Dell Inc. Tuesday unveiled a new line of desktop and laptop computers for the small business market that will ship without "trialware," the free and limited-use software bundled with new systems that some users hate for hogging storage space.
If buyers so choose, the new Vostro PCs -- four laptop and two desktop models -- will ship sans trialware, the polite term for what many have dubbed "crapware" or "bloatware." These preinstalled applications, search settings, trial editions of commercial software and icons to various technology services clutter a new Windows PC's hard drive and -- desktop users argue -- only benefit the computer maker, which is paid a commission when customers upgrade to the software's full version.
"Customers really hated trialware," said Michael Dell, the company's CEO, during the Vostro rollout in New York. "It was the most frustrating thing for customers in setting up a new computer," he added, citing a recent survey the company commissioned of small business users. "Our new Vostro line comes with no trialware, none at all."
The move isn't totally new for Dell, however. Last month, it gave customers the option to refuse trialware on some systems, including the popular Dimension -- now known as Inspiron -- and higher-end XPS desktop machines. Dell decided to offer the choice after thousands had lobbied for a no-trialware option on the vendor's IdeaStorm site.
But the June decision left some bloatware on new Dells: trial versions of antivirus software, Acrobat Reader and Google Toolbar.
Customers configuring Vostro systems, however, can decline antivirus software, Acrobat Reader and the bundled Microsoft Works suite. There was no option on the sales site, however, that specifically let users bar Google Toolbar's factory installation.
Users can choose to equip the Vostro systems with either Windows XP or Windows Vista. Dell previously offered only Vista, but in April -- again in the face of lobbying from customers on IdeaStorm -- the company relented, and again offered Windows XP as an operating system choice, first to small business users, and nearly three weeks later to consumers.