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From: d:oug11/29/2011 10:46:49 PM
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How to: Stress test your new PC to shake out any faults (Page 1 of 8)

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From: d:oug11/29/2011 10:59:22 PM
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Microsoft sells PCs through the Microsoft Store, both online and in 14 retail outlets in the United States.

Microsoft Signature retail outlets

Those machines are configured with a custom Windows installation that the company calls Microsoft Signature.

The rules are stringent:

- No trialware, and no unnecessary startup programs.
- The desktop is clean, with no gadgets, no icons (except for the Recycle Bin), and no unnecessary system try icons.
- Microsoft’s free antivirus software is installed and activated, and Windows Update is configured to install updates automatically.
- The Microsoft Signature theme pack, with images drawn from the same pool as those used on Bing, is installed and set as the default background.
- Windows Live Essentials, Office 2010 Starter Edition (not a trialware product), and Zune software are installed and all activations are performed.
- No added mouse/keyboard navigation systems are allowed beyond the Windows Start menu and taskbar.
- In addition, the installations are up-to-date, with the latest service packs and updates applied.
- The final product includes 90 days of free support from Microsoft.

By Ed Bott (ZDNet)
November 21, 2011

It’s easy for an OEM to screw up a new Windows PC.

Just add enough trialware and throw in a few unnecessary programs, and the customer gets a miserable out-of-box experience.

Microsoft is trying to fix that with its Signature PC initiative.

Building a Windows PC is a cooperative process. PC makers design and build the hardware, Microsoft designs and builds the OS, and then third-party software developers join the party. If everything works together, the end result can be a joy to use. But if any part of the partnership breaks down, the poor PC buyer is the one who suffers.

Making PCs is a tough business, with low profit margins and cutthroat competition. To squeeze a few extra bucks out of every PC they sell, some OEMs cut deals to make extra money by preinstalling trial versions of software. If they can convince you to pay for an upgrade to the full version, they make a commission. But those upsell offers (also known as crapware) are annoying, and in the worst case they can slow a PC noticeably.

On top of that, some OEMs feel compelled to “add value” to their hardware by bundling software programs and utilities that duplicate functions already available in Windows. And they can get downright sloppy about the things that really do matter, like updates and drivers.

Over the last decade I have written a lot about this problem. In 2006, I asked Why do new PCs come with so much junkware? In the darkest days of Windows Vista, in early 2008, I found a Sony VAIO PC that represented a truly awful PC experience:

This gorgeous machine was ugly in action: slow to start, sluggish when performing everyday tasks, crash-prone, and overloaded with annoying and unwanted software. But is it really a hopeless case, or was this system done in by the rush to market and a sloppy OEM integration?

In an interview at the time, a Sony senior executive candidly admitted that the problem was all theirs, calling his company’s PCs “the poster child for negative experiences people had [with trialware].”

I was able to fix that PC with a clean install and hours of fine-tuning. But that approach doesn’t scale and should never have been necessary.

Now, three years later, I’m curious. Have OEMs cleaned up their act? Are today’s Windows PCs still a mess or do consumers have a fighting chance?

Fortunately, I found a nearly perfect sample set that also included its own control group.

Microsoft sells PCs through the Microsoft Store.

The goal is to make the experience of using a PC better—not just on unboxing day but for the life of the PC.

So, two months ago, I picked up three pairs of new consumer notebooks, one pair each from HP, Samsung, and Sony. In each case, the hardware was identical but the installed software was different, with one model containing the OEM’s standard consumer installation and the other built to Microsoft Signature specs. The differences were eye-opening.

Here, for example, is the out-of-box desktop experience Samsung delivered to customers in 2011. And yes, this PC has trialware offers from both Norton and McAfee.

Here’s the same experience, delivered via Microsoft Signature:

I’ll have full details about all three pairs of PCs in a follow-up post next week, but here are some high-level conclusions:

Whatever joy you might feel on unboxing a new PC evaporates quickly if you have to spend hours setting it up. The out-of-box experience with a Signature PC is strikingly better.

PC OEMs have cut back on trialware, but they haven’t broken the habit. The upsell nags for antivirus software are particularly annoying on OEM PCs.

OEMs continue to insist on superfluous control panels, toolbars, and desktop docks that do nothing for usability.

Extra software causes usability headaches for even simple tasks, like playing a DVD or downloading pictures.

The Signature PCs are faster to start up, by an average of 10-15 seconds, but the differences in usability are even more important.

The problem with Microsoft Signature right now is a matter of scale. With only 14 physical stores, the company can reach only a fraction of PC buyers directly, and most people have no idea that the online store sells roughly 60 name-brand notebook and desktop PCs (plus a few tablets) all configured using Microsoft Signature.

Would I recommend a Microsoft Signature PC? For someone who doesn’t have the time or the technical skills to do a clean Windows install, absolutely. Removing all that trialware and simplifying the experience makes a PC faster and easier to use.

Back in 2009, when Microsoft opened its retail store in Scottsdale, Arizona, I visited the store with a friend, who purchased a Dell notebook running Windows 7. That machine was one of the first delivered under the Microsoft Signature program, and it has been problem-free ever since. When they replace that PC in a year or two, I have no doubt they’ll go back to the same store.

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To: d:oug who wrote (77363)11/30/2011 12:03:07 AM
From: SI Ron (Soup Nazi)
2 Recommendations   of 100784
Thats cool about the QR Codes:

You can scan them online here:

The one in the article (above) says:

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To: Ian@SI who wrote (77355)11/30/2011 9:10:04 AM
From: Ken Adams
2 Recommendations   of 100784
Do you give your keyboard a "bath" occasionally? Mine gets covered in dust and oil from my hands. I carefully give it a bath with dish soap and warm water and a sponge. Hold upside down (keys on the bottom) and get the sponge good and wet and soapy, scrub keys and in between, letting all of it drip back into the sink. Rinse with clean water the same way, shake all loose water and give it a few minutes with a hair dryer. I've been doing this with my boards for years and it keeps them healthy.

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From: D.Lu11/30/2011 10:03:40 AM
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Problem with audio. When I plug in a headset to listen, the computer will not revert to the speakers again when I pull the plug out, unless I turn completely shut down the computer. Would like to be able to reset to listening through the speakers without having to shut down. Running Windows XP and MSExp 7. Thanks in advance.

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To: Ian@SI who wrote (77355)11/30/2011 11:51:57 AM
From: jERRY Ö¿Ö
1 Recommendation   of 100784
If it's a wireless keyboard the batteries may be low. Try changing them.

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To: Ian@SI who wrote (77355)11/30/2011 12:00:32 PM
From: Bicycle
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Keyboard washing. . .

Bye4Now, FD.

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To: Bicycle who wrote (77370)11/30/2011 12:08:41 PM
From: Ken Adams
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I can attest with absolute certainty that is far more extreme than necessary. I've been cleaning my keyboards in the manner I mentioned earlier for years. I've only ruined one in all that time. That was because, uncertain that it might not be dry, I set it out on my deck in the sun for about an hour. That, also, was an unnecessary step.

Shake the loose water from the board, dry it as best you can with a hand towel and give it a few minutes with a hair dryer on the low setting. Works every time.

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From: nnillionaire11/30/2011 4:32:27 PM
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I found a great deal on a Gateway DX4300 (2.4 ghz AMD Phenom 9750 Quad-Core with 1TB HD, 8000MB DIMM, ATI Radeon graphics card with 1GB memory, etc). The reason it was priced as a 'reburbished' unit was that it had Vista installed, so after the Win7 introduction it had to be sent back to the factory and sold as 'refurbished' even though the box had never been opened...and, oh, we'll throw in a copy of Win7 Home Premium64 as well.

I installed Win 7Home Premium64 immediately. A few ago later o/s became corrupt, so I completely wiped the HD and reinstalled Win7. However where the first installation had Windows Media Manager software to accommodate the built-in TV tuner, etc, this installation lacks those Windows Media programs. How do I find that software, or where do I look? Could it be on the old Vista disks? Strange.

Thanks for thoughts, direction, or answers.


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To: D.Lu who wrote (77368)11/30/2011 5:33:09 PM
From: SIer formerly known as Joe B.
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You didn't mention what OS, this is for Vista but should work for XP and Win 7 too.

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