If you go out and buy a Windows-based computer, you will generally find a copy of Windows installed — along with vast quantities of shovelware of varying degrees of desirability. Microsoft has apparently decided to spare some of us this indignity, though not out of the goodness of their flinty little hearts:
Preinstalled trial versions of useless software have been slowing down new PCs for years, and Microsoft is finally offering a solution: bring your PC into a Microsoft Store and pay them $99 to install a clean copy of Windows.
The new program is an outgrowth of Microsoft’s “Signature” PC initiative, which sells bloatware-free versions of PCs from Microsoft’s partners in Microsoft stores. AllThingsD [warning: intro screen] reports that Microsoft is now offering to change any computer into a Signature PC if customers bring it into the store and pay the requisite fee. Signature PCs also include Microsoft’s Windows Live Essentials programs; the ad-supported, Word and Excel-only Microsoft Office Starter edition; the Microsoft Security Essentials antivirus package; and the Zune media player software. Users can choose not to have these programs installed, and can also specify if they would like other third-party browsers or programs installed. Ninety days of free phone support is also included.
Now how much would you pay to avoid ever having to see [name of fantastically bloated “security” software] again?
Meanwhile in Europe, Microsoft may be required to offer download links for rival browsers in Windows 8, as a result of an antitrust settlement with the European Union.