How do the PC vendors screw up Windows 8 so badly?!

Windows-8-Charm-Bar-small

Seriously, it must take time and effort to do such a crappy job building the images the big OEM’s are putting on Windows 8 laptops at the moment.  I’ve looked at four now, from Lenovo, Sony and Dell and all have been awful until you go in an undo some of the ridiculous things they install and configure.

I’ve been using Win8 for a long time now, and I really like it.  Sure there’s a learning curve to the new interface, but actually once you get your head around the fact the start menu is now a whole screen there’s a lot to like.  This has left me puzzled as to why people complain about it so much, but after seeing how Win8 computers ship from their factories I’m not surprised!

Unfortunately nearly all the vendors see fit to install all kinds of ‘crapware’ on their computers.  Utilities and programs that no one really needs, but that they’re paid to install in the hope you’ll buy more of them.  With Window 8 computers though there seem to be two things that stand out.

The biggest problem I’ve found are dodgy trackpad drivers.  Something I noticed on both the Lenovo and Sony laptops was that the Charms or Start bars would randomly appear.  It killed the flow of whatever I was doing and confused the crap out of the user experience.  I couldn’t work it out until I realised that some bright spark had decided to configure the same gestures on the trackpad that you get on a touchscreen.

If you’ve not used Win8 on a touchscreen (and you should – it’s great) you can swipe your finger in from the left hand edge of the screen to bring up the start bar, and the right for the Charms.  It works well on tablets, and even on touch enabled laptops you find yourself touching the screen rather than moving the mouse.  On a trackpad however the same gestures just don’t work.  You’re unlikely to accidently swipe your finger over a screen, but you’ll move your finger over the edge of a trackpad all the time when moving the curser around, or scrolling across screens.  Finding the option in the Mouse settings (Settings Charm > Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Mouse) for your trackpad and turning those gestures off makes a world of difference.  All of a sudden the OS doesn’t seem to have a mind of it’s own!

As well as the dodgy trackpad settings, all of the laptops I’ve helped people with have had Antivirus software installed… Now in the past that would have been a good thing, but Windows 8 actually comes with its own AV software – Windows Defender.  The only reason the vendor installs AV on there is because McAfee et al pay them to.  In my experience Defender is much quicker than the 3rd party tools.  Sure there are pro’s and con’s to everything but in my view Defender does a good job and ‘feels’ faster.  Uninstall the others.  You can check Defender is running afterwards by looking in the Action Center (Settings Charm > Control Panel > System and Security > Action Center).

Are all PC’s like this?  A lot are, but Microsoft does have a programme called ‘Signature’ where they provide a clean, crapware free, Windows build for computers.  To my knowledge only  the Microsoft store and Vizio supply them however.  If I was MS I would find give incentives to the OEM’s to drop the crapware and instead install a clean ‘Signature’ install of Windows.  They need to do something before the OEM’s render Windows completely unusable.

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