When you first get your new computer home, assuming that it is reasonably specified, it should almost burst into life. A computer with only Windows installed should see the ‘blue torpedo’ pass maybe three times before releasing the Welcome screen.
The notification area, system tray, the bit by the clock (call it what you will) should have very little in it. In itself, this is not exactly a bad thing, so do not get too paranoid just yet.
A great way to see what is installed on the computer is to open Control Panel, and then negotiate your way to Add/Remove Programs (XP) or Programs and Features (Vista).
Look down the listing. It is generally a good idea to keep anything Microsoft other than the Office 2007 or MS Money trial unless you want to spend $$$$$ getting the full versions.
You may have already met some of the crap like OEM welcome packages, organizers, calendars, AOL etc. If you think that you will not want them, now is the time to uninstall them. A note about the Welcome package.. you should have taken a look at this as it may well contain info on how to use the product recovery facility, how to contact the OEM etc, so do NOT uninstall it before taking a good look.
If you are not into games, or feel that the Windows games are enough of a challenge, uninstall all games in the list. They will be trial versions anyway. When you are done un-installing, scroll through the list to get an idea of what is left. If anything else appears in the listing during the weeks and months to come, you asked for it to be there.
At this point, whatever you have heard about Windows services and processes slowing your computer down is for the most part pure bunkum because it is running well, yes? The majority of these things will not be running because you have yet to install anything which requires some of them, so quit worrying about this aspect.
Now we get to the slow part..
Having cleared out all of the less than useful stuff, you will no doubt set about installing stuff that you do want. The sad part is that you will get stuff which the software authors want you to have too.
The perils of free stuff
For instance, it is not possible to install anything Google without having to accept their other crap. The same applies to all things Apple. The free Foxit 3.0 PDF reader requires that you also get the ‘ASK’ toolbar. Some of these things also set themselves up in ‘start-up’. If you want to see what does this, install the free version of Winpatrol on your computer before anything else. It will warn you every time anything tries to get in there.
My advice is to first accept the crap along with what you want, and then uninstall the crap. If you lose what you want along with it, then so be it. If the software author wants to know why you uninstalled their stuff, tell them exactly why. And if you want to know how the software authors find out that you have uninstalled their crap, remember the movie ‘ET’? Well some of the crap is able to ‘phone home’ and let them know what a meanie you are..
Never feel sorry for software authors who offer free stuff. Some of them hook up with sponsors, and they get paid well for it. In the best cases, they will at least make you aware that you are about to install crap, as per Foxit. In the worst cases, they will not do this, and there is no consumer law which states that they have to tell you about it.
It is this kind of hijacking which will cripple your computer. Add to this scenario the plethora of programs which promise to fix a bunch of computer problems for free, actually create the problems and then demand that you pay good money to them instantly to fix them, and you can see why your computer slows to a crawl. Most if not all will have infiltrated your system just about as far as anything ever could, and if you pay for the ‘crap’, it will just be the topping on what it will cost for a decent technician to sort it all out for you.
Consumer law and why it doesn’t protect you..
There isn’t any consumer law relating to the above, just like there wasn’t when you bought your underspecified computer. Unless the problems will physically or mentally affect the user, consumer law remains conspicuous by it absence. In any case, the laws in your country do not extend to the country of origin of most of the crap, so would be ineffective anyway.
Back to the start(up)..
Not everything that goes into start-up is required, but software authors do not like you to forget them. However, utilities which tell you the temperature outside, the temperature inside your computer case, whether or not you are connected to the Internet, or are ready to warn you of crap trying to get in, these are not bad things even though they will prolong the time that it takes for your system to become usable.
My take on some of this stuff is to accept the performance hit because if a computer isn’t going to be useful in some way, what is the point in having it? If performance is not good with all of the stuff that is useful and that you do want and need, look at increasing the computer hardware resources.. maybe more RAM or a larger hard drive.