You just bought that brand new PC or laptop. You turn it on for the first time, see the Windows logo flash across your screen and – after a couple of prompts – the Windows desktop launches. Your brand new, super-fast machine is ready to go and things start popping up asking for permission to do one thing or another, there are mysterious icons in your system tray or Windows desktop, and just what are those applications in the Start menu?
Virtually every Windows machine you might purchase from any vendor is filled with various forms of “bloatware,” software that is installed by the system builder because they either believe it improves the performance of the hardware, or just because they are getting paid to do so. As the profit margins on building laptops and PCs have decreased, the extra revenue from including bloatware on otherwise pristine Windows installs has become standard.
Many IT professionals remove these applications before rolling out a new machine. Or they may completely wipe the drive clean and do a fresh Windows install from the system media. For normal people, though, going through this process, which may require reinstalling device drivers or other applications, is too time-consuming, scary and difficult to even attempt. For the vast majority of users, whatever happens to be installed on a machine when it’s purchased is just something to live with for as long as they own it.
In Windows 10 (under Settings | Recovery), there is a feature called “Reset this PC”. Selecting this option performs a refresh of the Windows 10 operating system. It’s meant to be used to correct issues with Windows 10 that are causing it to perform poorly. I’ve found it to be an amazingly efficient way to cure all sorts of annoying problems when they pop up.
When doing a Windows 10 reset, any applications that are not core Windows are removed. When the reset is completed, the OS is not restored to the original state when the machine was purchased (with any bloatware installed), but reset to a fresh, pristine install as intended by Microsoft (and no bloatware!)
What’s important here is that it’s much easier to do a reset than it ever was to rebuild Windows from a CD/DVD. It’s become more reasonable for regular users to actually boot up a new machine, run a reset to remove all of the non-standard Microsoft stuff, and then with a few reinstalls of the applications they actually care about, have a greatly improved computing experience.
As more and more applications are installed from the cloud, all it takes is logging into a few websites, letting a small installer run and then waiting for everything to just happen. If more users did this when buying a new PC, the incentive to add this bloatware would decrease and vendors wouldn’t even bother to include it in the first place. I would even love to see Microsoft offer some option when a machine is turned on for the first time to do an immediate reset for a pure Windows experience.
The system isn’t perfect yet. It would be nice if Windows were able to automatically install the applications that you wanted to keep after the reset is completed. But as the ability to “factory reset” Windows to the original state intended by Microsoft becomes easier and less intimidating, the overall experience of using a PC or laptop will vastly improve. Hopefully, Microsoft will move in this direction and focus on giving its billion of users the best experience possible.