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microsoft signature pcWindows PCs are notoriously junk-filled Why You Have Too Much Crap on Your Computer & What to Do About It [Opinion] Why You Have Too Much Crap on Your Computer & What to Do About It [Opinion] I am here today to give you a message you don’t often hear on tech blogs - you have too much. Too much software, too many unneeded applications, too much digital clutter. Even if you... Read More out-of-the-box. Buy a Microsoft Signature PC from a Microsoft Store (yes, Microsoft has a handful of stores across the US) and you’ll find it free of the usual junk. Soon, Microsoft will offer to turn any PC into a Microsoft Signature PC with its “Signature Upgrade” service – as long as you pay $99.

A typical PC might come with a pile of additional desktop shortcuts, system tray applications, and other bloatware. Software developers pay computer manufacturers to preload their software, reducing the price of the computer by a few dollars. Microsoft realizes that this makes Windows look bad and their response is Microsoft Signature, a fancy name for PCs without the junk. But there are steps you can take yourself that will save you from paying that $99.

Option 1: Reinstall Windows

If you have a Windows disc – or your computer manufacturer offers a clean, Windows-only restore option – you can reinstall Windows from scratch. All the virtual clutter that came with your computer will be wiped away – as will your personal files, so back up first.

After you reinstall Windows, you can download the appropriate drivers for your computer from your manufacturer’s website. If your computer came with a driver disc, you can use that instead. While you’ll probably need some drivers and perhaps a handful of utilities, you won’t require anywhere near as much junk as you get by default.

microsoft signature pc

Option 2: Uninstall Junk

Unfortunately, many computer manufacturers don’t allow you to perform a Windows-only restore – their restore partitions force you to restore their Windows image, which has all their junk on it.  Your only recourse will be to uninstall the junk How To Remove Unwanted Crapware From Your Brand New Windows 7 System How To Remove Unwanted Crapware From Your Brand New Windows 7 System Read More .

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Fire up the Control Panel and get to uninstalling that virtual clutter. Be smart about what you uninstall – keep the graphics drivers and other important software. But uninstall the trials for applications you’ll never use, useless manufacturer-provided utilities, and all sorts of other junk. If you really need it, you can probably redownload it from the manufacturer’s website.

If you’re not sure about an application, try Googling Get More Out Of Google [INFOGRAPHIC] Get More Out Of Google [INFOGRAPHIC] Google may be the dominant search engine on the web but when it comes to finding something specific, many people have no idea how to look and what to type into that search box. Many... Read More its name and seeing what other users say. Much of the time, other users have written up guides that explain what the applications included with your computer do and whether or not you can uninstall them.

You can also try PC Decrapifier, an application that helps automate this.

microsoft signature computers

Install Additional Software

The Microsoft Signature program doesn’t just remove manufacturer-provided junk. It adds Microsoft’s own software to the PC – different people will have different opinions on whether this software is necessary or just additional junk. These are the applications Microsoft advertises as included, most of which are available for free online:

Microsoft Security Essentials – Unlike the typical antivirus software that comes with a new computer, Microsoft Security Essentials How Reliable Are Default Windows Security Apps? How Reliable Are Default Windows Security Apps? The first computer my family owned ran Windows 95. It had just arrived, and we purchased a computer with it so that we could have easy access to this new-fangled thing called “the Internet.” At... Read More doesn’t bombard you with requests for money; it’s completely free. It runs in the background and does its job without bothering you. If you’d rather use another antivirus application, there are other free antivirus applications The 10 Best Free Anti-Virus Programs The 10 Best Free Anti-Virus Programs You must know by now: you need antivirus protection. Macs, Windows and Linux PCs all need it. You really have no excuse. So grab one of these ten and start protecting your computer! Read More you can download.

Windows Live Essentials – Includes Windows Live Mail, Family Safety, Writer, Mesh, Messenger, Movie Maker, and Photo Gallery. You can select the applications you want What You Get & Don't Get With Windows Live Essentials - & How To Customize What You Get & Don't Get With Windows Live Essentials - & How To Customize In the past, Microsoft has bundled quite a bit of software with Windows to give users the best experience. With Windows 7 however, the company changed tact and moved some useful but non-essential software into... Read More when installing it.

Internet Explorer 9  – Windows 7 will upgrade to Internet Explorer 9 via Windows Update 3 Reasons Why You Should Be Running The Latest Windows Security Patches & Updates 3 Reasons Why You Should Be Running The Latest Windows Security Patches & Updates The code that makes up the Windows operating system contains security loop holes, errors, incompatibilities, or outdated software elements. In short, Windows isn't perfect, we all know that. Security patches and updates fix the vulnerabilities... Read More , anyway.

Microsoft Silverlight – If you watch Netflix Is Netflix The Solution to Video Piracy? [Opinion] Is Netflix The Solution to Video Piracy? [Opinion] Netflix recently launched in the UK - and I wrote up a full and shining review of the service last time. It offers an affordable way to get high quality on-demand movies and TV straight... Read More , you’ll probably want this. Otherwise, you probably won’t.

Adobe Acrobat Reader & Flash Player – Lots of PCs include these already. You can download both from Adobe’s website – make sure to update them if they’re already installed!

Office Starter – You can’t actually download and install Office Starter yourself. But you probably wouldn’t want to, anyway – Office Starter includes only Word and Excel, and each program contains advertisements that bother you while you try to work. Instead, you can install a 60-day trial of the full Microsoft Office suite, install a free desktop Office suite LibreOffice - A Free Office Suite For Windows, Linux & Mac LibreOffice - A Free Office Suite For Windows, Linux & Mac Read More , or use a cloud-based solution like Google Docs. Or you can buy Office and install it – Microsoft even sells digital copies of Office online.

Signature Theme Pack – The Signature theme pack uses a subset of Bing’s images – you can always install the Bing dynamic theme or another theme from the Windows theme gallery.

microsoft signature pc

If you’ve followed this guide, you now have a pretty close approximation of the Microsoft Signature PC experience. You don’t get free support for the first 90 days, but all you need is a search engine to provide your own support.

What do you think of Microsoft’s plans to charge $99 to remove bloatware from PCs? Leave a comment and let us know.

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