Lenovo announced today that it’s committed to cutting down on the crapware pre-installed on the computers that it sells.
“We are starting immediately, and by the time we launch our Windows 10 products, our standard image will only include the operating system and related software, software required to make hardware work well (for example, when we include unique hardware in our devices, like a 3D camera), security software and Lenovo applications,” the company said in a statement. “This should eliminate what our industry calls ‘adware’ and ‘bloatware.’ For some countries, certain applications customarily expected by users will also be included.”
Lenovo’s statement doesn’t mean an end to all pre-installed software on its computers (for example, it looks like users will still get some form of antivirus software pre-installed, whether they want it or not) but it’s a step away from shipping a device with a mountain of crapware. It sounds similar to devices that are a part of the Microsoft Signature program – devices sold through the Microsoft Store that come with a clean version of windows and no pre-installed software.
The new commitment comes a week after security researchers raised the alarm about Superfish, a piece of software that came installed on a number of Lenovo consumer laptop products sold from September through December of last year. Superfish used a self-signed root SSL certificate in order to inject advertisements into website that users visited, even if they were using a secure connection.
That would allow attackers to perform a man-in-the-middle attack against an affected machine and potentially capture sensitive data while users still believed that it was secure. To fix the problem, Lenovo has released a removal tool that will take care of both the Superfish software and the certificate that it installed, and Microsoft has updated Windows Defender to remove the software and certificate as well.
It’s not clear yet what the commitment to clean PCs will mean for the price of Lenovo’s products. Computer manufacturers pre-install software in part because it provides them an additional stream of revenue from companies that pay to have their software shoved in front of consumers when they turn on their new device for the first time.
Because the consumer PC market relies on thin profit margins, it’s difficult to see how Lenovo plans to continue selling laptops at the same prices it is today without some other revenue stream.