updated 01:20 pm EDT, Wed October 28, 2009
Microsoft Signature PCs arrive at retail
The Windows PCs at Microsoft's first retail stores are deliberately purged of the third-party apps they would normally carry, employees and eyewitnesses have confirmed. Product Advisor Jared Marino explains these systems, regardless of the brand, are considered Signature PCs and won't include any unnecessary third-party software. In exchange, they come preloaded with the normally optional Windows Live Essentials pack as well as extras like Bing 3D Maps, Security Essentials and the Zune client.
Microsoft doesn't say whether the treatment will extend outside of retail, though it did begin selling other companies' PCs through its online store.
The customized software layout is a rare admission by Microsoft that many of its partners may have hurt the Windows brand through an insistence on preloading trial software and other non-essential apps. Although usually justified by vendors as subsidizing the cost of a given PC, both critics and in some cases Microsoft itself have referred to the programs as "craplets" for their tendency to clutter the desktop, pop up unwanted prompts and slow down the system.
Publicly, Microsoft has said it has been working with PC builders to improve the experience since Windows Vista's release and has had limited success. Dell and Sony have had the option of systems or configurations without extra apps, but only Toshiba has promised completely clutter-free PCs.
The process is unofficially but generally acknowledged as an attempt to mirror the approach to Macs, which on Apple's insistence are prevented from coming preinstalled with any third-party app desktop icons, menu bar items or background processes.