Craplets are creeping into personal computing. Craplets are those programs installed on your computer by the manufacturer that you probably never use.
Those programs sit on a computer's hard drive occupying gigabytes of space that are better devoted to that novel you haven't finished, the vacation pictures of your first grandchild or that vacation in Yosemite when you were hiding from the last hurricane.
Craplets have been around for years. I didn't realize they had a name until today until I read the Loose Wire blog by Jeremy Wagstaff, a reporter at the Wall Street Journal. He explains his thoughts in Vista: Preloaded With Gunk.
Wagstaff won't take credit for the term. It came over the transom from Walt Mossberg, also of the Wall Street Journal. Mossberg says:
I have set up many computers over the years, so I wasn't shocked that the out-of-box experience was less than ideal. Still, I was struck by just how irritating it was to get going with the new Sony Vaio SZ laptop I bought about 10 days ago. It was the first new Windows machine I'd bought in a few years, because I had been waiting for Microsoft's new Windows Vista operating system. I was amazed that the initial experience is still a big hassle.
I agree. However, I have learned that it is possible to avoid the craplets installed by the manufacturers.
Now that I have your attention, here is how to do it:
- Obtain a written quote for your new toy. Most manufacturers will gladly email it. If you are getting it via an employee purchase program, most company human resources departments require a written quote.
- Read through the quote line-by-line. Ask for an explanation of each item. Tell them to remove anything you don't want. Your mileage may vary from company to company. If the rep complains, just suggest that you've decided not to make the purchase. See how fast those items come off the quote.
I discovered the craplets buried in a line of the quote described "free AOL and Internet access." I explained to the rep that I worked for an Internet provider and I wasn't allowed to have it on my computer.
Your mileage may also vary if you are speaking to a rep via the Bangalore hot line.
Mossberg makes a point here:
The problem is a lack of respect for the consumer. The manufacturers don't act as if the computer belongs to you. They act as if it is a billboard for restricted trial versions of software and ads for Web sites and services that they can sell to third-party companies who want you to buy these products.
I can make the same point about computer EULAs.
Now if the computer makers want to pay me for storing their craplets instead the manufacturer, they can contact me by e-mail. I'll tell them where to send the check.
Boys, we'll be on easy street when those checks start rolling in.