One positive from Superfish: Less bloatware on Lenovo’s new PCs

Lenovo’s credibility took a big hit this month, courtesy of the Superfish scandal: Pre-installed adware on Lenovo computers resulted in a risk to user privacy and security. The company has since apologized but is now going an extra step, bringing some solace from the incident. Lenovo says it will vastly reduce the amount of bloatware on its computers, going forward.

Lenovo ThinkPad X250

The no.1 PC maker in worldwide sales issued a statement on Friday with the news, and says it plans to be the leader of safer and cleaner computers:

We are starting immediately, and by the time we launch our Windows 10 products, our standard image will only include the operating system and related software, software required to make hardware work well (for example, when we include unique hardware in our devices, like a 3D camera), security software and Lenovo applications.  This should eliminate what our industry calls “adware” and “bloatware.”  For some countries, certain applications customarily expected by users will also be included.

While I certainly don’t view the Superfish issue as a positive one, this may be the best, unexpected outcome as the result.

For far too long, PC makers have worked deals with third-party software vendors to pre-install crapware in order to generate extra revenues. In many cases, these apps are of limited or no benefit to customers who buy the hardware only to either uninstall the unwanted apps or let them stay installed, which can waste system resources. Lenovo will also publicly post information about any non-standard software that it does include with its computers in order to raise consumer awareness and transparency.

Although both steps are long overdue in the industry, they’re welcome ones.

And if they aren’t enough for you, a similar but different option to buy a “Signature Edition” computer directly from Microsoft’s store. The company offers many of the same laptops and desktops you can purchase from a hardware maker or retailer but without any additional crapware or bloatware.

Apple’s blanket bloatware ban as strong as ever

Apple is nowhere near relaxing its strict rules for carrier partners, according to Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo. Negotiations to bring the the iPhone to Japan’s largest cellular network operator have hit an impasse since Apple won’t back down on a rule against pre-installing software on devices.

Today in Cleantech

Want to know a surefire way of killing your smartphone’s battery life? Load it up with bloatware! That’s what handset makers HTC and Motorola stand accused of doing on some of their Android handsets. It’s a problem that plagued PC makers for years, causing buyers to complain about degraded performance (the industry has improved somewhat). Most PCs, however, are plugged into a power socket.  Mobiles, on the other hand, spend a big chunk of their time completely untethered, relying on their batteries to keep their owners connected throughout the day.  These are not the kind of devices that need non-essential, pre-installed apps and widgets sucking their batteries dry.  Worse, Android may become known as the bloatware-friendly mobile OS, and I’m not so sure that’s how I’d want to be perceived while facing stiff competition from the likes of Apple’s iPhone and its iOS ecosystem.