Dell & Bloatware, 2007

I remember writing my first blog post on this topic in the early days of Direct2Dell. Lionel told me that it was one of the most popular posts back then, and I know there continues to be a lot of chatter about bloatware in blogs and mainstream media articles—Wacky Chap and eWEEK articles are recent examples. It's popular on IdeaStorm as well: user carpevis submitted Preinstalled Software Must Be Optional idea just a few days after IdeaStorm came into being and it's still high up on the front page there. A related idea submitted on the first day of IdeaStorm, No Extra Software Option, from user ootleman is still on the front page as well.

Today I wanted to take a few minutes to share additional actions we have taken in this area. We've expanded our opt-out offering on XPS products as well as through our Dimension desktops and Inspiron notebooks. This means when you configure a system on, you have the option of choosing "No software pre-installed" for things like productivity software, ISP software and photo and music software. On most XPS systems, the no software options are the default choice. The end result is that customers can tailor the amount and type of software that is preinstalled on their systems to meet their specific needs at time of purchase.

In the future, we'll blog about new offerings for small business customers that will give them more control over software installed on new systems.

So, what software is left? Trial versions of anti-virus software (on Dimension and Inspiron), Acrobat Reader (it’s required to read electronic copies of system documentation), and Google tools. Why do we treat anti-virus apps a little differently? For two reasons: 1) Because a lot of our customers proactively select a subscription to a security service which includes anti-virus and firewall capabilities. 2) Because many of our customers simply expect their PCs to be protected at first boot and beyond.

Customers that don’t want the anti-virus trial software have a couple of options:

  • They can decline the end user license agreement (EULA) at first boot to automatically uninstall. In the future, we are working to have all our software function in a similar manner.
  • They can use the new Dell uninstall application to get rid of it. See the last paragraph before the video for more details.

Regarding Google tools, a quick clarification—Google tools that are pre-installed on Dell systems are a bit different from, and can’t be easily compared. Blog posts like this one express concern about the URL Assistant specifically. The purpose of this utility is to handle a mis-typed URL by responding with a webpage of suggested links that contains both sponsored pages (paid placement) and typical search result links, versus returning an error page with no results or guidance. Some folks prefer the suggested information, some don’t. For folks who are interested, click on the Remove the URL Assistant link in this Knowledge Base article for instructions on how to remove it.

We have also recently launched a software uninstall utility in the U.S. It allows customers to further control and choose what software is on their system. This tool is pre-installed on Dimension and Inspiron systems, and is not available for download because it is tailored to the software on the system. While today this does not remove all Dell-installed software on the system, we will continue to improve its functionality to ensure it meets customers’ needs. Jeremy Friedlander from my team takes you through how it works and more in this vlog.

About the Author: Caroline Dietz Conway