The Windows 8 consumer preview is utterly delightful. But I have a huge suspicion that by the time it ships, it could completely suck. And that's because the people who make the machines on which it is installed will fuck it right up with a bunch of crap.
When you buy a new computer, before it arrives in your hands, the manufacturer installs Windows on it. And when they do, they often install a bunch of other useless programs as well, because the software vendors pay them to. It helps bring prices down, and you can think of them as sort of being like ads subsidizing your hardware. The thing is, they also tend to seriously degrade performance.
I'd been using a Windows 8 test rig provided by Microsoft for several days, and it was great. But I was curious how the experience would translate to my personal machine. So I installed it on my little HP Pavilion notebook. Sure enough, I loved it there too.
But it hit me that one of the things I'm loving so much is that neither of these builds is cluttered up with a horrible bunch of junk that's only there because some jerk in Palo Alto did a deal with Symantec or Roxio or some dumb fucking game that nobody would ever willingly install on a machine. It means my older, cheap little notebook actually runs better on a new operating system—because it doesn't have a million unnecessary things going on in the background. One of my last glimpses of Windows 7 on the Pavillion was this banner popping up to remind me that without The Nortons, I'm going to be eaten by Sasquatches or something:
It was a fitting goodbye.
I don't want to just single out HP. Basically every major OEM clutters up Windows with garbage crapware. At CES this year, one of the things Vizio was touting about its all-in-ones and ultrabooks was that they'd come with "clean" builds of Windows. Think about that: Vizio is using what it doesn't include as a selling point. Dell has done the same thing in the past. And at one point, Sony was even trying to charge an extra $50 to not install a bunch of horrible crap all over your nice new computer.