Dell & Bloatware, 2007

Direct2Dell

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Dell & Bloatware, 2007

I remember writing my first blog post on this topic in the early days of Direct2Dell. Lionel told me that it was one of the most popular posts back then, and I know there continues to be a lot of chatter about bloatware in blogs and mainstream media articles—Wacky Chap and eWEEK articles are recent examples. It's popular on IdeaStorm as well: user carpevis submitted Preinstalled Software Must Be Optional idea just a few days after IdeaStorm came into being and it's still high up on the front page there. A related idea submitted on the first day of IdeaStorm, No Extra Software Option, from user ootleman is still on the front page as well.

Today I wanted to take a few minutes to share additional actions we have taken in this area. We've expanded our opt-out offering on XPS products as well as through our Dimension desktops and Inspiron notebooks. This means when you configure a system on Dell.com, you have the option of choosing "No software pre-installed" for things like productivity software, ISP software and photo and music software. On most XPS systems, the no software options are the default choice. The end result is that customers can tailor the amount and type of software that is preinstalled on their systems to meet their specific needs at time of purchase.

In the future, we'll blog about new offerings for small business customers that will give them more control over software installed on new systems.

So, what software is left? Trial versions of anti-virus software (on Dimension and Inspiron), Acrobat Reader (it’s required to read electronic copies of system documentation), and Google tools. Why do we treat anti-virus apps a little differently? For two reasons: 1) Because a lot of our customers proactively select a subscription to a security service which includes anti-virus and firewall capabilities. 2) Because many of our customers simply expect their PCs to be protected at first boot and beyond.

Customers that don’t want the anti-virus trial software have a couple of options:

  • They can decline the end user license agreement (EULA) at first boot to automatically uninstall. In the future, we are working to have all our software function in a similar manner.
  • They can use the new Dell uninstall application to get rid of it. See the last paragraph before the video for more details.

Regarding Google tools, a quick clarification—Google tools that are pre-installed on Dell systems are a bit different from google.com, and can’t be easily compared. Blog posts like this one express concern about the URL Assistant specifically. The purpose of this utility is to handle a mis-typed URL by responding with a webpage of suggested links that contains both sponsored pages (paid placement) and typical search result links, versus returning an error page with no results or guidance. Some folks prefer the suggested information, some don’t. For folks who are interested, click on the Remove the URL Assistant link in this Knowledge Base article for instructions on how to remove it.

We have also recently launched a software uninstall utility in the U.S. It allows customers to further control and choose what software is on their system. This tool is pre-installed on Dimension and Inspiron systems, and is not available for download because it is tailored to the software on the system. While today this does not remove all Dell-installed software on the system, we will continue to improve its functionality to ensure it meets customers’ needs. Jeremy Friedlander from my team takes you through how it works and more in this vlog.

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  • Its seems rather amusing, that Dell are now 'pre-installing' an uninstall utility!

     Thats just another of software that the end-user just doesn't need/want.

     Surely it would be much easier, to place a folder of all the usual software on the desktop for people to reference if they need it.  A splash screen on first log-in could inform the user of what software is available to them on the system, along with installation prompts?

     That would then meet all the customers needs, and surely would make it easier for Dell when they need to update an application that they are distributing (as they won't have to install it on all their images).

  • When I say I want no software other than Windows and Office, I MEAN I WANT NO SOFTWARE OTHER THAN WINDOWS AND OFFICE!!

     I remember last year when I ordered 8 BRAND NEW Optiplex machines for a client.  When the machines arrived, my client ripped me a new one because all of the machines came with the Google CRAPWARE on them and I had to spend time - time I could NOT bill my client for - removing that filth.  I called my rep and at the time SHE DID NOT KNOW DELL WAS INSTALLING THE GOOGLE TOOLS.  In fact, the option to remove wasn't even on her screen.

     I also want to know why I have to get the Adobe PDF editing software THAT I HAVE TO PAY FOR but cannot get the machine without.

    Until this issue is resolved - until I can get the software I want on computers I order and pay good money for, I will continue to shake my fists and curse the darkness that is DELL COMPUTER.

     Fairplay

  • I would like to address Mr. Barclay in re: to his response.  Mr. Barclay, while I wholeheartedly agree with your stance of an initial uninstall option for the bloatware, bloatware is a way that allows companies such as DELL to reduce the price of ownership on a product.  Bloatware, while a major inconvenience is a child of capitalism and in part the desire for owners to get the maximum bang for the buck.  Think about it this way; when a company buys advertising space in a magazine, they pay the magazine for space, which reduces printing costs for the magazine company, and that's why so many magazines are 30 to 40% advertising space.

    In addition, although people do complain about the bloatware, the fact DELL at least offers an option to uninstall, or for no pre-installed software to be extant is a step in the right direction on DELL's part.  In Barclay's defense, it is not right for customers to have to contend with excessive bloat that slows down the computer and pops up randomly with annoying messages and requires a complete reformat to fully purge.  Google Tools and other programs that provide paid sponsorship could very well be a form of spyware / adware that record personal usages and can send to companies for pop-ups and whatnot; an invasion of privacy if you ask me.

    Furthering this point, the XPS system (fortunately) does not come with such bloat, but at the same time Mr. Menchaca even admits that the Dell Bloatware uninstall will not remove everything.  There needs to be an ability to completely and totally remove everything (Google tools, adobe, etc.) because some people do not desire or want these things pre-installed.  The best idea for DELL would be to put the bloatware on a separate disk, and label it as "Trial programs" and then decide whether the consumer wishes to install the trials / adware or not.

    Jason

  • If the OEM OS media is included with the system as well as any proprietary drivers required for the specific system on another media , a simple re-install of the OS should take care of the bloatware problem.

    The thing is, I don't know if Dell makes the OEM OS media available or if they only make a re-install image (with bloatware included) available.

    If the latter is the case, well, you will pardon me if I rage against the machine.

  • Please, stop trying to kid us about why "we treat anti-virus apps a little differently", especially when no such argument applies to the Google tools.

    We know full well the financial reason why they are installed, as outlined by Mr Ganz, and understand it. However, if a customer chooses "No software pre-installed", they don't "expect their PCs to be protected at first boot and beyond" - they expect no software pre-installed. Don't insult our intelligence by pretending this is done for our benefit. Either give us the option and honour it by actually installing nothing extra, or call the option what it really is, e.g. "Minimal software pre-installed".

    What's more, not a single one of your official arguments for inclusion of this software holds up for business customers. Most medium to large businesses will have their own site-licensed AV already, so there is no convincing argument for pre-installing trial AV software. Not all businesses re-image machines the moment they come through the door (though it is an increasingly attractive option), but an awful lot of them want only a specific software set which doesn't include consumer-oriented apps like Google Desktop. Please stop wasting our time by having us manually remove this from the 100 machines we deploy each year.

  • @Ben Jesuit

    Dell provides with every computer or laptop a special rescue disk with an oem windows on it. You could just format c: and reinstall windows - but who pays that extra time you have to spend?

    It would be much easier to have no extra SW installed when you get the ne machine. 

    But I think Google and Dell didn't have taken care of that when they made their "partnership". :( 

     

     

  • So still need to be reformat and reinstall....... lol....

     

    ......what's the point of this article, anyway? 

  • What customers really need to begin doing is returning every computer they purchase that is loaded with Bloatware when they do not specifically order it.  The loss that generates will surely outweigh the kickbacks Dell is receiving from the bloatware companies.
  • Can the uninstall utility uninstall itself?
  • I think Dell are going to have to make some more great software in the form of a scanner...but for DellWare instead, because no one smart enough to make that kind of software would ever buy from Dell. but i guess all they really care about is the sell to the big companies that buy millions worth of computers that they are not the end user of.
  • Dell still doesn't get this.  While I enjoy the progress being made here, the fact is Dell (like most OEMs, but Dell seems to be the worse here) will put revenue above end-users.  How many times do we have to say 'We do not want ANY added software other than the OS" on our system?  I do not want Google.  Yet you put Google tools on our machines because Google pays you, per machine, to do it.  You will put your revenue deals above your end-user requests.  If you really wanted to make a stand here you would let us have the option to remove EVERYTHING and have just a default OS and drivers (fine with the PDF reader since you need it to read documentation).

    Nice try, but your spinning won't be accepted by all of us.  Not until you put end-users above revenue and give us the freedom we have long demanded.

     G

  • Regarding your "uninstall utility", I'm sorry, but I thought Windows already had that - it's called "Add/Remove Programs".  Why can't Dell just make all bloatware actually conform with the way Windows software is <b>supposed to work</b> and allow Add/Remove to do its thing?  Seems to me like you're purposely creating malware applications, then then only after lots of arm-twisting are you releasing an "uninstall utility"  that will remove <b>some</b> of this crud, if you ask it <i>really nicely</i>.

     I always recommend to my clients and friends that the first thing they should do with a new Dell is format c: and reinstall Windows cleanly.  YMMV.
     

  • I´m buying quite a lot Systems from different vendors.

    Like Dell, HP, FSC and Acer.

    All of them have some Bloatware on it, like a useless Virus Scanner, Google Tools, some photo programs etc.

    But Dell beats them all. All others have 3 or so programs on it.

    Dell: 7-10. And if they could get away with it, they would put 1000 on it.

    I am telling everybody to stop ordering Dells, but unfortunately some still do. 

  • By the way, Norton Antivirus and McAcfee are horrible pieces of bloatware which are very difficult to get rid of.

     Please just give us the option to get rid of this crap, either when we buy the computer or when we load up the machine.

    Then again, I'll be buying a Linux laptop if I buy Dell ever again.
     

  • I recently bought a Dell Inspiron notebook, which I have been reasonably happy with.

    However, recently I have been dealing with institutions that use web sites that require IE. When I attempted to change the options (tools->internet options) just to reset my homepage I could not access ANY of the options.

     As a result, I had to run through the registry and delete all pre-set default URLs and anything with google in it. Finally, I realized that tweaking a homepage entry from 1 to 0 will allow me to set my own homepage.

    Is this really necessary? I've had to spend the last hour almost randomly tweaking my registry (which is backed up) just to get my browser to work in a basic way for me.

     I've worked in the tech industry for years, so I can probably deal with any issues with this. BUT, how many system admins have to waste valuable time dealing with users who have hobbled their own machines just to get things to work in a very BASIC way??

    I'm sorry, this is a poor way to run a business. I'm not going to bother with a dell again if I can avoid it.