A brand-new Windows computer should be pristine out of the box. After all, you haven’t gummed it up yet with software, right?

Leave that to the computer manufacturers. They’ll gum it up for you with “free” software you don’t want. It goes by names like crapware, bloatware, or shovelware because computer makers shovel bloated digital crap by the barrelful onto new PCs. There’s a reason for that-crapware offsets the price of super-cheap PCs on retail shelves, even if it’s only by pennies.

I’d never had major problems with crapware when buying PCs via mail order. But in retail, it’s a whole other world of crap. For example, a few years ago, my technophobic father, then age 75, got a new PC to replace his dying Windows Vista system, which he mainly used to print pictures. I couldn’t really recommend spending a lot of money to get it fixed. “Just go find an off-the-shelf for under $400, it’ll be fine compared to what he’s got,” I told my mom (aka Dad’s IT person in residence).

Hardware-wise, that Acer Aspire X (Model AXC-605G-UW20) they purchased at Walmart was sufficient. The specs all qualified as an upgrade.

To get that price of $399, however, Acer sold out my parents and wasted hours of my family’s lives to fix it.

Using TeamViewer remote control software, I saw the system was a mess, yet all Mom had done was install the software for Dad’s beloved (yet dying) Kodak printer. The desktop was awash in at least 15 icons for needless, worthless crap. Opening up the Uninstall a Program control panel revealed even more in residence. Mom tried to uninstall the obvious things, but they persisted.

With many of the…

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