As I alluded to a couple of weeks ago, I just recently purchased a new laptop. One of the unique things about this laptop is that it was purchased from the Microsoft Store, which means that it is part of something known as Microsoft Signature. Normally, when you buy a Windows laptop, it’s loaded with crap. I’m not exactly sure why PC manufacturers feel the need to load their products with crap. But they do. I think it has something to do with software makers paying PC manufacturers to include demo versions of their crappy software. Or maybe PC makers just hate their customers. Either way, anybody who has ever bought a Windows PC knows exactly what I’m talking about.
Fortunately, Microsoft has come to realize that PC makers selling PCs loaded with crap makes Windows look bad. All of that crapware and bloatware slows down the PC and makes getting a new PC a much less pleasant experience then it should be. So that’s why Microsoft created Microsoft Signature. Basically, Microsoft takes PCs made by other companies, like Dell, HP, Acer, etc. Then they take all of the crap off, and add applications that are actually useful, such as Microsoft Security Essentials, which is Microsoft’s free anti-virus software.
As soon as I heard of this service, I realized that I would be a fool to ever buy a PC from any other retailer. Things that make no sense make me anrgy, and crapware makes no sense. Why would a PC manufacturer deliberately add software that is useless and slows down the computer? Basically, they are purposefully making their product worse than it could be, and that’s just stupid. And even though I probably know quite a bit more about PCs than the average person, I still find that crapware is hard to get rid of, because there are a lot of programs that seem to fit into a gray area. My wife and I just recently bought a new Gateway desktop (right before I heard about Microsoft Signature, of course), and I removed as much crapware as I could, but there are definitely several programs on that PC that might be crapware, but they might also be necessary. I just don’t know.
But thanks to the Microsoft Store, my new Acer laptop does not have the same problem. Booting up this laptop for the first time was refreshing. Just a few quick setup questions, and then I was free to do whatever I wanted to do. The desktop was (and still is, in fact) completely empty, except for the Recycle Bin. Clicking on the Start menu revealed a number of different programs (more than I expected actually), all useful. No 60-day trials of Norton Antivirus or superfluous DVD burning software here.
Performance has definitely benefited from the lack of crap. Despite somewhat middling specs, this laptop is plenty snappy. One of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to computing is when I click on something and then have to wait a few seconds for anything to happen. That definitely hasn’t been a problem with this laptop. I can’t say that it is blazing fast or anything like that. But it’s fast enough for everything I want to do with a computer, which is definitely nice.
Obviously I’ve added various apps to this computer since I got it. I had to download iTunes so that I could sync my iPod Touch. I also downloaded Internet Explorer 9 (Microsoft Signature PCs come with IE8, since IE9 is technically still in beta.) In addition, I downloaded all of the other major browsers (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Opera) because I’m a nerd and I like to use a lot of different browsers. But it’s a lot easier to add new apps to a computer than it is to remove unwanted apps.
So, some of you are probably wondering about my title. Anyone who knows anything about computers knows that Microsoft has nothing to do with the MacBook. For those of you who may not know, MacBooks are laptops made by Apple. MacBooks are known for their quality of construction and design, as well as for their clean interface and simplicity of use. None of these things are generally thought of in association with Windows.
My point is that Microsoft Signature is Microsoft’s attempt to give computers running Windows that same clean feel and sense of simplicity that MacBooks have. Since these computers are still made by other companies such as Dell and Acer, there is no difference in terms of hardware between a Microsoft Signature laptop and one that you’d find at Best Buy. (Disclaimer: I have absolutely no complaints about the hardware quality of my laptop. That said, it’s definitely not as nice as a MacBook.) But in terms of software, I would argue that Microsoft has definitely succeeded in their goal of making Windows 7 as clean and simple to use as Mac OS X.
Microsoft Signature, simply put, is Windows done right. After using this laptop for a week, I think I can safely say that the biggest problem with Windows is the PC makers that feel the need to cram their PCs full of crap. This crap is of no benefit to anyone, except for the PC makers who profit from the subsidies that crapware makers pay them. I, for one, have no interest in ever promoting this sort of behavior again. I’m totally sold on Microsoft Signature.
At the risk of sounding like an advertisement for Microsoft, I wholeheartedly recommend buying a laptop from the Microsoft Store. This is the first time I’ve owned a computer that feels like it’s mine. When I look over the list of programs installed on my laptop, I know what each one is and I know why it’s there. It really is a wonderful feeling. The next time you need to buy a new computer, I strongly urge you to consider buying it from the Microsoft Store. It’s the best way to get Apple-like quality without paying an Apple-like price.