Ask Paul: The Importance of Clean PC

Posted on March 3, 2015 by Paul Thurrott in Paul, Windows Weekly with 0 Comments

Much of my email traffic is from people looking for help, but regardless of that it’s full of mostly positive exchanges. Sometimes, however, I get truly ignorant feedback. This is one of those times.

I don’t intend to normally share this kind of email, and I see the “Ask Paul” series as a way to extend an answer I’ve given to someone out to a wider audience. But on that note, this email is a good chance to further discuss something I feel is in fact very important. So what the heck.

Stew Danko writes:

I have been a long time listener of Windows Weekly and listen to the audio podcast every week in my car.  However, lately you have been going off on more and more frequent rants about crapware on PC’s.

Enough, already.  Microsoft experimented with Signature PC’s that eliminate the crapware, but that was a bust.  I still use the crapware that came with my PC 4 years ago.  People have little to no interest in eliminating crapware from PC’s despite the recent infortunate [sic] debacle with Lenovo, Komodia and Superfish.  The misstep has been well recognized by the industry and Lenovo has vowed to aggressively rectify the problem.

Besides, Microsoft is one of the biggest promoters of crapware in the business.  Try to buy a Windows PC these days that does NOT have a 30 day trial version of Office 365 that holds modification of your office files hostage if you don’t pony up the subscription fee.  Also, nobody looks for Windows with Bing when they are shopping for a computer.  These are promotions to defray the cost of Windows, so why shouldn’t PC makers do the same with crapware?  I’ve heard you promote intrusive tracking while on the net; how is this different?

Give it up.  Your rant is just empty whining and is THE crapware of Windows Weekly.


This is the most ignorant email I’ve gotten in a long time.


But let me expand on that a bit. Aside from the inaccuracies in this guy’s email—there is no such thing as  a 30-day Office 365 trial, for example, and Microsoft has done everything it can to stop crapware bundling—in my opinion, I can’t possible “rant” about clean PCs and crapware enough. It’s just not possible.

To set the record straight, yes, every Windows-oriented tech blogger on earth has suddenly “discovered” crapware thanks to Lenovo and many are publishing suddenly timely articles about how one might remove crapware from their PCs and so on. As readers of this and my previous site know, however, this isn’t a trendy topic for me. And my recent Clean PC initiative has absolutely NOTHING to do with Lenovo: In fact, you can see that I started writing this series in January, before the Snapfish drama unfolded. You know, when this site had just started.

But I’ve been writing about crapware for years, and I was the first tech journalist to write an in-depth report about the real-world effectiveness of Microsoft’s Signature PC program. I routinely provide relevant software picks on Windows Weekly—which I’ve been recording with Leo Laporte since late 2006 (and more recently with Mary Jo Foley as well). This isn’t a small thing, a temporary attempt to seize the moment. This is part of what I do.

Two things about that.

When I think about my job/career/whatever you want to call it, it ultimately boils down to some very simple themes. No, I’m not curing cancer, but I’m here to help. Fundamentally, I want to help people who have similar interests—technology in general, Microsoft technology specifically—get things done better and more efficiently. I have never positioned myself as an expert of any kind, though some people try to describe me that way. Instead, I’m just a fellow traveler, someone with questions and, yes, some answers, someone who can hopefully communicate effectively and at least look in the right place when I’m not sure.

And crapware ruining the Windows PC experience is a core part of what I care about. It always has been.

As for my recent Clean PC push, all I have to do is look at my content roadmap planning document for, which I created throughout late December 2014 and early January. There are many items in there—DIY/PC build, hardware reviews, Basics/101 articles, What I Use—and so on. And Clean PC is in there …several times. Under Basics/101. Under Quick Fix (how-to series). Under “Strategies” (backup/etc.). Under Tools of the Trade.  This is something I have always cared about.

So if I want to use Satya Nadella’s absolute baloney statement that he wants users to love Windows as the impetus for helping people clean their PCs, I feel no shame in doing so. And ditto for wanting to hold up Lenovo’s screw-up—and eventually turnaround—as a reason to keep pushing. This isn’t empty whining or hyperbole. It’s important. And no, I am not going to stop.

Check out my Clean PC articles for more information. I’ve got more on the way, including how you can clean install Windows 8.1 on a Windows 8 PC, and why Signature PC is the way to go if you live in the US or Canada. I’ll be writing about Clean PC long after the Lenovo fiasco has died down, and I will keep this series up to date as changes occur.

As for you, let me know what you need. Like I said, I don’t have all the answers. But I’ll try to find them, and if the comments I’ve seen on the previous Clean PC articles are any indication, there’s a lot of expertise and knowledge out there that will help us all get there.

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