Why pre-installed software is a bad thing

Everytime I buy a new computer or new smartphone it comes loaded to the gunnels with a ton of useless software that I have no need of and no desire to use.

Smartphones are the worst – my favourite manufacturer insists on loading rubbish such as Evernote which I don’t use, don’t want to use and would rather uninstall. Sadly however no matter how you try to get rid of Evernote on your Samsung you’ll find that you can’t unless you root your phone which normally invalidates the warranty.

Computer manufactueres are just as bad, you’ll find your least favourite anti-virus software installed and a ton of other random programs which you’ve never used in the past and the best thing you can do is uninstall the lot as soon as you’ve booted up your PC for the first time.

An example is Nitro Pro which Lenovo instist on installing. It’s basically a souped up PDF reader with some editig functionality. However after a brief trial you have to pay to continue using Nitro so almost everyone will do the sensible thing and download Adobe’s free PDF reader. Nitro is a typical waste of space that few will want and, if you do need the functionality, you’re probably experienced enough to search the web and choose your own PDF edit software.

This week I replaced my laptop and on booting up my new Lenovo and installing anti-virus software was instantly greeted to a load of malware warnings. It appears that Lenovo in their wisdom bundled Superfish Visual Search software. Basically it’s some crud which injects advertising into results from search engines. It also intercepts supposedly secure encrypted (SSL/TLS) website communications which means it can intercept passwords and other sensitive data!

Lenovo Pre-Installed Superfish virusHaving erradicated and uninstalled the rubbish, Lenovo belated sent a warning to my computer telling me “Published reports have recently identified potential security concerns about the software” and “We recommend that you uninstall Superfish“.

Translation: Lenovo have pre-installed malware by mistake. Superfish have got themselves such a bad name that they’ve tried to hide their past and now masquerade as JustVisual to try and hide their past.

There’s a reason that manufacturers install bloatware – it’s because they get paid to do it by the software companies. Sometimes it’s desirable to have a manufacturer tweaked software install, for instance to add tools for your computer hardware or on smartphones to add specific manufacturer functionality. Most of the time however it’s greed and avarice.

It’s greed on the part of the manufacturer who want to squeeze every penny then can out of the deal, even if it’s at the expense of the consumer who is inflicted with rubbish taking up hard drive space, memory and processor overhead. It’s also avarice on the behalf of us the consumer – we demand competitive prices and in order to achieve this have become accustomed to putting up with bloatware.

Personally I’d rathr just pay a bit more and get a computer or smartphone that isn’t riddled with crap, especially when said crap turns out to be malware. That’s impossible however, there isn’t a manufacturer out there that provides computer or phones full of stuff I don’t want and will never use.