What makes companies think it's OK to install extra crap you didn't ask for by default? There are numerous examples of this, from store-bought laptops that are preloaded with bloatware to toolbars that come included with your chosen browser. Even the most trusted sources and manufacturers have become involved with this crapware epidemic.
"Security" companies seem to to be most notorious offenders of all, constantly trying to weasel their way onto your PC when you don't want them to. Once they've invaded your registry and (previously) clean startup procedure so that they're nigh impossible to remove they begin their main task - pummelling you with notifications and subscription requests.
It's not limited to Microsoft (probably one of the worst facilitators of this) either; ATI, Adobe, Asus and Gigabyte are all guilty parties too and that's just off the top of my head. I'm sure many of you will fill me in with your experiences too, so go ahead - name and shame them!
Below, I've listed some of the worst and most annoying examples of bloatware and their carriers that I've found in the past few weeks.
Adobe: Free McAfee Security Scan
Adobe claims that the Security Scan that comes bundled with their Flash Player is optional, but I don't see how it can be if the option is enabled it by default. I only came to update Flash Player in my browser yet you are trying to palm off some McAfee crap? Are the two companies actually linked or is McAfee trying to warn me that Flash Player breeds insecure content and I should be wary of Adobes offering?
Microsoft: Messenger Live
Not only do you just have to download Messenger these days, you also get about a dozen other applications that are also set to download by default with it. The install swells to being more than 100MB more than it actually needs to be. That's not to mention that the latest Messenger looks like it was crafted by a three year old with a Crayola, but that's besides the point.
ATI: Free World of Warcraft trial / Folding@Home
As if World of Warcraft was prevalent enough, they've now started bundling a free trial with the latest Catalyst drivers. Now, I deliberately don't go down to the seedier parts of London in search of crack, and for the same reason I wouldn't fancy touching WoW with a barge pole, yet ATI seems to think better of me and gets into bed with Blizzard claiming, "don't worry, the first one's free" every time I updated my Catalyst drivers. ARGH!
Actually, having just double-checked, it seems like this particular deal has ended, which is a good thing even though I'm still visibly bitter about the whole thing. ATI has at least redeemed itself partially by installing Folding@Home by default. Where it fails is not setting team 35947 by default.
Asus: Symmantec Software
Select "automatic driver installation" on any new Asus driver DVD and the FIRST install it makes is Symmantec software. The install ca be disabled, but it needs specific clicks of investigation and Asus has gone out of the way to make it more difficult.
Essentially, before you've even got a PC up an running you're filling it with crapware that slows your boot time. Naughty, naughty Asus. And you wonder why you've not won a single award this year?
Gigabyte's sin is slightly more obvious than Asus' driver install DVD so it's easier to unselect and it's only a default search engine in Internet Explorer anyway, which eventually should get removed no matter what. However, the notion is the same: I've paid for your product and I'm there to install essential system DRIVERS - not start filling my PC with unwanted, useless rubbish, thank you.
The Good Guys?
It's not often I defend Apple, however I do believe it's worth acknowledging that the company did successfully back down after the uproar of selecting Safari as an "auto-update" install when people installed the more useful Quicktime and iTunes. It's still there, nagging me each time Apple drops an update, however at least it's disabled by default. Well done.
Who are your worst offenders? Please, name and shame so we can put an end to this extra "ticked by default" epidemic. Drop your thoughts in the comments thread.