Microsoft is now pushing PC's that not only come with Windows 7, but come with a "cleaner" version of the operating system that is free of "crapware." Software, such as DVD playback programs, customer help icons, and trial games, is often installed by computer retailers or manufacturers onto the computers they sell. This software is often referred to as "crapware." A Microsoft Signature computer is one that comes with no software installed by manufacturers, and on which Windows 7 has been tweaked by Microsoft to function best on the computer's hardware.
In addition to selling Microsoft Signature certified computers in the online Microsoft Store (including computers from manufacturers such as Dell and HP), Microsoft has also set up a program to help Windows 7 users convert their current computers to a Microsoft Signature set-up. Computer owners can bring their devices into one of the few physical Microsoft Stores around the U.S. and have it Microsoft Signature-certified for $99.
Walt Mossberg over at The Wall Street Journal ran some tests with several different computer manufacturer's computers and compared the speed and reliability of Microsoft Signature computers with those that were loaded with crapware. Not surprisingly, he found that Microsoft Signature computers were faster to start, wake up, and shut down, but only by margins of a few seconds. Note, though, that all of these comparison computers came straight from Microsoft.
If you are looking for a clean Windows 7 install, Microsoft Signature isn't exactly that. Signature comes with a plethora of Microsoft products installed, including some that could be considered crapware in their own right. Windows Media Center, Internet Explorer 9, and the Zune Marketplace all come pre-installed on a Signature PC. The Journal story states, however, that Microsoft Stores will help users uninstall or install any software, at their request.
All of this seems silly when you consider that users can simply take an afternoon and re-install a fresh version of Windows 7 from the disc that they have already purchased. And, if the manufacturer of their computer did not provide a copy of their operating system, the price of an OEM copy of Windows 7 Home Premium is almost exactly the same as a Microsoft Signature in-store wipe. Still, I suppose that if you have more money than time, Microsoft Signature might just be the perfect way to get BonzaiBUDDY and all of those toolbars off of your mother's computer.
(via The Wall Street Journal)