No Bloatware, Please

Lots of chatter these days on why Dell pre-loads so much software on new systems.  Several of you have asked about how this software affects performance, some have commented about the sheer number of apps, and others have expressed confusion as to which apps they can remove.  

For many Dell customers, having pre-loaded software that allows them to play back digital music, edit digital photos, and protect their new systems from viruses and spyware is a positive thing.   Does that mean all of our customers like it?  No.  Over the past several months we have listened to feedback and taken action.  Here’s a couple of improvements:

  • Limited software install – We’ve been offering “Limited software install” on many of our XPS gaming systems and Small Business systems.  In both cases, only the operating system and antivirus/ spyware software is loaded.  For those that want no software installed, the XPS 700 BYO customers (from link, click the Design Tab, then  Build Your Own from the drop-down) can order the system without a hard drive.  All of these options are a direct result of conversations with our customers.  
  • Clean the Clutter –  We also made significant changes to the way software is organized and discovered on all desktops and notebook PCs.  If you have purchased a Dimension or Inspiron PC from Dell since April, you will notice a significant change to the desktop environment – instead of 21 icons we now have less than 10 (depending on your configuration at point of sale).  The software that is pre-installed is now grouped into useful buckets depending on what you want to do with your PC – internet access, education/support, entertainment, etc.   We also include a brief description of the value of the application – you no longer have to launch the software to figure it out.  Finally, if you would prefer to remove the pre-loaded software, you are directed to the “Uninstall Programs” section of your desktop for easy removal.  In this video, Jeremy Friedlander from the software team demonstrates the end result.

View Video
Format: wmv

We are also in the process of streamlining the system tray and quick launch sections of the desktop which will improve boot time and other performance metrics.  However, our performance tests in the lab have not found significant improvements by removing software trials and other executables—most of our software sits quietly on the desktop until you launch it.  The two culprits we have highlighted in our labs include the OS and security applications—both critical to using and maintaining the integrity of your PC.  However, we continue to streamline what we ship and provide more choice to our customers when they buy a new system.

Our goal is to provide useful pre-loaded software to our customers that want it, while giving intuitive options to customers that don’t.  We’ll stay focused on finding that balance.

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76 thoughts on “No Bloatware, Please

  1. I have ordered an XPS 700 system. It will be interesting to see what is (and is not) installed the first time I boot the system.

    Another comment… Dell really should be sending out an operating system disc with each machine by default. Power users like having this disc to quickly format, and have a fresh Windows installation. I think customers should have access to that original OS disc without having to contact Dell support. I am happy that Dell now offers an OS disc when configuring a PC. (It costs about $8.) I ordered 2 laptops about 1 year ago and was very disappointed that I had to call Dell and wait a day to reinstall Windows.

  2. Go tell you the trust the first thing I do when ever I get a computer is reinstall Windows.

  3. People tell me it’s easy to get the discs within 21 days. But after that, Customer Care gives you a hard time.

  4. QUOTE

    Limited software install – We’ve been offering “Limited software install” on many of our XPS gaming systems and Small Business systems.  In both cases, only the operating system and antivirus/ spyware software is loaded.  For those that want no software installed, the XPS 700 BYO customers (from link, click the Design Tab, then  Build Your Own from the drop-down) can order the system without a hard drive.  All of these options are a direct result of conversations with our customers.  


    That’s a good news because a lot of Dell’s non-Asia purchased is grumbling a lot with the huge # of software installed in their system.  They even have to get 3rd party software called "The PC De-Crapifier" from which targets Dell machines.

    I never used that 3rd party software since there is nothing in Dell’s system that I don’t like and I don’t have those software when I received the system.  Ony software that I have are those I expect.

    The only gripe I have with your limited software is Dell is somewhat slow in providing updates for drivers.  You should know by know that many users prefer to have the latest and greatest driver in the world so your team should add time in keeping it up-to-date.  There are drivers in the manufacturer’s site but Dell users cannot install because the .inf file is limited to only install what Dell has provided.  Users have to grab 3rd party inf file to make it work.  I’m sure you guys know what I’m talking about.

    Drivers requires an update if it’s available because old drivers can result to instability or incompatibility with Microsoft’s security (critical) updates that is released every month.

    Example: The March 2006 security update by Microsoft has caused issue to old drivers: or;

    NVIDIA driver versions affected by the MS06-015 issue:

    If you really have to limit the software and the driver, you should at least provide updates to it often if there is available one in the vendor.  The updates that fixes issues in the driver.  This way users who prefer to be secured and using a patch system will not have to blame Dell or other vendor of software for not providing update on their driver or not allowing them to install newer driver on their machine.

    Dell is promoting security.  That is true since you’ve added the Dell support software that alerts the user if their system is not patched or if the antivirus, firewall is not installed.  However, if you don’t keep your drivers and software up-to-date, you are failing to secure and make the system stable.  People have to go to to get some latest driver with modded inf file.  Why not provide it yourself?

    One improvement that I am happy to see in your Dell’s KB is … finally.. Dell disclosed and explained the installation of "WebCyberCoach" in a Dell machine:

    I swear I searched for such in your website for many months but you have nothing that time. You added / released / published that document on July 16 which is maybe late but that’s better than never 🙂


    Clean the Clutter –  We also made significant changes to the way software is organized and discovered on all desktops and notebook PCs.  If you have purchased a Dimension or Inspiron PC from Dell since April, you will notice a significant change to the desktop environment – instead of 21 icons we now have less than 10 (depending on your configuration at point of sale).


    Please don’t count the # of icons in the desktop 😉

    Kindly count the # of software that user’s do not want to have.  Make every software as an option when they buy the software by providing "None" as option.  That will make the customer happy.  If they don’t like it, they’ll choose None.  


    We are also in the process of streamlining the system tray and quick launch sections of the desktop which will improve boot time and other performance metrics.  However, our performance tests in the lab have not found significant improvements by removing software trials and other executables—most of our software sits quietly on the desktop until you launch it.  The two culprits we have highlighted in our labs include the OS and security applications—both critical to using and maintaining the integrity of your PC.  However, we continue to streamline what we ship and provide more choice to our customers when they buy a new system.


    All software especially the trials should be offered with "none" as an option in your website when user customized computer.  

    Windows XP has many services running the background if something trigger it to run.  

    Trial software or any application that you installed in the Dell machine is giving users heartache especially if the application was installed as a "service".  Solution:  Provide "None" as option all the time.  

  5. Thanks for responding to the feedback. I often just reinstall Windows on my mom’s dell and that takes care of all the bundled software problems. Why bundle all the unnecessary, trialware? How about including freeware?   Trials are annoying due to their nag screens and some hassle the user through the uninstall.

    My suggestion is to let Dell partner with some open source solutions out there to replace your current trials – and simply market it. Is it because of contractual obligations they must bundle trialware, unwanted applications, into the computer?

    The consumer should have a choice during the ordering process, and have a simple choice such as, "Free Dell trial software, which includes Music, Video, and home/office software" and "I prefer to not have any additional software installed". I’m telling you now, I’d choose the latter option, but as well, a majority of your customers may pick the former.

    Anyhow, good work with the follow-up, and nice video explanation. I say we look forward to even more in the future. 🙂

  6. Michelle: what’s missing from your account is that Dell gets PAID to bundle software. It’s disingenuous to pretend it’s purely done to benefit customers.

    Also, there’s a simple solution. All you have to do is provide a check list of bundled software and let us untick the ones we don’t want. This need not be free. <strong>I am willing to pay more</strong> to stop you from installing Symantec, RealNetworks, Apple and Sun adware, and I bet I’m not the only one.

    If there’s anything I need, I can download and install it myself — and that way, I’ll know what it’s installing and exactly where it’s installing it. On my PC, those are things I consider it my right to control.

    I’m sure there are plenty of people who will be happy to have whatever software you want to bundle, and they’ll be happier too, because you will have given them the choice.

  7. How about including everything BUT the OS on a CD[s]? That is if you can add an option to not have it all pre-installed; maybe the OS on a CD as well. I think most people who look at this system for it’s configurability and upgradability are competent enough to know how to install either of these and not to mention more control on specifically what is installed. Configurability doesn’t have to be solely on hardware.

    For people who don’t know or don’t care about the extra software, they either could order with it pre-installed, or you can give them a bundled install CD and a little advertisement booklet explaining all the wonderful, flashy features of these programs. If u don’t want to waste resources on a CD and/or booklet, you could have the software available for download. People could pick and choose which programs that interest them. For a trial version, I can’t imagine a program being that big of a file (compress zipped or auto-executable).

  8. Hi there.

    It seems to me that the Windows XP Start Menu is the place to look for "things to run". If Windows users don’t know that, they need to learn it – that’s kind of a basic concept. It behooves you to educate your users, rather than fostering dependance on hand-holding branded applications.

    Providing custom ‘folder-like’ launchers like you demonstrate in the video is slick branding and probably an improvement usability-wise over the old clutter. The problem is, what happens when a customer sits down in front of a non-Dell PC? Confusion reigns, since the desktop is different. If people get a Dell PC, then buy a new photo program at CompuMegaStore and manage to install it, we wouldn’t want them to expect to find its’ icon in your little Dell-branded ‘Photos’ launcher – they might never find or run their new program.

    The smart thing to do would be to ‘pin’ your custom folder launchers (If you must have them) on the Start Menu, right up there by "Web Browser" and "Email" – instead of dropping them on the desktop. Then, figure out a way to direct new users’ attention to the Start Menu, whether it be an intro that says "To start doing anything, CLICK START" or some kind of bubble popup on first run.

    I know this isn’t as dead obvious as leaving the launchers on the desktop, but at least it trains new users to do understand where programs really live. It would help them in the long run by imparting some useful knowledge – and YOU in the long run by reducing support calls.

    The ultimate goal in desktop usability should be guiding the user to do things in the simplest way possible, and reducing the ways things can be done. You’re succeeding on the first item and failing on the second, and you are paying for it.

    The real usability problem is Windows, and it’s too bad you’re stuck with it. If only Ubuntu with GNOME were a choice for preinstall… But I digress.

  9. This is excellent news – the main reason I bought a Gateway last time instead of a Dell (after having bought two Dells) is that I was able to sit in front of a new Gateway and look at what was installed: nearly nothing. That was exactly what I wanted… in not wanting anything.

    Given how much time I spend "cleaning" new consumer systems that friends and family members buy (msconfig.exe and all that), I mentioned I’d even be willing to kick in $5 or whatever to avoid such value-adds from showing up in the first place.

    When I’m ready to buy my Vista-premium system, I will reconsider Dell given this option.

  10. Hi,

    Those who buy Dell products shouldn’t complain about pre-loaded software. There are numerous alternatives to the operating system and bundled software that come with a Dell computer. Learn a little about those alternatives and make an educated decision when it comes time to buy your next computer.

  11. I regularly get computers for the university where I work.  

    Originally we got systems with just window.  Lately I’ve noticed Dell has decided to add extra software, and it becoming more intrusive, not less.

    When Google first appeared, it was just an installer on the desktop.  Now it pops up a notice that wouldn’t go away.  Normally I would let the user decide if they wanted it, but now it is removed first thing as it interferes with setting the system up.

    Search assist & Url Assistant are the latest bit of software.  Tech support at first didn’t know what it was, then after a long wait, just insisted it was not spyware, but couldn’t ( or wouldn’t) tell me what the software was for. (Dell is the author of Search Assist, Url Assistant dosen’t admit to an author)

    Really, the answer is simple.  Dell has drop down menus & checkboxes to configure the systems.  Adding an option for each piece of software, or even just a windows only option should be straight forward.

    In the past, options for which os and service pack have been offered.  This shows it is well within Dells capability to selectively load software on systems and provide a mechanism to provide the customer information on each piece of software and allow the customer to make and informed choose regarding what to have it installed.

    Why has this not been done?  Dell obviously gets something out of preloading the systems. This must be greater than the benefits of allowing the customer to choose.  We know there is no technical barrier to providing an informed choice, as they have done such in the past.


    By saying "For those that want no software installed, … can order the system without a hard drive.",  are you essentially saying if you don’t like the software, don’t by a system from Dell?  A computer without a harddrive is not a system. Again, they can easily provide an os without preinstalled software, so I don’t know what to make of Michelle Pearcy’s suggestion to not buy a harddrive to not get the software.  They could just as easily not load any software on the drive.

    If the customer dosen’t want it, don’t force it on them and don’t make excuses.

  12. I got a Inspiron 6400 recently and had numerous problems when I first started it up, numerous applications tried to install which caused 100% cpu load and then the fan came on full speed and would not go off again even after reboot. This required a call to Dells support line, after running the diag app the problem went away. These things should not happen on a new machine, I do not want to spend a couple of hours removing junk I did not order or want. When I order a Windows OS I want a clean Windows OS plus a clean full version of the OS on cd/dvd. Include all your customers in these changes not just business or game machines or add order options on the junk! Look at the Apple out of box experience for an example of how things should run on turn on. McAfee, which caused most of the problems, is a very poor piece of software, ditched as soon as I could and replaced with free version of AVG.

  13. tim: Thanks for your feedback.  I saw you had some comments about the Google software and wanted to let you know it will be a blog topic in the near future.  Regarding the My Way Search Assistant: the Dell rep was right—it was not spyware.  Just so you know, we stopped shipping My Way Search Assistant on all U.S systems before the end of 2005.  For more information, and details on how to remove, please visit the Dell Community Forum.

  14. Hi Jack, Dwight, et al., thank you for your response.  As you point out, there are several business models which drive the distribution and installation of software on PCs.  The combination of these business models allows Dell to sell competitively priced systems – yes, we make money on software but the majority of the revenue is based on software that customers select at point of sale.

    However, to balance the complexity of the online PC configuration process as well as target a wide range of customer types, we provide point of sale and after point of sale choices in software for our customers.  Your point on flexibility and choice is a good one and we will continue to move in the direction you mention – allowing customers to select and install the exact software titles they want.  We started with our XPS products as these customers are generally more sophisticated and do not need as much help from Dell in selecting key software titles.  Other folks actually want Dell to recommend software – both at the time they purchase their PC and later when they start to use their PC.  We agree our model allows us to serve both types of customers and we need to capitalize on this model more often.

    Thanks again for your suggestions and response to this interesting topic.

  15. This is excellent. I am one of the Dell notebook owners that was confused with all the pre-loaded programs that AOL etc. I was some of these programs but not necessary others.

    Dell has definitely do me a lot of favor by eliminating all miscellaneous icons on my desktop.

    Way to go Dell.

  16. Glad to hear that you folks are finally cutting down on the bloatware – but what about Google Desktop which I believe you folks are going to be installing on all your computers in the coming months? Google Desktop is one of the biggest offenders of Bloatware that I have ever encountered – and I know I’m not the only one who feels that way.

    As a computer consultant, I frequently suggest to my clients that they purchase Dell systems – I end up spending about another 30 minutes after they recieve the system, just removing programs that I know for a fact slow the computer down – such as MusicMatch Jukebox (the button on the taskbar slows down computer load time), and I’ve noticed that Dell now includes "Games" within their systems – that goes right off too, because they seem to be just trying to encourage you to buy the full version.

    Something that is VERY fusterating to me is the Anti-virus/Firewall – #1 Why do you not offer Windows OneCare? I am suggesting that to all my clients because it is MUCH faster and easier to use than McAfee – and it blows Symantec out of the water (In my experience, Symantec significantly slows down computer load time by about a minute or two, and slows down when most programs run, email is downloaded, etc)

    #2 It’s great that you offer a free 15 month subscription to a particular Antivirus/Firewall Package – but most of my clients are upgrading their computers – so they have the choice of either not using their old subscription (which usually has months left on it) or not using the 15 month free membership – you need to enable functionality which adds on to current subscriptions!

  17. I got my Inspiron 6400 in early June.  I ended up having to "dead reboot" my Inspiron with the power button and restarting, because when I turned on the laptop, several programs tried to "unload" (install all at the same time), and it made the laptop completely unresponsive.  I did not click on any icons to make this happen.  Had I had my way about it, none of the free trial programs would be there to begin with.  

    I thought I had chosen the "no security software installed" when I ordered my laptop, but somehow, McAfee (which I DESPISE) still made its way on there.  My daughter’s Dell E310 desktop came with Trend Microsystem’s PC-Cillin, and I like it much better.  More user-friendly, and it doesn’t seem to get in the way like McAfee does.

    I took most of those programs off finally, and it is running more smoothly now.  Also, I was specific about not wanting AOL offers on the laptop.  AOL is like a virus that pervades so many programs now, and I don’t care to have to uninstall icons and links to AOL every time I turn around.

    I am glad I am not the only one experiencing frustration with this.  I thought maybe I was being too picky, but I’d rather junk up my computer with my own preferences, not Dell’s. 😉

  18. We’ve purchased two E1505 Inspirons for our home since June 1st. Since we use Microsoft OneCare and Windows Defender for our anti-virus and anti-spyware protection, it has required considerable effort to remove Symantec’s security suite free trial (i.e. going into Safe Mode) even when we’ve never used it. Please offer "No security software" as an option for those of us who do not need it or make Microsoft’s products available as choices. Otherwise we’ve been very happy with our purchases.

  19. It it great seeing that some efforts are being done to streamline the desktop. However, it is sad that you are repeating usability research that has already been done. Microsoft did similar research when they remove the My Computer, My Deskop, etc. icons from the desktop in Windows XP. You might try letting users opt-in to allow some metrics to be sent back to Dell about what pre-installed applications remain installed and how long before they are uninstalled.

  20. I’ve been buying Dell for 8 years now, for myself and my business. When I buy for my business, I don’t care what cames in the computer since I will reformat it anyway, but for my home I do care. I like some of the stuff, but not the others. When I bought my last dimension, I wanted to keep some of the installed apps, but after getting a stupid popup for Quicken every week or so, I decided the apps pre-installed was not worth it, so, again I re-formatted everything.

    Now, I recommend to every friend and family to do a re-format and clean install of Windows every time they buy a Dell. Otherwise, a lot of unnecessary stuff will be installed, running or extending IE making everything harder and slower.

    I hope you can fix this, and, maybe some day, even create a list of apps that people would like pre-installed on each PC.

  21. a more efficient system would be some initial run macro to eliminate all the additional material; and if you still want to include trial versions, get your vendors to pay for a supplemental disk from which they can be loaded

  22. I really appreciate the video and explanations directly from the people who determine desktop configuration.  It would be especially helpful for many of us in the public education K-12 sector to have an SKU for a bare OS configuration.

  23. The shop I used to work at bought Dells all the time…of course, it was standard practice to automatically re-os the computer to get rid of all the junk.

    Of course, that only works if the computer is actually sent with OS disks…this "recovery partition" thing that people (including Dell) are doing these days is a sick joke.

    Hey guys….just one small request:

    "Why don’t you take all the money that you make on shoving trial software down our throat and make the operating system disks standard.  That way if a hard drive dies we don’t have to go back to you and pay money for an operating system we already own?"

  24. Please offer a "no preinstalled software" option for all systems.  I would happily pay $25 extra to have no preinstalled software.  On the e510 I recently purchased, Windows XP (especially Media Center) seemed buggy and crash prone at first.  Over the course of a few weeks, I uninstalled one program after another and guess what – the system is much more stable and a bit more responsive.

    When you try to hide the fact that you get paid by software vendors to shop preinstalled software – it just makes it seem like you’re trying to pull a fast one over the customer.  From most comments I’ve seen, most people are sympathetic to the idea that you do everything you can to lower the system price, including preinstalled software.  But many of us want a choice to pay more to get a clean system that is faster and more stable.  Preferably with the hard drive restore set to reinstall a clean system as well.

    One last point:  XP is the most stable version of Windows I have ever used – rivaling the Mac OS X in stability.  However, most people don’t realize that because so many major vendors ship systems with bloatware that makes it less stable and more difficult to set up initially.  People are always saying how easy it is to set up and use a Mac right out of the box – XP can be like that too if Dell chooses to set it up like that.

    Thanks for bringing up this topic.

  25. <<<START QUOTE>>>

    Michelle Pearcy, WW Client Software Manager said:

    We started with our XPS products as these customers are generally more sophisticated and do not need as much help from Dell in selecting key software titles.  Other folks actually want Dell to recommend software – both at the time they purchase their PC and later when they start to use their PC.  We agree our model allows us to serve both types of customers and we need to capitalize on this model more often.

    <<< END QUOTE >>>

    First, when you say you don’t install the bloatware on your XPS, its only when you order through the gaming division not the home division last time I checked.  So if I order say an XPS 400 though the gaming division, I have the option for no junk software, but if I order it though the home division, there isn’t an option for not having it installed – only model is the XPS 700 that doesn’t have any bloatware I believe through both the gaming and home divisions.

    Second, you say that XPS customers are more sophisticated than regular customers – well that is a poor argument.  I am a sophisticated customer and I don’t want to have hours of my precious time spent trying to uninstall what I do not want.  If all I want is a B110 or E310 without the junk software for doing basic tasks, I should have that option.  Like others have said, let the consumer make the decision, not Dell.  Your slogan is currently: "Dell – Purely You",…well if I can’t control whats being put on my computer, then it clearly isn’t me but rather Purely Dell.  Sounds like you might need a new slogan.

    Solution: Just offer an option under its own section on the computer customize pages (example) as well as "none" options under security and internet trials:

    Dell Pre-Installed Software:

    [ ] Dell Photo, Music, Games and Internet Trial Software (Recommended)

    [ ] No Preinstalled Software

    Pretty easy, eh?

  26. QUOTE

    However, our performance tests in the lab have not found significant improvements by removing software trials and other executables—most of our software sits quietly on the desktop until you launch it.


    I disagree.  The boot time of the machine is significantly improved by removing software trials.  Virtually all of them have a task that launches at boot time so that they can pop up a nag screen or phone home and "check for updates."  All of these combined slow down the machine when booting.  To me, that’s a big customer displeaser.  I don’t have numbers to back this up, but just the fact it is noticeable says a lot.  Try running this:

  27. Bloatware and XP Pro vs XP Home:

    Does XP Pro come with less bloatware than XP Home?  Or is it tangential?  

    What about purchases from the different dell stores – home vs small bis vs edu vs corp?

    Oh, and I agree with Joe’s first two paragraphs, above.

  28. Joe G,

    Here is the problem, you are willing to pay an extra $25 for no "bloatware" but "XYZ Software" is willing to pay $35 for Dell to install just one application, and "JIT Software" is willing to pay $15 and "ACD Interactive" is paying $25.

    So the question is not are you willing to pay $25, but are you willing to pay $75.  

    I saw a survey once that illustrates just how cheap we consumers are, the two main questions were 1) "Are you willing to pay more for X?" and 2) "How much are you willing to pay for X?"

    69% answered yes to the first question, only 8% answered the second question with an amount that was above the actual cost of X.

  29. Lionel Menchaca: But "My Way Search Assistant" is still being shipped on EMEA systems up to at least this summer of 2006.

    Without going into the whole discussion about where the boundaries between spyware and adware is, you can do a simple google search on "MyWay Speedbar" and see it reported on,, and many more. It would not be there if it was unintrusive and not compromising the customers privacy.

    When is there going to be a stop to preloading this kind of software on systems sold in Europe, Middle East and Africa?

    Is the fact that Dell has stopped preloading MyWay software on US systems an acknowledgement that it was not a good idea to have dealings with MyWay to begin with?

  30. This inspiron E1505 I just installed has 75 applications running at start up (Just installed 2hrs ago). My old HP laptop came with 35 applications at start up and that was a bottom of the line computer which was for 400 dollars . I can’t imagine HP making much off of that but I bet you Dell guys are making a fortune of this 3rd party software. Now I have to spend 3hrs removing this mess of computer slowing applications , which also drain my battery life.

  31. I don’t think anyone would disagree that unwanted software causes problems, or at least extra work, for all users.  

    I thought a win-win solution might be for customers to pay extra for a no-bloatware option, but if Alan’s point above is correct and it really would cost $75 or $100 more…it’s unlikely many people would be willing to pay.

    Presumably Dell does a cost-benefit analysis to determine if there really is a profit to pre-installing this stuff, given the problems it causes.

    However, Dell now has this forum and therefore a free focus group of thousands of people.  Moderators, could you give us an idea as to how much extra it would cost for a no-bloatware option?  

  32. Cassius,

    I have not yet gotten a response from Ms. Pearcy or any Dell folks on my post above, and I’m still waiting to hear what will come on an XPS with the “no pre-installed software” option.  Given your similar experience — did Google Toolbar come with?  AOL?  Curious what else?

    Hopefully in response to your post and others, Dell will soon clarify what they actually mean by Michelle Pearcy’s “limited software install” or the Dell website’s “no preinstalled software” option.  Michelle suggests above it’s just the OS and the virus software, but your experience does not seem to back this up.  Considering the “limited software install” info is the first bullet-point in Michelle’s posting about bloatware, it seems like a monumental faux paus to mislead people into embracing this option and then not deliver on what she says it means.

  33. I just bought an XPS M1710 with all the best options.  I also made triple, no, quadruple sure that it said "No preinstalled Software" with the exception of the McAfee included.  The specs and the packing slip said "No preinstalled Software"

    I opened it up and saw the install disks for some software in the box and thought "good i can choose if i wanna install some random stuff maybe."

    Turned on the laptop, and ALL of it was already installed.  Plus more.  

    I paid a ridiculous amount for this thing, so i figured it would be exactly what it said it was.  

    Awesome computer, but kinda dissapointing

  34. Hi Nick, your comment has been noted.  I’ve routed it to Michelle and her team.  Please expect to hear back soon.  Thanks.

  35. Kasper,  You’re right, we were still shipping the My Way Search Assistant in some areas of EMEA and other global regions earlier this summer.  We’re currently shipping in France and a couple of other places—global transition will be completed by end of August.  Before we issued an update, a misconfigured My Way installer caused the My Way Search Assistant to remain listed in the Add/ Remove programs list.  This fueled incorrect speculation that it was spyware.  For more information, check the Dell Community Forum.

  36. Despite what Dell are saying here, every Dell system still comes bloated with software that is of little or no use, and does nothing more than keep the price of their systems down and their margins up whilst slowing the performance. I set up a couple of Dell systems every month and it is usually a 2+ hour job just removing the ‘bonus’ software. On my personal machine I just did a clean install of Windows. As a long time customer I am tiring of this and looking at my alternatives for future purchases.

    And Lionel, the system I ordered Monday that arrived today has both Search Assist and Url Assistant amongst the endless list of spyware/bloatware that you so generously included.

  37. In a nutshell,

    Dell is catering to their business associates

    when they SHOULD BE catering to their customers.

  38. Dell should only preinstall opensource freeware on computers, if anything is preinstalled at all. Commercial trial versions should be only installed if a user checks a box to opt in after receiving his computer and starting it up.  There are garbage free alternatives to Quicktime and Realplayer called Real Alternative and Quicktime Alternative.  Openoffice should also be installed in lieu of MS Office Trial and Word Perfect.  Gimp is a free replacement for Photoshop.

  39. I only know of one vendor other than specialty shops that will give you a clean install of XP and that is systemax boxes.

  40. I just spent an hour on the phone ordering two systems that I had already spent time configuring on line.  Why? Because the online configuration doesn’t give me the option to _not_ have the trial anti-virus, Word Perfect, etc. installed and all I want is the OS and drivers.

    My past experience has been that it takes at least an hour per Dell system to remove the trial/unwanted software (which I define as everything beyond the OS and drivers) and install the necessary windows updates. Since I’m buying two systems and the Dell rep. I spoke to on the phone assured me that the systems I was ordering by phone would _not_ have any pre-installed software beyond the OS and drivers I am ahead by about a half hour assuming installing the Windows updates takes half an hour and not counting the time wasted doing the original online configuration.  Of course if the systems I ordered by phone do include the trial and other unwanted software I am out an additional hour for the time spent with the phone order.

    So why does the time spent removing unwanted software and the time spent trying to order a system without unwanted software by phone matter?  Basically I have better things to do with my time and my employer would rather not pay me to do things I shouldn’t need to do.  By the time the trial/unwanted software is removed from a Dell system it is much cheaper and faster to purchase the components locally and build a white box system myself.  If these systems I have just spent an hour ordering by phone arrive with any software beyond the OS and drivers this will be the last Dell system we will be purchasing.

  41. The Hidden Costs of Dell’s Preinstalled Crapware:

    When I ordered my new Dell Dimension 5150 in October 2005, I was quite explicit with the salesman on the phone that I wanted NOTHING on my machine other than what was discussed, especially NO preinstalled anti-virusware, as I had existing subscriptions I wanted to transfer to the new machine.

    When the new machine arrived with Norton 2005 (trial) preinstalled on it, I twitched as I knew about the horrors of uninstalling some prior versions of Norton (McCaffee too). When I attempted uninstall from the control panel, I could not remove it. Naturally, my efforts to install my existing version of NortonAV crashed repeatedly, leaving me unprotected from virus attack while things were being resolved.

    Calls to Dell Support were a joke! Dell techs told me that since I had not paid for the version of NortonAV (which Dell pre-installed), they could not help me with removing it. Forget the fact that I never wanted it preinstalled in the first place and explicitly told them so when I placed my machine order. This issue was the topic of multiple calls/complaints to Dell which they never resolved.

    I finally had to get help from Norton and was only able to remove the trialware after D/L a special removal utility from their support site. I invested about 5 hours of time (cumulately ) on this one issue alone and was never able to obtain a satisfactory response or any assistance from Dell whatsoever.

    Add to that, the failure of Dell to provide a copy of my OEM disc for Windows Media Center 2005 and I was righteously angry (still am). Apparently, they are now offering the disc as an added $$$ option with new systems – something I would have gladly paid for had I known it wasn’t included. 2 recent calls to Dell resulted in refusals to ship the OEM disc at any price.

    IF, and I emphasize IF, I ever consider buying another PC from Dell, it will be only if I can purchase it with a clean disk drive (no software) or if they are willing to include OEM disks in the quoted price.

  42. Part 2! – Update! – I’ve got System DIscs for a Clean Install!

    Two weeks has elapsed since I authored the terse comments above, dealing with bloatware and Dell’s chronic failure to provide the Genuine Microsoft system disks when they ship a new machine. I guess I was hoping for Dell’s Calcutta Tech Support to ride in on their magic carpet with a new Windows XP system disc for me. That didn’t happen.

    Instead, I payed a visit to Dell’s Forums, where I saw lots of posts just like mine. There, amidst the gnashing of teeth and loud swearing, was a single post by a Dell Forums Moderator addressing the issue:

    What? A Dell TS employee suggesting that TS will GIVE you the disks for the asking? I’m pretty sure he’s been fired by now. But, it did give me fresh courage to face Calcutta again to beg for a Windows XP disc.

    Today’s call to tech support confirmed that they are as stubborn as ever about sending out those discs. Initally, the rep attempted to refer me to Dell’s Paid Support Line and I complained rather agressively instead of paying their nominal fee of $49 to fix a problem that they caused to begin with.

    I spent upwards of an hour before I was able to convince the rep that I really did need the genuine Windows XP disc for doing a clean install, especially since I could not burn a back-up by following the approved method (Dell’s Restore/Recovery Utility). With my warranty expiration coming around soon, I felt sort of naked, not being able to do a clean install of the XP op system should I need to.

    I was ALMOST ready to throw in the towl and I finally gave the support person the URL of thie forum page and read to her the text of the forums post. Only THEN did I begin to receive any cooperation. I about fell over when the rep announced that she would send out the needed discs and that they should arrive in a week or so and at no charge. Besides the Windows XP disk, I’ll be getting drivers and utils for various other parts of the machine.

    I’ll be glad to finally have them on hand BEFORE a disaster strikes and I might need to do that clean install on an emergency basis.

    Why do they continue to put us through this grief? While my machine has been very dependable, this one issue of the system discs had almost soured me on Dell for good.

    How many customers does Dell lose over this ridiculous practice? Does Dell resist sending out the system discs in hopes that they can prevent customers from wiping their drives in order to get rid of all that crapware that is loaded onto the system? Explain it to me, PLEASE!

  43. To follow up my earlier post from August 18th, the two Dell laptops I was stupid enough to order have arrived fully ladden with unwanted bloat.  This despite the fact that I was repeatedly promissed by the phone rep that the machines would come with only WinXP and the necessary hardware drivers.  Repeatedly I was promised, and she repeated, that there would be no trial anti-virus, no juke box, no WP.  Stupid me thought she might have actually meant what she was saying.

    Not only is being lied to extremely annoying it is expensive too.  My time costs my employer money.  My time removing unwanted bloat adds to the cost of Dell systems, as a result other manufacturers computers are much cheaper.

    I will adamantely oppose any future purchases of Dell equipment within my organisation and will site the cost of removing unwanted software as the reason why Dell equipment too expensive.

  44. Yep, it’s a problem. Some configurations allow a genuine Windows installation CD, but it isn’t across the board – why not?

    A lack of responsiveness by DELL can only mean that their hands are tied by third party relationships with partner corporations. The question is whether or not the customer benefits from this through actual dollar savings from the cheaper prices.

    I know that I will be doing everything I can to purchase a DELL XPS m1510 (if it ever comes out) with a genuine Windows Vista DVD so that I can just format the entire HDD and install a clean build.

    Gotta love the right to be able to reinstall your genuine OEM licence of Windows Vista.

  45. I was horrified to find my brand new Dimension C521 filled with bloatware.  I am totally sick of the aggressive marketing of McAfee, with both PC manufacturers and broadband suppliers foisting it onto unwilling customers as if they were doing us some kind of favour.

    I wa hoping for a quick uninstall of McAfee so that I could replace it with AVG, which is both unobtrusive and highly effective.  Unfortunately, McAfee isn’t even listed in my “Add/Uninstall Programs” menu (the only part of it which is listed as an uninstall option is the McAfee Uninstall program itself… if that makes sense). 

  46. I posted on this blog back in August regarding an XPS system I bought that came filled with bloatware — including some software that created problems with the computer’s functioning.  I read about other people’s experiences buying an XPS with the “no pre-installed software” option and was about to try that option.  I’m posting this to update folks on my experience.

    I returned my first purchase and, after speaking to a person at Dell Corporate who was intimately involved in the bloatware issue, I re-ordered the system from the Dell website, this time opting for the “no preinstalled software” choice.  This choice is alternatively referred to as “limited preinstalled software”, and that’s the more appropriate name.  The Dell Corporate guy gave me a heads-up that the computer would come with less software but not “no”.

    Unfortunately, I can back up what Cassius wrote: when the machine arrived, it was pre-loaded with plenty of software, and specifically more software than the Dell Corporate guy had informed me would be there.  In particular, Google Toolbar was there, as well as a long list of other stuff I recognized from my first purchase.  This was obviously disappointing.  I can attest that there were indeed fewer pre-installed programs.  One program that was absent was AOL, which was quite a relief as it was one of the programs I had specifically complained about.  But through my experiences with both machines I’d learned a bit about dealing with bloatware issues, and I took the time to remove software I didn’t want.  I also found a way to solve the “endless hourglass” problem (described in my post above) using msconfig.  My machine currently seems to be running well.

    I applaud Dell for beginning to offer the “limited pre-installed software” option, though I request that they please do issue a clear list of what pieces of software will be included on such computers.  I’m posting this follow-up to inform people who may be in a similar position I was in, as to what to expect if they go this route.

  47. So much for Dell’s use of this blog to demonstrate their intent to become more responsive to customer issues. In review of all of the comments regarding bloatware, I see practically nothing here in the way of response from Dell that would suggest that Dell will  ever do anything different besides continuing to cram their trialware and adware down our throats.

    Common issues include:

    1)   Sales reps confirming that no bloatware is to be installed per “limited software install,”  yet so many customers are reporting that their new Dell systems continue to arrive as bloated as ever.

    2)   Dell’s chronic failure to ship the MS operating system disks which would enable customers to do a complete wipe and clean install.

    3)   Dell’s continued insistance that their customers WANT the bloatware and/or recommendations for software to run on their new Dell machines.

    Dell’s new blog has been a horrible failure as far as doing anything meaningful to address customer issues. Perhaps they were just afraid to contact me back in August when I was dealing with these problems.


  48. Have you made any internal tests on how long it actually
    takes for the customer when they get the machine.

    I just spent 3 hours cleaning an Inspiron 6400.

    It frankly raises the total cost of getting the computer to
    the user to a level where it is not competitive. Consequently we are not going
    to be ordering anymore Dell’s before we can get them without the bloatware.

    If you can make an online system that configures the PC,
    surely you can extend it so people can select the bloatware they want?

  49. in the last 4 months i got 5 different dell laptops on my desk for removing the bloatware, all of them has been stuffed with bloatware right out of the box. i did a complete system reinstall, even killing the recovery partion, starting over from scratch. This took me for every single pc more than 2 hours.

    i learned this the hard way:

    i tried only once with my fresh inspirion 9300 to remove the crap “their way” by clicking silly uninstall procedures, waiting hours gazing at a mousepointer turning into an hourglas, often with the result, that even after the recommanded reboot the so-called removing process had produced leftovers like “forgotten” services, belonging to McAfee, “orphan” registry hives, “undeleteable while in use” folders and so on.

    Me and my friends are really enjoying the hardware, but pls, give us a fair option to choose between “clean machine” and “cheaper bloated machine”.

    Dell, what is more important: a satisfied custumer with a clean machine, with less software, just the OS preinstalled or thousands of unhappy and upset customers, with a lot of problems for your service within the first 24h trying to install or remove unneeded bloatware. Even if McAfee pay´s you alot for that kind of unholy trust, its not worth! Its just nag-window pested trialware, collection privacy data and is simply not fully removeable from non-geeks.

  50. Does anyone know if I wipe clean my Dell E1505, will a XP re-installation give me the audio control buttons on the front?


  51. I was keen to here that Dell now provide an easy way to uninstall all the extras they put on…..only to find that that facility is not on my Inspiron 6400. Is it a UK thing?

    Not only that but I have just spent the best part of a week trying to resolve a severe peformance problem after I had installed MS Outlook 2003. It turns out that a pre-loaded “Outlook Addin” was causing the problem, but this took uninstalling everything methodically until I found the problem.

    What a waste of time when it was important that I got up and running quickly. I do feel a little let down as I have enjoyed my old Dell laptop which has lasted (just) for 6 years.

  52. For all your pre-installed BLOATWAREs… this will be your solution…. download and run this… PC Decrapifier . When you purchase your new system and you don’t want all the pre-installed softwares, just run this…. Good Luck! hope you will still buy a Dell. Ü

  53. I purchased an E1505 last fall and, as per SOP, reformatted the harddrive and made a dual-boot Linux/XP system.  Unfortunately, the XP CD I had paid the extra $10 to Dell for had none of the appropriate drivers for my chipset, etc.  In addition, the drivers supplied by dell seemed to have irreversibly pooched the system.  My video flickered when connected to an external source, and the audio sounded choppy.  Every so often, the computer would freeze when writing or reading large files.  This continued after three (3) complete changeovers of the computer innards, and a re-reformat of the XP system.

    Now, I’m relatively tech-savvy, but I’ve still had a bear of a time getting this fixed.  After four months of non-fixes, I’ve recently had the entire computer replaced, but am afraid to do a reformat, as I’d actually like to use the computer this time.

    It’s interesting to note, however, that the drive partitions are completely different from my last box — gone is the Norton Ghost, etc.  But all of the bloatware is present.

    My suggestion: please double check to include the appropriate drivers on your replacement CDs, keep them up to date, and make a FAQ for the very large community of people who appreciate Dell’s commitment to their warranties, but really hate the extra crap you load on the boxes.  This experience definitely makes me think twice about buying Dells. 


  54. I just ordered an E1505. I called Dell to tell them I only want the OS installed.

    …. What? ….

    I just want the OS, no AOL, no extras, no proprietary software, no trial software, no bloatware. Just the OS.

    …. Sir, we don’t uninstall software ….

    No, I don’t want you to uninstall it, I don’t want it installed to begin with. I want a clean OS with no add-ons.

    …. We can’t do that sir ….

    I quoted Dells words from this article.

    …. That’s not an option sir ….

    OK, I want the OS install media, not an image backup, the media to reinstall.

    …. Sir, a recovery disk comes with the computer ….

    No, I want the installation media so I can wipe the system when it arrives and install a virgin OS.

    …. Sir, I can connect you to our software sales if you’d like ….

    Are you telling me that if I want a virgin install of Vista, I’m going to have to spend $199.95 + when I’ve already paid for the OS on the Dell laptop?

    Why should I pay Dell for software I don’t want and is steeling clock cycles.

    Don’t try to tell me that uninstall uninstalls everything. I know better.

    Dell, if you really are giving this option to your customers, tell your people.

    My only option, when the laptop arrives, make a forensic image, wipe, and then re-install.

    If I have a problem with the machine later, put the image back and call Dell.

    What a waste.

    I am sorely tempted to buy a no OS laptop, but the Dell hardware is superior. I just wish they’d get their act together on the OS.

  55. This is a good article. The added trashware added to Dells’ has definitely got worse over the last 5 years – I notice each new incarnation of pre-loaded rubbish as the months roll by. Its worse than any of the other big players and definitely taints the Dell brand (negatively).

    The typical Dell Dimension system has 20 programs that slow the system (despite what has been said) and just confuse customers – and which time out. Remember Dell get paid to put this software on so it does subsidise the hardware to some extent, but personally Im sick of removing countless picture viewers, AV packages, browser add-ins, Google add-ons, network helpers, system updaters and ISP signups.

    Users spend more time closing the pop-ups these produce than working so they all get removed as soon as a Dell hits the desk.

    If you want virtually no software be aware that the Optiplex range have a far  smaller trashware footprint as business users wont stand for 20 irrelevant programs being loaded – so selecting from that range is a good idea but they generally cost more. The only rubbish on then is usually the Norton AV solution which slows your PC back to 2003 speeds (try AVG).

    Also be aware that if you run the Dell OS restore CD – which is just an OEM XP installation CD – you do NOT get all the rubbish re-loaded (which some people don’t seem to realise).



  56. Having spent endless hours in the past deinstalling bloatwares from my wife’s, my son’s, and my own dell desktops (sometimes unsuccessfully) and in the process having been rattled almost to the point of taking a hammer to them just before embarking on buying a dell laptop (taking advantage of the current promotional offerings) I accidentally hit on this blogpage. And glad am I! This blogsite just reminded me how much time I will waste and how frustrated and angry I might be again if I do that.

    Thanks fellows. You have cooled my greed to take advantage of a huge dell sales in laptops. I skip. I’m going to check out Macs. I hate to “undo”  things, pay for things I don’t need and especially don’t want (even if it is with my own labor). And I really hate to get angry.

  57. Time for PC manufacturers to stop making excuses and “do the right 
    thing” . . . . . .
    Thank You
    April 05, 2007

    Using Even New PCs Is Ruined by a Tangle Of Trial Programs, Ads

    By Walter S. M ossberg , WSJ

    When you buy a gleaming, new personal computer, the first thing you want to do is to try out its cool new features and make it your own. You want to savor how quickly it starts up and runs, and arrange the desktop icons to suit your tastes and habits.

    But as I rediscovered recently, often what you’re forced to do instead is to spend hours as a digital maintenance man wading through annoying and confusing chores. . . . . . .

  58. I agree with many others here who insist that the bundled software (including Google Desktop, AOL, Earthlink, etc) should be an option that we can choose not to have. We love our Dells (we have bought 3 within the past year) but it’s disgusting to pay so much for a computer and yet be unable to avoid this unwanted bloatware.

    Some people like it – great. I personally hate AOL software and don’t want it to touch my computer, not even a single icon. Simply give the rest of us a chance to uncheck a box during the ordering process so we don’t have to clean up our computers when they arrive. This shouldn’t be available only on certain computer models. It’s an option all Dell customers should have access to.

    Also, one other note: OS and other important software should come on cds with every new computer — this should be a standard procedure!

  59. as an MSDN subscriber I often reinstall OS on my machines.  I wish it was clearer on which Dell packages from the support site to what.  Which one do I need to install for button drivers, which one for audio, which for camera.  Do I have to install the apps that go with all of these or not?  What does the media connect service do?  I have XPS 1210, and have audio, but not the enhanced audio drivers working (based on the sound I am getting).  I have webcam working, but do not want the cam app if I don’t have to have it.  It is confusing and the packages on the support site do not explain very well what they are.

  60. Id love to buy a Dell PC but I wont buy one due to the Bloat-ware.

    A PC (Personal Computer) is just that, Personal to me. I should be able to decide what I do and dont want on the system.

     If I BYO any dell system, I can decide if I want XP or Vista, I dont recall sellecting fill-er-up will Bloat-ware.

    Their should be a tick box when BYO system where you can either select to have the Bloat-ware installed or just simply the OS and the relevent drivers for your machine etc.

    That way, people who are tech savey can pass on the Bloat-ware, and people who arnt so techy and think that the Bloat-ware is added value can select to have it.

  61. Personally, I would prefer to order what I want instead of having it forced on me – in my opinion, it just seems to be a way for third party vendors to market their products and I consider it invasive.

  62. Much agreed–I am the IT department of a company with just under 100 end users.  We buy dell for the price and quality of warranty support.  with buying mostly latitudes and optiplexes (business class machines) there is less “bloatware,” but there is nothing like formatting a system and installing just the OS and drivers.  looking forward to putting a WSUS server in place to reduce config time too.  In my opinion, always get the windows media CD even if it’s stamped with dell’s logo; it is just an OEM windows CD that will give you a virgin OS (I’m speaking XP here, no experience yet with vista).  as for drivers I always go directly to and download the newest drivers for the Service Tag; and only the ones I need (Chipset, audio, video, NIC, and dell quickconnect for laptops)  the challenge is deciding on the driver type you need (eg Broadcom or Intel etc when it comes to NICs)  Also, I don’t bother with the drivers and utilities CD’s out of the box because even that makes you install the dell resources program which bloats the system “in order to make it easier to install hardware/system drivers.”–if you get the proper drivers from the support site you’re going to get newer driver versions than the Resource CD anyway–especially if you’re re-imaging a few years after your box shipped.–95% of the time getting the drivers from the site won’t steer you wrong.


    That’s what i have.

  63. I mean, with so many complaints about bloatware it’s good that Dell is taking action but why charge extra?? People who know nothing about computers get the bloatware and don’t notice. People who know what they’re doing take the system with the bloatware and re-install Windows. I’m doing this tomorrow with my new t61p.

  64. Putting $900 worth of parts into an older Dell computer does not seem like sound professional IT advice. Computer crashed about a month later, no help or anything.

  65. Build your own PC.  I just recently did that and it blows away anything that Dell has to offer in both performance, quality and price.  I did break down and got a licensed retail version of XP Pro and used that for the new system.  OEM XP software from dell has limitations on licensing and what you get from Dell always has Dell BS in it.  Windows provides the ability for manufacturers such as Dell to customize the XP installation for their OEM XP software they provide, and believe me, they do.  It is so nice to be rid of Dell and on my own.

    PS – Worried about support?  First, I have yet to have any kind of problem with my system, just do a little homework up front and you are perfectly fine.  Second, whatever problem you find, you will certainly find a credible answer on the internet hours before a Dell support tech can give you an answer. 

  66. Get rid of mcafee and norton, they both bloatware.Toolbars in IE are bloatware, and i dont care if its yahoo or google.

    Whatever happend to trends pc-cilin?

    “PS – Worried about support?  First, I have yet to have any kind of
    problem with my system, just do a little homework up front and you are
    perfectly fine.  Second, whatever problem you find, you will certainly
    find a credible answer on the internet hours before a Dell support tech
    can give you an answer. “

    Dude your forgetting that not everyone knows how to use the internet and even worse use a computer. And you get people askign support that their internet is not working after being told that their provider cant help them.  


  67. I have a Dell dimension 3000 which came with the preinstalled XP. I recently began learning korean so i wanted to install the east asian languages. When I attempted to I got a message that said to input the service pack 2 disc but the only disc I recieved from dell was the XP reinstall disc which will not load the asian fonts

  68. I recently had to do a PC restore which was when I learned that Norton Ghost is used for this.  I had seen no evidence of it on my computer before.  Now it is in my system tray wanting my to buy it before it expires.  I want to delete it but don't want to lose the original configuration info it provides if I ever have to restore again.  Am I safe to delete it?

  69. The moral of all this being – don't even bother with a Dell system, build your own, get a small OEM to build it (or email me of course) who will actually listen and not install unwanted garbage on the system. Dell, you shot yourselves in the foot here with what could have been a positive move on your part and yet became just the opposite. It's now February 2008 and yet no real move on Dell's part to get rid of the bloatware and nothing from  Michelle Pearcy, WW Client Software Manager  (or whatever luckless soul they've hired to lie to the public now) by way of response to the many valid points that have been raised here. I predict that within 2 years, Dell will cease to exist.

  70. on second hand you need just the controlers (drivers) like network in you intend to download ubunto. there are software like microsoft's stedy state. which blocks out unaurtherized installs (e.g. firefox.exe) and create guest accounts so users can customize there enviorments and keep them from messing up your conrigurations. (remember that "no-internet" lady?)

  71. How sweet is revenge. Thanks to all of the posts here, which we read only minutes after ordering six new Inspirons, we were able to cancel the order before it shipped, and we made certain that Dell knew that we cancelled exclusively because of our inability to remove URL Assistant. 

    Many thanks to all of you. Do you realize that nearly every single post here is has an unhappy customer? Mr. Dell must be otherwise occupied.

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