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Cursed Crapware

Mar 12, 2008
"Dear Computer Manufacturer: This has been a long time in coming, but we need to talk. There is no easy way to say this, but I think it would be best if we see other people. I didn't mean for this to happen, but it just did. It's not you, it's me.

I know you mean well, but gosh, how many times have I asked you not to clutter up my new system with software that I'll never use? When I call upon you for help, you tell me that my call is very important, but your actions tell me that you don't care and don't respect me. With each new system I purchase comes even more software -- crapware, if I may -- and it all makes me feel so cheap and so used. I've begged you, "Please, no more AOL," but you ignore me. Then, when I was most vulnerable, you thrust Microsoft Works upon me. Does your cruelty know no bounds?

You probably think of me as just another overwrought, ditzy user, but I have feelings, too. It's my computer, so it should be my decision what programs to install. I'm not trying to hurt you; I just want to limit my exposure to perpetual nag screens, phantom registrations, pop-up ads, spam, potential conflicts, and a startup folder that launches everything but the Space Shuttle when I boot up.

I'll always remember the good times we shared, and it's in that spirit that I offer this suggestion: Rather than force-feeding programs to every purchaser, why not provide a list of applications you usually install, and let the purchaser check off the ones that he or she wants installed? I know it's a novel concept, but given a chance, I think freedom of choice could catch on.

When I called to break this news to you, you asked if I was seeing somebody else. I was hoping you wouldn't ask, but the answer is yes. I'm seeing a local computer builder in my hometown. He makes me happy in ways that you could not. Because he depends on his local reputation, he is very responsive to my needs, his pricing is competitive, and his friendly, helpful service is always close at hand. He makes me feel special, and in turn, I feel good about supporting a local merchant and keeping my hard-earned dollars right here in my community.

As long as we're sharing our feelings, would it be too much to ask for you to include the original Windows installation DVD with all new computers? That's a "must-have" in the likely event a system file, a component, or even Windows itself needs to be reinstalled. But whenever I asked, I've been told that a restorable operating system is loaded onto a section of my hard drive for my computing safety and my emotional well-being. While I am profoundly moved by your concern, may I ask what I'm supposed to do if the hard drive crashes, taking the ability to restore the operating system with it? I know, I know, you've told me this before: I should call your tech support number. I mean no disrespect, but have you ever called that number yourself?

It's not that I didn't enjoy calling your 800 number when we were together, because I really did. To tell you the truth, I became quite fond of the refreshing naps I was able to take while waiting for the next available representative. Please say goodbye to my friends "Jason" and "Heather" in Bangalore. I couldn't understand them most of the time, but they were nice people. And tell them that I appreciated their consistency, for no matter what problem I was experiencing, their sage advice was always the same, "You'll need to reformat your hard drive." Good times, indeed.

Farewell, old friend; I'll think of you often, but not for long.

Warm regards,
Mr. Modem"
About the Author
Mr. Modem (MrModem.com) is an author, syndicated columnist, radio host, and publisher of the wildly popular, always entertaining, Pulitzer-lacking weekly "Ask Mr. Modem" computer-help newsletter. Mr. Modem's columns appear in more than 300 publications and each month in "Smart Computing" magazine. Visit MrModem.com for additional information, to view a sample issue, or to subscribe.
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