Dear Computer Manufacturers,
Ok, in 1989 my family bought a computer. A Tandy 1000RL. This thing had 512Kb of RAM, an 8 Mhz Processor and a 20 MB Hard Drive. I was stoked! I was going to be able to play F-15 Strike Eagle II and Silent Hunter II from Microprose! We got this baby home and unpacked her, fired it up and I went to loading my games. Two 3.5” floppies for Silent Hunter II and one for F-15 Strike Eagle II.
I went to installing F-15 Strike Eagle II first. The installation went great and I immediately tried to launch the game. Then it happened. Mind you, I knew NOTHING about the hardware of computers at the time. I had developed one GW-BASIC Application with only GOTO statements because I didn’t even know what looping or logic structures were. Here I was about to get one of the worse error messages a gamer could get, “Not enough system memory.”
What the… ?!?!?!!?!
I had no idea what to do. What kind of nonsense was this I thought. I have 512 Kb of memory and this game takes 512 Kb of memory. Well, years later, after being burned out on attempting to fix this (there was no Internet or Google to ask an answer to) I finally found out it was reallocation that needed to be made via a DOS bat file. So around 1992 I actually got it to load. Oddly enough though, it crashed a lot because of memory issues.
A few years later I realized that the memory issues were caused by preinstalled software from the manufacturer, Tandy Computers. Strike 1.
Forward to the mid 90s
The family bought a new family computer from some appliance store. It was a 100Mhz DX4 Processor, with 16 MB of RAM. I could play games, write Pascal, and even send e-mail and browse the web with Netscape (oh wait, was it Mosaic then?). This system was nice. But it dragged slower and slower over a period of months. The memory got more and more laggardly because it was almost all used up by the time the machine booted. Games, had become difficult to load with all sorts of bat files and special load options.
Why? All because of the stupid pre-installed software. Strike 2.
Forward Again to the late 90s
Alright, I shopped and shopped for my next computer. A Pentium 133Mhz with 32 MB of Memory, which I quickly upgraded to 128 MB of Memory. I forget exactly the size of the hard drive. I think it was a 2.5 Gb hard drive. Again, the system came loaded with all sorts of crap preinstalled software. This time though I was having none of this. I was a PC Tech, software guru, and was even starting to program and do network support! There was no way I was going to put up with this nonsense.
I reinstalled the operating system ridding myself of all the preinstalled hell that one usually endures. I went almost a year before reloading the system again! Usually reloads needed to be done every 3-6 months with the preinstalled software, but with a clean install I had gained new freedoms, new productivity!
Fast Forward to today. 2010
Over a decade later. HP, Dell, and a few other manufacturers rule the heap, Gateway 2000 being long gone history to Gateway, which almost seems long gone. However with over a decade of time, manufacturers still load all sorts of preinstalled nonsense on their machines. As if to help people use their computers less efficiently and have them become more frustrated. The insanity continues! Manufacturers just STOP doing this! Nobody needs this crap on the machine!
Some of the biggest culprits are Enterprise Laptops and Desktops. Such as those from HP, Dell, or Lenovo. They load software, that almost every IT Department then must completely remove, get a good install that works appropriately in the environment, and then create an image and put that on every new machine that comes through the door.
In essence, Computer manufacturers are wasting the IT Department’s time, wasting consumers time, and over longer periods just slowly creating ill will as users figure out that so many problems come solely from preinstalled software.
Sure, I understand that some of the ID10T errors and issues are simply resolved by installing some software before the system is sent to a user, but at least give us the option up front and clearly. So manufacturers, if you get your act straightened out – THANKS! If not, I’ve got words I’m not going to print… so just get it straightened out and we’ll all be thankful.
Signed – The Productive Computer Users of the World 🙂