I had the 'honor' of rescuing yet another victim of a pre-installed software nightmare. A new co-worker was working with his notebook (a Hewlett-Packard, recent vintage, less than a year old with Vista Home Basic installed).
The complaint? Minimum five (yes, FIVE) minute boot time from power-on to desktop interaction.
After a cursory examination, I found that it wasn't a hardware problem, nor was it due to memory limitations: the system had 512MB RAM, Vista was using just over 300MB with no other applications running (yes, that's a lot, but this is Vista, after all).
After firing up Sysinternals.com Autoruns, finding and removing the usual suspects: Symantec Internet Security (by far the worst of the resource hogs), QuickTime, RealPlayer, Google Desktop/Google Toolbar, Yahoo Toolbar, and the oh-so-necessary Java Updater and Acrobat QuickStart tasks (all of them were installed at the 'factory' in order to provide a 'richer, more secure experience') and rebooting, the computer now boots and brings up the Windws Vista desktop in about 30 seconds - still too long for my taste, but we didn't spend any time defragging hard disks, or looking for other bloated garbage.
The irony of this was that the user, as usual, had no idea why all this extra software was on his machine; he stated bluntly that he never used any of the software: not the toolbars, not Google Desktop, not QuickTime, not RealPlayer, and certainly not the Symantec Internet Security suite - he hadn't ever enabled it - it was still nagging him to configure it to begin 'protecting' his machine.
The result? The user could not believe the improvement! Before the tune-up, he thought he was going to need to buy a new computer because he was convinced that this problem was incurable. Yes, it's unfortunate that the user didn't know what to uninstall, or how simply he could have fixed this problem - but the real problem is: why is the user put in this position in the first place?
What the heck is wrong with the computer vendors? Are they being bribed to put all this garbage on every computer they sell? I have to believe that they are, they must be - what other explanation can there be?