With Vista, Microsoft Seeks to Limit PC Bundleware

According to a recent report by CBS News, Microsoft believes that PC makers are undermining the quality of Windows by bundling so many horrible add-on applications with their systems. With the upcoming Windows Vista OS, especially, Microsoft would like new PCs to provide customers with a better user experience than was possible in the past. There's just one problem: Thanks to years of regulatory oversight, Microsoft has no legal way to prevent PC makers from bundling third-party applications with Vista.

The CBS report arose out of a confidential chat with Microsoft representatives at last 'week's 2007 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). But Microsoft has been striving for years, with little success, to streamline the number of default third-party applications that are bundled on PCs with Windows client OSs. "We can't do anything about it because it would be illegal," an unnamed Microsoft representative reportedly told CBS News.

Microsoft refers to these bundled applications as "craplets," a word that combines "crap" and "applet" (and certainly, most are both). Windows PCs are notorious for the wide range of bundled software that's typically included with the OS, and despite Microsoft's best efforts, PC makers will almost certainly continue the practice with Vista. The reason is monetary: PC makers are typically paid a per-PC fee by application makers eager to place their wares in front of as many potential customers as possible. Most bundled software is operationally limited in some way in order to create a potential upsell.

For its part, Microsoft has streamlined Vista in various ways that will benefit consumers and, the company hopes, inspire its partners to behave similarly. For example, Microsoft has removed the Vista boot logo to speed PC boot times and has removed virtually all icons from the default Vista desktop.

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