05 April 2007

Will someone please cut the crap?

Following on from the fact that my frist ps0t was something that I'm sure has been written before over and over again I thought I'd chat about something that I've also heard mentioned about all over the intertubes.

I'm talking about the crap that comes when you buy a new computer.

Unfortunately I'm the goto guy for IT around everyone who knows me and this means setting up people's computers for them (for which they pay, and I demand, quite a reasonable amount of money). The one thing that constantly pesters me is the crud that comes on a computer. I'm not even complaining about the usual crap - you know the spyware, trial software and other junk that often comes preloaded (although it is all very complaint worthy). I'm talking about the stuff that is truly unnecessary because it already exists on the computer before whatever OEM has decided to come along and mess with things.

Let me give you an example to put this into context. Many laptops I've seen come with a software utility to manage your WiFi connection. Great. Except every major operating system in existence today already includes its own rather decent WiFi manager! I've seen this with HP, Dell and Acer at least and I have to say I just don't understand it. With some of the other crud at least there's a point from the manufacturer's point of view - you know like it earning them more money from trial software - but with this there is no point at all. They've chosen to take their software engineers and actually task them on this. Where's their financial incentive?

From the user's point of view this just creates an inconsistent experience. Here I am, Joe User, looking to 'learn' about how one manages a WiFi connection. But instead of learning, for example, the Windows way of doing things I actually have to learn the Dell way of doing it. And the HP way. And the Acer way.

At least most software allows you to disable it and properly use the standard way. Not so with some - I saw a Dell laptop where the only option was the Dell WiFi manager. Uninstalling the Dell manager also removed the WiFi driver! This is just plain stupid.

Manufacturers this message is to you. Stop spending money on this stuff! Spend it elsewhere - improved support maybe? Better hardware? Better and more reliable drivers perhaps? Let Microsoft handle it. You're definitely paying for it through the OS fees!