How To Make Your PC A Microsoft Signature PC Without Paying $99

Chris Hoffman 30-05-2012

microsoft signature pcWindows PCs are notoriously junk-filled 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 Read More .


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 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? 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 Antivirus Software No matter what computer you're using, you need antivirus protection. Here are the best free antivirus tools you can use. 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 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 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] 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 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.

Related topics: Computer Maintenance, Microsoft, Uninstaller.

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  1. Chin Ma
    June 24, 2016 at 5:16 am

    Dear Sir, I bought a new PC, where can I make it a Microsoft Signature Edition PC? Is Microsoft Store the only place to do it, do they perform this kind of task and charges $99 for that? I don't mind to pay $99. Thank, David M

  2. Anonymous
    September 30, 2015 at 8:35 am

    I feel Microsoft has come up with a great idea for a class product i would love to buy Signature that's gonna keep me safe for future problems !! I would buy it ASAP !!

  3. Someone
    June 5, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    If you bye a mac, though expensive, you save allot by buying one computer that can have 2

    • Chris Hoffman
      August 13, 2012 at 9:54 pm

      I suppose, if you want to run both operating systems...

  4. Someone
    June 5, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    I think that the Mac is great because it has great tech specs and i PACKED with USEFUL stuff and it is great because you can put windows or linux on it too so you can run both using Boot Camp Which is totally free and comes with the mac Just pay for windows and you are good to go

    • Chris Hoffman
      June 8, 2012 at 12:48 am

      Very true. That's becoming a more and more tempting option these days, even for those of us that don't want to run Mac OS X...

  5. Someone
    June 5, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    i think that Microsoft is doing this to earn more money and they should sell computers with the junk on the CD and not preinstalled so that if you want that junk then you just take the cd

    • Chris Hoffman
      June 8, 2012 at 12:48 am

      The tragic thing is that MIcrosoft doesn't sell computers with junk. Their partners do. Yet they still take flack.

  6. Bill_Bored
    June 3, 2012 at 4:59 am

    ...So for $99 bucks M$ will remove "crapware"--does that include Internet Ex-PLODE-r? How about Metro in the upcoming Window$ 8? If so, I'd consider it 99 bucks well spent LOL.

    • Chris Hoffman
      June 3, 2012 at 6:46 am

      Somehow, I doubt it!

      • Bill_Bored
        June 3, 2012 at 11:16 am

        Of course you're correct. ;) I still think it's a $ERIOU$ $$$ making opportunity for Micro$$$oft... :D

        • Chris Hoffman
          June 4, 2012 at 7:58 am

          The sad thing is that I'd probably pay another $99 for a "professional" version of Windows 8 without Metro. And I'm not the only one!

        • Bill_Bored
          June 4, 2012 at 8:31 am

          What you're describing already exists. It's called "Windows 7 Professional"

          No need for 8. :)

        • Chris Hoffman
          June 5, 2012 at 10:26 am


          Windows 8 does have some good optimizations though -- I hear startup is significantly faster.

  7. James Hartwell
    June 1, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    One thing that really bums me out about a new laptop with Windows on it is all the useless stuff that comes on it. I did run into the situation where I was trying to run an OS disk in a HP computer and they made it impossible to even do that.

    • Chris Hoffman
      June 3, 2012 at 3:00 am

      I agree completely. My laptop's default state is just horrible. I don't need 20 icons for useless programs in my system tray! (okay, I'm exaggerating -- but only slightly)

  8. Kelvin Zhang
    June 1, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    I don't see why $99 is necessary. Even home PC users can be able to do this easily.

    • Chris Hoffman
      June 3, 2012 at 2:58 am

      Microsoft should really be trying to help all users instead of cashing in on this, in my opinion.

  9. Nishanth Kl
    June 1, 2012 at 11:07 am

    very clever of ms to charge 99$ for something that should be free

    • Chris Hoffman
      June 3, 2012 at 2:59 am

      Manufacturers make money adding bloat and Microsoft makes money removing it. It's a great racket!

  10. Chris Hoffman
    June 1, 2012 at 3:41 am

    Yup, I linked to that in the post -- I've heard great things!

  11. Benjamin Benekrt
    May 31, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    I don't think anyone should pay $99 to remove bloatware. You can do it yourself easily or if you want a fresh install take it to a local pc shop and it should be around $60. Or like others have said on here, just install a Linux Distro.

    • Chris Hoffman
      June 1, 2012 at 3:41 am

      I suppose that, for a billionaire, it's probably more efficient to pay someone to do it. For most people, you're right.

  12. Shehan Nirmal
    May 31, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    Linux or Fedora is better... but not on the PCs with Windows when you buy it.... I also use a Fedora distro. But I feel that Windows 7 works more FASTER than the fedora....

    • Chris Hoffman
      June 1, 2012 at 3:42 am

      Interesting. Could be down to your hardware -- or video driver issues on Linux, since Fedora's default desktop (GNOME 3) uses fancy compositing effects.

  13. Aaron Booker
    May 31, 2012 at 11:52 am

    +1 for I support about 20 Windows computers occasionally or daily and Ninite has saved me dozens and dozens of hours in the last year, as well as making computers more secure and faster.

    • Chris Hoffman
      June 1, 2012 at 3:41 am

      Ah yes, ninite! I probably should have mentioned that, too -- I've heard a lot of love for it.

    • Bruce Epper
      June 1, 2012 at 1:41 pm

      WSCC (Windows System Control Center) can also install as NiNite plus the SysInternals utilities for those who use them. Free. The also have a download option for a portable version.

  14. Scutterman
    May 31, 2012 at 10:37 am

    Personally, I prefer to get a clean computer by building it myself - saving money - rather than spending extra on it. It's more hassle, but gives you the chance to get exactly the power / resources you want rather than going with a pre-built, pre-spec'd computer.

    • Chris Hoffman
      May 31, 2012 at 1:41 pm

      I agree! I've always built my own desktops. There are some problems there, though -- it's a real pain when your computer starts failing and you have no idea which component it is (CPU? Motherboard? RAM?). I've been there before.

      Sadly, you can't build your own laptops. My laptop feels pretty gross in its factory default state, with all that junk on it. I can definitely see why people buy Macs.

      • Scutterman
        May 31, 2012 at 5:53 pm

        Yeah, it is a shame about laptops. Still, for the sake of $99 I'm happy to spend an hour or so cleaning a new laptop down and creating a disk image.

  15. Luiz Santos
    May 31, 2012 at 6:47 am

    I also recommend "revo uninstaller" on advanced mode to wipe out the rubbish. But as says the article, be careful while uninstalling applications. In my opinion, Revo Uninstaller ( I use the free edition) is one of the best options out there, as it uninstall and gives u the option to wipe away of the left behind files that normally is kept on Windows (which is why I hate this OS).

    • Chris Hoffman
      May 31, 2012 at 1:42 pm

      Thanks for the tip! I keep hearing great things about Revo Uninstaller; I've been meaning to check it out one of these days.

  16. santana
    May 31, 2012 at 5:04 am

    "What do you think of Microsoft’s plans to charge $99 to remove bloatware from PCs?"
    It is like McDonald's running a slimming center and charging us there too!

    • Chris Hoffman
      May 31, 2012 at 1:37 pm

      It does come across as really sleazy. I fully understand the reasons why Microsoft is doing this, and it makes sense -- sure, it's not Microsoft's fault manufacturers bloat things up, technically.

      But the end result is pretty bad. It's like when Microsoft started selling an antivirus product. Luckily, they made that antivirus product free -- they should seriously consider this making a free, downloadable process. Of course, PC manufacturers would probably complain.

  17. Garey Boone
    May 31, 2012 at 3:21 am

    Nice piece of info to pass around.

    • Chris Hoffman
      May 31, 2012 at 1:38 pm

      Thanks for the support!

  18. Truefire_
    May 31, 2012 at 12:54 am

    Hi Chris, this is a pretty good write-up. Personally, I get the OS disks from Microsoft for free from here:

    (this is legal because MS sells OS licenses, not mediums)

    Then, I install a fresh copy of Windows 7, install the drivers, then I go to , and have it download and install for me all of the software you listed above. It's the best and cleanest way to go :D

    • Bruce Epper
      May 31, 2012 at 2:20 am

      It looks like those links are to the old versions (without the -U update) which will not properly install on some machines. If anyone downloads using those links and cannot install on their machine, you can find instructions on how to apply the update to the ISO image here At the bottom of the page are a couple of links to torrents for the ISO files with the update already applied.

      • Chris Hoffman
        May 31, 2012 at 1:39 pm

        Hm, I've never heard of those before -- thanks for the tip. I assume these work with the OEM licenses that come with PCs?

        • Bruce Epper
          June 1, 2012 at 1:34 pm

          I don't have an OEM copy to work with, but the patch process should work properly no matter what version you are using. I can verify that it works with Home, Home Premium, Ultimate and Enterprise. I don't see why it wouldn't work for the rest.

        • Chris Hoffman
          June 3, 2012 at 2:57 am

          I'm just not sure if the installer will take the OEM key -- probably will, I suppose! Very interesting. I'll have to look into this further sometime.

  19. JR
    May 30, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    Better yet, wipe the drive and install a Linux distro like Ubuntu, Mint or Fedora.

    • Ironbalut
      May 30, 2012 at 11:58 pm

      Hey, that's what I was going to say! Linux is the way to go!

      • Corr
        May 31, 2012 at 12:17 am

        Just make sure the hardware is compatible. My HP desktop's integrated audio card doesn't work with Linux.

        • Chris Hoffman
          May 31, 2012 at 1:35 pm

          This is definitely essential. Linux has pretty good hardware support, but every now and then there are issues.

        • dsmile
          June 2, 2012 at 2:46 pm

          install alsabackport it will rock

    • Deekshith Allamaneni
      May 31, 2012 at 5:13 am

      Thats what I did. Using Ubuntu. Ubuntu is much more better than Windows. Windows has become a total crapware... and to remove some of the crap, we again need to pay them for it. What a foolish idea!

      • Josh
        May 31, 2012 at 3:32 pm

        So, as this article was saying, you don't have to actually pay them at all.

      • Anonymous
        October 14, 2012 at 2:48 pm

        Linux totally sucks. And you talk about the removal procedure in Linux, it's merely crap. Software center gets stuck frequently and is impossible for normal users to solve the problem.

    • Mark O'Neill
      May 31, 2012 at 10:28 am

      There's always one commenter who either says "get a Mac!" or "install Linux!". It's only a matter of time. LOL! :-)

      • Chris Hoffman
        May 31, 2012 at 1:44 pm

        It's particularly funny because those don't really qualify as "Microsoft Signature PCs."

        In a parallel universe: "How to Set Up Your New Mac"
        First comment: "Buy a Windows PC instead!!"

        • Chad
          June 1, 2012 at 9:34 pm

          In a parallel universe? Try a different thread on the same website. ;)

        • Chris Hoffman
          June 3, 2012 at 2:53 am

          I suppose! Generally I haven't seen many Microsoft fanboys. That said, with Windows Phone and Windows 8, I am seeing Microsoft fanboys all over the place.

    • epiquestions
      May 31, 2012 at 1:00 pm

      Why does anybody have to preach/push their 'preferred' OS in an article about windows? Majority of the users(personal/business) still use windows for workstations.
      I use windows and have worked with Unix OS. I have never had any issues with windows and I still love to play games on my pc.

      You prefer Linux or Mac? Good for you. Stop wasting your time here. You are not going to change people's minds

    • Chris Hoffman
      May 31, 2012 at 1:34 pm

      Also a good option! But I don't think I can call that a "Microsoft Signature PC."

      And, sadly, there are occasional driver issues. It pays to select a PC that you know supports Linux when buying it.

    • Mihovil Pletikos
      June 1, 2012 at 2:24 am

      sometimes linux just isn't enough.... like for gaming....

      • Chris Hoffman
        June 1, 2012 at 3:43 am

        Yeah, sadly, that's true -- One of the big reasons I still use Windows most of the time is because of games. Steam for Linux, hurry up and save us!

      • OldJoe
        July 1, 2012 at 6:58 pm

        Many Times (always, as far as my clients are concerned) Linux is useless for business purposes.
        Fat Client, anyone?

    • anon
      February 25, 2015 at 4:52 am

      i know the post is old but... linux also comes packed with tons of crapware, the first thing to do after installing linux is removing the preinstalled crap like openoffice, music program, video player and a lot of other shitty stuff they want us to use.