The champion of streamlined PCs, uncluttered with so-called "crapware," is... Microsoft? Microsoft has begun selling a line of "optimized" PCs online as well as at its 16 retail stores. These "Signature" branded PCs retain the same OEM branding as those sold in other retails stores, such as Best Buy, but without the trialware and other promotional materials that normally accompany retail PCs. Microsoft has yet to say when the scheme will be rolled out to other countries.
Microsoft has also launched a $99 (around £60) service that will allow users with Windows 7 PCs (and possibly Windows 8), purchased elsewhere, to bring them in to a Microsoft Store and tune them to "Signature" standards, Wall Street Journal columnist Walt Mossberg disclosed.
The reduction in the number of programs installed on a PC should make the PC faster and easier to use, Microsoft says on its http://signature.microsoft.com/ Signature website. Microsoft claims that Signature PCs will sleep 21 percent faster, start up almost 40 percent faster, and resume about 51 percent faster than an unoptimized, otherwise identical PC. In one initial setup of a Signature PC, Microsoft found it took 4 minutes, 47 seconds to set up, while the unoptimized PC required over 18 minutes.
"PCs with Microsoft Signature are designed to be lightning fast from the moment you turn it on the very first time," Microsoft said. "Many computers require significant configuration to get them to work the way you want, but with a PC and Microsoft Signature, you won't spend hours configuring it. It comes ready to go and as a result, it will help save you time - and lots of it."
Naturally, Microsoft favors its own software. Each Signature PC includes Windows 7, Windows Live Essentials, Zune software, the Internet Explorer browser with Bing optimizations, and Microsoft Security Essentials, Microsoft's own free firewall and antivirus program. In addition, users will receive free phone support for 90 days, Microsoft said.
Microsoft doesn't appear to favor any one brand or OEM: its store includes highlighted Signature offerings including the HP Folio 13-1051nr, the Dell XPS 15z, and the Samsung Series 7 NP7000Z3a notebook. Signature desktops include the Sony Vaio L series, and the Samsung Seris All-in-One. Microsoft also offers tablets and peripherals, but without the Signature branding.
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