Has MS Finally Gotten Through To DELL?

I complained on Twitter to @MichaelDell that I could not buy a DELL XPS One 27 with “Microsoft Signature”. Today I got tweet from @MaryFadAtDell that read:

The full of her email is below:

Charlie – I wanted to get back to you on your concerns about
purchasing the XPS One 27 on dell.com vs. at a Microsoft
store. With the introduction of Windows 8, particularly on
our XPS systems, we have committed to a very clean software
pre-install that does not include any bloatware. I’ve provided
a list of the pre-installed Apps/Tiles below. I hope you’ll
agree that they are not bloatware, but please feel free to
reach out or follow up with me to discuss.

Thanks,

Mary

Dell Preloaded MSFT Apps

• Photo Gallery

• Movie Maker

Dell Preloaded Apps

• Office Trial (30-day)

• Windows 8 Getting Started Tile

• My Dell & Dell Backup & Recovery

• Dell Shop S&P App

• Amazon, Kindle

• Amazon Taskbar App

• Retail Registration

• Cirrus

Dell Hardware Enablement

• Skype for Metro

• CyberLink Media Suite

• NetReady Metro App (digital delivery)

In case you aren’t aware, Microsoft Signature is a program (in the US) where Microsoft selects OEM PCs and resells them with a Windows install that is tuned by Microsoft for optimal performance. Microsoft removes all ‘crap ware’ and ‘bloat ware’ and provides some pretty background images.  They sell these PCs via the Microsoft Store (both online and retail).

At some point some OEMs (I don’t recall which ones; I thought it was DELL, but I think that’s wrong) would sell Microsoft Signature PCs themselves.

A few years ago I vowed to never buy another OEM PC without Signature.

This program was created by Microsoft a few years ago in an effort to demonstrate that PC’s didn’t have to be slow to boot, have dozens of stickers on them, and full of useless software that interfered with the core usability of the PC.

It’s a good move by DELL to support, effectively, Signature on their premium line of PCs (XPS). However, you’ll note, that non-XPS DELL PCs don’t get this treatment.  DELL still makes a bunch of money by pre-installing crap and bloat on most of their PCs.

I have to wonder how much an impact Surface had on this. As you know, the primary goal (IMO) of Surface is to be a “North Star” from Microsoft on how PCs should be built and sold. Is DELL on the right path? We’ll see.

FWIW, we have found the DELL XPS ONE 27 to be a really, really, great machine. It is a 27” touch screen all-in-one computer that sits in our kitchen and is my wife’s primary computer (her new Surface is her secondary).  The screen, at 2650×1440, is gorgeous.  With Windows 8 pre-installed it is very fast with a Core i7 processor and 8GB of RAM. The touchscreen has great responsiveness and can be titled almost horizontal, making it great for situations where you are standing above the device (e.g. on a kitchen counter).  It has a fan, but it is nearly silent.

Like most PCs, even Signature, this machine suffers with needing a slew of updates right away. It took hours to get through all the Windows Update reboots and so forth; including a few times when the PC wedged/hung while trying to access Windows Update.  This continues to be a huge thorn in the side of PCs (and the Mac, by the way, is not immune to this; they require updating out of the box too!). Since being updated it has run flawlessly.

The only real nit we have is the keyboard. For some reason my wife simply cannot type on it without the spacebar not firing. I didn’t have this problem but it drove her nuts so we just used her old keyboard which is a Microsoft Wedge (which she, for some reason loves).

Ironically, I think Windows 8 works even better on a device like this than on the Surface!  This is primarily because Windows 8’s second (or 1st depending on your perspective) personality is not neutered.  That is, the old-school Windows desktop and legacy apps work completely as expected on a full-PC like this whereas on the Surface only a subset of Office (no Outlook) works and interacting with the old UI is difficult with touch.

On a side note related to touch-screen-all-in-one PCs.  I was completely prepared to buy a 27” iMac for my wife, but only if it had a touchscreen.  No way would I buy a $1500-2000 device without a touchscreen these days. Apple has, ironically, missed the boat on this one.

© Charlie Kindel. All Rights Reserved.

11 comments


  1. sirshannon

    Photo gallery? Bloatware. Movie Maker? Bloatware. MS Office is HUGE but useful but… a trial version of Office? Definitely bloatware. Amazon taskbar app? Bloatware. Skype? Bloatware. Cirrus? What is that?

    • I had the same thought, although I would want photo and video apps. But I’d nix the trial version of Office for sure.

      Anything that needs to load at start up or needs a process running all the time, should be highly suspect and discouraged.

  2. When I went to configure one it makes me select Mcaffee. The ultimate in useless AV software. Did you buy your’s from a Microsoft Store or directly through Dell? Did it come with Mcafee or the much better Defender?

  3. I bought the same box and love it (2 days in). I did not need to choose mcafee and it didn’t come with it. it was great to see a clean desktop and so little installed. and what I didn’t want (trial of office, dell backup) were easily uninstalled.

  4. DougH

    These are at least good first steps by Dell. As Charlie correctly points out the future of PC’s really depend on the customer experience. Customers have to love it, and a computer that has a bunch of junk on it isn’t a good experience, not matter how “helpful” the app is. Give me a check box at purchase, let me decide if I want Office Preview, and the other stuff.

  5. Same thought I had. No way I buy something premium and it not have a touchscreen. It makes sense in so many ways you don’t think of when you’re only used to working with a desktop and have to use a keyboard & mouse to perform.

  6. Horace the Grump

    I can’t figure the use case for a touch display on a desktop machine… how do you suppose that would work?

    • it would be a nice to have for my workstation where the screen is just beyond arm reach. But for my wife’s kitchen desk, the screen is ‘right there’. it is very natural to interact with the touchscreen v. the mouse in this situation.

      Oh, and I would never buy an all-in-one for MY workstation. I require (want? :-)) too much flexiibilty in components and upgradabilty. In that case it would be a touch monitor…same thing applies there: If it’s going to be a $400-700 monitor it better be touch. If it’s $200-300, then fine.

  7. Fully agree with you on the touchscreen part. This PC is beautiful and the touch interface feels so natural in a family room/kitchen type of setting. You can tilt it to a very comfortable angle..Well done Dell!

  8. I don’t know. After having my 13″ Retina MBP for 2 days I can’t even look at non-retina screens anymore. Sure, it would be nifty to be able to grease up the screen with my pawprints more than I already do… but it would seem to be such a shame.

    I suppose the finger prints would blur out the pixels a bit more on a non-Retina display… like Cleartype++. :p

  9. I have often bought a new PC and bought an OEM version of windows and the first thing I do is reinstall windows. I have found it faster than un-installing all the bloatware

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