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Why I will Never buy a Branded Computer Again

I have been helping my roommate try to re-install the operating system on her moms brand spanking new laptop. Being unafraid of the corporate goons coming down on me with their legal wrath, I can tell you we got it from Toshiba. :crazy:

The problem: Toshiba has installed an extra 40 gigabytes onto their supposedly “clean” operating system. It’s all crap; bloatware (anti-virus, free trials, dvd burning stuff, AOL web browser, *shudders*, music software, “Tame-Your-Poodles-Luscious-Locks” instructional videos.. you name it.) Some companies let you remove this bloatware, they charge you most of the time.. but they at least let you remove it. Toshiba, however, does not…

The Solution: A truly clean reinstallation; nuking all the crap off the system and starting over. Afterall, the actual install of vista minus bloatware is only 17 gigs, not 60.

What set the tone: I study and love all different languages. Speaking in tongues fascinates me. I’m Russian for crying out loud. However, when I call the U.S Tech Support I do not want to hit the wrong button and have them speaking French to me just because I didn’t select “English” from a list of two other choices.

Once they figured out I didn’t speak a lick of French, they put me back in queue.. where I was placed on hold for the better part of the evening. Finally, I was greeted by a man with a lovely Indian accent who’s name was clearly butchered just to make it more pronounceable. Don’t get me wrong- I have no problem with Indian people. However, when your real name is clearly Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, why cater to our American ignorance by re-identifying yourself?

Apu Simpsons Kwik E Mart Saying

Dear Bob tried to help me to the best of his (scripted) ability. He offered me a wealth of (standard) support, running me through the basic tech support script. However, my problem was simple. I had a brand new Toshiba Satellite L305 laptop. I had an assload of bloatware installed and running on it (taking up a good portion of RAM and an extra 50GB of needed hard drive space, on top of the O/S!) I got myself a copy of the Vista x64 DVD (thank you, Pirate Bay), vLite (never install Vista without it), and Automated Backup/Restore (never fear for your OEM installation of Vista again). Together with my quite valid (though OEM) Vista key, I reinstalled the operating system to my own standards, whereupon it hummed along speedily and happily.

With one problem. I had no display drivers.

Oh, Toshiba was quite helpful in providing drivers to me (in general). In fact, the Satellite came with every driver necessary for every possible piece of hardware in the Satellite L300 series, as well as every possible operating system they sold, pre-installed. Some would find this quite helpful. This wouldn’t be half bad if basic drivers for every piece of equipment were available on their site. However, for some reason no Vista driver was available for the Intel Graphics Accelerator 4500M for Vista x64 on their website. So, like any loyal customer, I called technical support. Woohoo!

The conversation can be broken down to:
Me: “Hi, I need a Vista x64 driver for my display adapter.”

Toshiba Zombie: “I’m sorry sir, that driver does not exist.”

Me: “But, in order for it to function properly on the pre-installation it would have to exist.”

Toshiba Zombie: “It doesn’t.”

Me: “But, hardware manufacturers create drivers for the current Windows operating systems and this is how they function properly.”

Toshiba Zombie: “Sorry, one doesn’t exist.”

Me: “Without one, it wouldn’t work.”

Toshiba Zombie:“We don’t have one.”

Me: “Fine. I’ll have to go to Intel then and download it from them, what model do I have installed?”

Toshiba Zombie: “I don’t have that information, you’ll have to call another department tomorrow.”
{critical hit!}

So, looking through the specifications on the site where the computer was purchased, I figured out what adapter was actually installed in my computer. In about 2 minutes, I had found and downloaded the (non-existent, according to my foreign friend) appropriate driver from Intel’s website.

Toshiba, Dell, HP and others (you know who you are).. do us all a favor and stop trying to make money on us by bloating up our machine with tons of resource hogging freebies that you know we don’t want or need.
Thanks.

8 Comments

  1. Phoenix says:

    Yeah, I feel your pain. I’ve been through the same things before I started to build my own. The computers I had the same problems with were Compaqs. The problem is that these computer makers are trying to make it simple to restore a PC. Mainly because they know that most of their users probably shouldn’t be using computers in the first place 😛 . So they make a Restore CD/DVD and then the marketing guys get in there and load it up with bloatware because Software company X is going to pay them $5 buck or whatever for each PC they put it on. I think they could solve the problem by offering to include the OEM CD/DVDs with the new computer.

    I don’t mean to go off on a rant. But why don’t they offer a discount for all the bloatware they put on my computer? I might be willing to put up with it for 500 bucks off 😉

  2. Marvin says:

    Actually the prices we see on most laptops is with the discount granted by all the bloatware.

  3. The Great Excelcior says:

    Actually, Vista is the reason I switched to Ubuntu. It is bloatware/crapware of its own special kind, since in its default configuration you find your hard drive getting filled up for no apparent reason because of Vista’s backups and shadow files. Don’t get me started on the POS “user control” which is the MS was of having the computer control the user instead of the other way around.

    I had to say ‘hasta la Vista, baby’ or trash the laptop. I dumped it and bought a netbook because XP is still available on those, and it was too heavy and bulky to be a bring everywhere machine. My desktop is hefty and dual booted for any photo/video editing and gaming needs, and my netbook is also dual booted, It’s light, easy to carry, and great for browsing on the go at restaurants, work, church, book stores, in the car while my friend drives aimlessly forever…

    Anyway, if she’s not addicted to paying for every piece of software she runs, you might try to get her onto Ubuntu and set up the windows programs she can’t do without under wine? If you’ve been in a field with cattle, you know what they leave in their wake. Simlarly, the Longhorn project gave us Vista. I am not taking a chance that Windows 7 won’t also be problematic despite the beta release’s apparent goodness.

  4. Oberon says:

    Actually, all the bloatware is to justify the price they charge. “Sure it’s a bit more expensive, but look at all the software that’s included! That’s a $$$$ value right there!”

    Having done support for more than one of the above mentioned companies and talked to a lot of people, a surprising number don’t even know what’s installed on their systems when they get them or what most of the stuff even does. 🙂 Many times in the past I’ve advised people to uninstall most of it.

    At least Dell has taken a step in the right direction, listened to the community at large, and started offering machines loaded with Ubuntu. (http://www.dell.com/ubuntu)

  5. Grant says:

    I know this is old, but I just stumbled across it browsing this site.

    A pretty good way of finding out what hardware is actually installed is a lovely Linux tool called LSHW (http://ezix.org/project/wiki/HardwareLiSter). It is available in many Linux distro’s default repositories – it’s also installed on a good many ‘LiveCDs’.

  6. Jeroen says:

    If you ever run into such a problem again, try driver genius BEFORE you remove the OEM install (http://www.driver-soft.com/) I know it says pro edition and that you need to pay but no worries it’s a 30-day trail and that’s enough to backup all the drivers! 😉
    I use it lot’s of times when (re)building OEM installs for customers.

  7. wth says:

    Too funny. I guess I became geeky by accident. I came out of the state pen in 92, knew a little, bought a PackBell haha. Had lotsa problems. Ended up kicking it for hours with techies. They werent as busy back then,”While I got you here..could you tell me..” Things went wrong. I learned how to fix them. BUT Viruses..PET PEEVE. Its mostly just bad housekeeping IMHO. I think that virus companies and bored Bulgarians write these things so they can create a cure. I use OSX most the time. My desktop has Jaunty.(I screwed up windoze installation and got mad, the only thing that I could install was Ubuntu)MBR was messed up. Just as well. Only thing I miss on this Dell XP400 is the webcam wont work no matter what gspca type mess I use. I dont care. Im no fashion plate anyway. Pushing 60 hard. Well just wanted to say hullo. Really enjoyed yer videos. Trying to figure out Gambas right now#$%^

  8. Tristech says:

    I don’t know about you all but Toshiba makes the best laptops (hardware wise). With ATI graphics and AMD processors they are unstoppable, before u ditched ur original system u should have went to ur hard ware profiles in the control panel and wrote down the model numbers to the graphics, sound, etc. because it is easier to go to the website of the company that made the piece of hardware and get the most up-to-date driver. then install the OS of your choice because that laptop/desktop is in a box for months, theres no way it has the latest driver. and build ur own desktops if u know how

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