,' says technology

marketing consultant Terry Forsey. 'It may be limited in terms of

functionality or only last a short time.'


This pre-loaded software has a reputation for slowing down performance but

what's the reality? To find out, Which? Computing ran a series of new

laptops through our performance tests. We tested the laptops three times; once

with the pre-loaded software, once withthe software removed and finally with

only the raw operating system and essential drivers installed.

Some machines did start up faster without trialware. Toshiba's Satellite

U500-1EX, for example, took 67 seconds to start out of the box, 60 seconds

oncewe'd removed the trialware and 50 seconds when ithad been stripped back to

just the Windows operating system and essential drivers. Yet the effects of

trialware are unpredictable. Another Toshiba - the Satellite Pro S500-11C -

started four seconds slower having had the trialware removed. Similarly, a

Packard Bell machine ran quicker with the pre-installed software still in place.

Start-up times can vary each time you turn on.

The fact that this trialware slowdown is diminishing is good news, but if you

activate all the software thatis offered, evidence suggests boot times can be



Startup and performance problems are however, only two of the issues raised by

critics. Consumers are also infuriated at how difficult it can be to delete

unwanted software and how easy it is to damage your new computer by accidentally

binning essential files.

We mirrored this in our tests by removing some essential Visual C++ files from

the Dell Inspiron 1764. When we tried to restart the computer after removing

these, and the trialware, it took 119 seconds to start - more than double the

original start-up time. Once we reinstalled the Visual C++ files the laptop

started in just 52 seconds.

'This is one of the things we see a lot,' said Nabil Shabka, CEO of

Zuumedia, which runs computer maintenance company Computer Repair UK. 'The

average person faces a dilemma because they don't know what is what. Some of

it [pre-installed software] is useful and important, but some of it isn't.

The companies shipping the machines offer no information about what the software


'There might be an unknown application in there that is actually the driver

for the mouse pad set up for that particular laptop - if people delete that

then they can't move the cursor. What is a bona fide piece of software can

look like trialware because it isn't associated with Microsoft Windows,' he



There is also the feeling that programs are being foisted on the end user solely

to benefit the manufacturers' revenues, possibly leading them to pay more for

software than absolutely necessary.

Many computer manufacturers install security bundles such as McAfee or

Symantec's Norton tooffer protection, but often the software lasts between 30

and 90 days and after that consumers are nagged to pay for continuing the


'The companies argue that it makes life simpler for the consumer, but often it

actually works out cheaperto go to a shop and buy a brand new version of the

software than it is to sign-up for the preloaded software once the trial period

has finished,' said technology consultant Steve Nimmons.

By supplying a commercial product, the manufacturers also reduce the likelihood

that consumers will explore free, or cheaper, alternatives.

'Supplied software is not always the best of breed. Many people will just use

the software that is provided. They are not going to go and do a comparison of

allthe anti-virus software,' said Simmonds.


Equally frustrating is that many programs are simply a rehash of other programs

that are already installed. HP machines, for example, routinely come with the

company's MediaSmart Suite for managing music, photos and DVDs. This is in

addition to Windows Media Player, which performs the same job. 'It's the

same with software like picture viewers, that are often bundled with

computers,' said Shabka. 'There's already a picture viewer in Windows and

these other packages end up fighting to be the default picture viewer.'

To avoid criticism some are making installation optional. 'On Advent

machines, we regard software for installation as two categories,' said a

spokesperson for electronics retailer DSGi. 'The first are programs or

updates that could be considered utilities (such as Flash and Silverlight for

web sites that require them), popular electronic document readers like Adobe

Reader and software to create a backup of your system to DVD.

'The second category would be trial-related software. In the past, we

provided trial software on our machines, but have come to realise that customers

don't appreciate the machine being filled with software they won't use.

'Since Windows 7, we have provided a menu that allows the customer to choose

which additional software is installed onto their computer.'

Two years ago, Sony offered a service where buyers could pay extra not to have

the bundled software, but it faced enormous flak for charging for nothing. The

initiative was dropped and today consumers no longer have the choice to opt out

of Sony's pre-installed suite.

Acer says it offers a suite of software designed to target as many customers as

possible, but accepts some technically savvy customers might find the package

frustrating. 'Technical people understand the benefit of a clean machine, but

other people will want some of the software we bundle,' said Elif Nurjiz,

Acer's channel marketing manager.

While the overall trend is towards less intrusive trialware, with more choice

about what is installed, there is little chance of it actually going away

because provides a revenue stream for vendors. 'It's a balance for them

between earning revenue and upsetting customers,' said Con Mallon, product

marketing manager for Symantec.

Acer Aspire 5738PG-664G32Mn - 9 secs FASTER

Toshiba Satellite Pro S500-11C - 4 secs SLOWER

Packard-Bell EasyNote LJ71-RB-025UK - 7 secs SLOWER


1. Take control

The simplest way to remove unwanted programs is to use Windows. To do this

click Windows Vista's Start button, select Control Panel and then Programs and

Features. This will bring up a list of all the programs you have installed.

2. Windows uninstall

Click on the program that you want to remove and then click Uninstall. In the

User Account Control message that pops-up, click Continue and then click

Uninstall. You have now removed the program from your computer.

3. Alternative options

While in most cases this will do the trick, some programs are harder to

uninstall than others. If the Windows option doesn't work, there are

alternatives such as the Windows Uninstaller Cleanup utility


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