Bloatware is becoming more and more of a problem for Windows users. Some, often very useful, software will install so much rubbish on your PC that it becomes harder to use, or even downright slow. Inexperienced users will often find their computers unusable because companies bundle too much addition software, or add too many features into their product. I’ll count down some of the worst examples, starting with the absolute king of the hill…
1. Nero Burning ROM
The system requirements for Nero specify that you’ll need 1.2 GB (yes, gigabytes) to install version 8 of Ahead’s DVD burning software. A full install will add 25 programs to your system, some of which have absolutely nothing to do with burning optical discs. Most of these programs are of a decent quality, but there’s just too many of them, and if you simply ‘OK’ your way through the install, you’ll end up with all of them.
If that happens to you, you’ll find that with pretty much every file you double-click, a Nero tool will start, instead of the software you were using to view or edit that specific type of file.
2. Apple QuickTime
I guess Apple is trying to get Windows users to ‘switch’ by showcasing their applications’ sometimes-superior usability. They’re just going about it all wrong. If you don’t watch out, the QuickTime video player install will also set up iTunes. The Windows versions of both are sluggish and instable, but nonetheless, they will set themselves up to handle pretty much all types of media, if you do not specify otherwise. As if I want to wait for half a minute when I double-click a PNG image or an mp3.
My suggestion: Either try QTlite, or go through every settings panel you come across during installation, and be sure to kill the system tray icon afterwards. You’ll also have to remove icons from the desktop and the quick launch. Way to go Apple!
3. Hardware drivers
I got a new mouse a little while ago. It’s got a few extra buttons, so it came with a software tool that lets you assign these, and do a few other things. This 60(!) megabyte download (which I consider to be humongous) will also ask to install an application that will push notifications from Logitech to your screen. In other words, I’ll have a system tray icon that notifies me if there’s a new driver, or a new product, or whatever it is Logitech has on its mind. No thank you. I like my mouse, but it works. I don’t need the newest driver all the time, and certainly not at the expense of system resources that could be used by the programs I’m clicking my way through with my new cordless little Logitech critter.
Other drivers, like those for video cards have also turned into huge applications with colorfully skinned interfaces and a plethora of semi-useful features.
My suggestion: There’s really very little you can do about this, but it doesn’t hurt to go through the advanced install procedure and deselect anything you won’t be needing.
4. ICQ, MSN, etc
In my opinion, instant messaging applications should be lightweight, clutter free and easy to use. All the main players in the field have let their applications become decorated like Christmas trees with all sorts of silly features. A notable exception is Google’s ‘Talk’, but only some of my buddies use it.
My suggestion: Use Miranda, it replaces all of them, and is truly tiny and extremely flexible. A marvel.
5. Photoshop Elements
A few years ago, Photoshop’s little brother was well on its way to becoming a feasible alternative for the full version of Adobe’s photo editor. It lacked a few features, but the user interface looked familiar, and it was snappy to use. My wife now has a trial version of the latest ‘Elements’ installed, and it’s terrible. It’ll launch itself the minute you even think about clicking an image file. It’ll then take minutes to load, only to present you with a terrible, non-Windows looking user interface.
The ‘skin’ wouldn’t be as bad if it wasn’t so very very slow. I get the impression that somewhere underneath all that gray there’s a copy of CS3 running. A 2 GHz machine with 1.5 GB of RAM should be able to run a consumer oriented software program, but Adobe manages to let it come to a grinding halt.
My suggestion: Get an older version, perhaps even of Elements’ bigger brother. Or use Irfanview and Picasa. The two combined will let you manage, (somewhat) edit and even batch-convert your images for free, and at full speed.