“Factory computers” have been loaded with demos and trials for several years now in an effort to subsidize part of the cost, get lower prices, and bloat your computer — that last part is unintentional. Microsoft created their “Signature” lineup of PCs a couple of years ago to highlight products that only have software which Microsoft intended to install. Microsoft will soon offer a service to bring existing PCs to what Microsoft deems a Signature status for $99 if you can find a Microsoft store.
While our readers are affected by this story they are probably less so than just about any other blog.
If you did not acquire your computer by having it assembled — and if you did, we hope you consulted our regularly updated Hardware Leaderboard — you probably purchased it from an OEM. To make their product seem more appealing most OEMs load their products with product demos and other advertisements. This is particularly bad for PCs because they are not only annoying but also tend to bog the machine down.
What is it with Microsoft Stores and awkward $99 products lately?
(and yes I realize the image is inaccurate because I chose a non-consumer workstation)
Since Microsoft tends to get the brunt of the bad recognition when a Windows machine it comes to no surprise that they eventually attempted to encourage a more vanilla experience. The Microsoft “Signature” lineup of PCs were OEM-produced machines which have been removed of all software that should not come with Windows — except maybe a few Windows Live Essentials products.
Microsoft will expand their Signature program to any PC if you can find a Microsoft Store and pay $99 to undo what their partners did.
It is unclear what specific goal Microsoft is hoping to accomplish with this program. Everyone’s first reaction would be that they are attempting to cash in at the expense of their users but that just does not make sense. They could be attempting to promote the Windows store but this certainly seems less like a carrot and more like a wet noodle. They could also be trying to pressure their OEMs by reducing the cost-per-impression they can acquire for each ad because of how easily it could be removed.
It would be most like Microsoft to honestly believe that this service will be appreciated by users. If that is true, I must disagree. ZDNet has already used this as an excuse to promote Apple computers — which makes me headdesk because $99 is pocket change compared to that — so I expect that if that was Microsoft’s intent it will backfire wholly.
What do you think Microsoft’s goal is: selfish vulching their consumers or something less devious?