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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Return of the free PC?

has renewed complaints about "crapware"--the less-than-flattering term for the free, preinstalled software that clutters hard drives and slows performance.


One can hardly blame Dell, of course, for accepting a huge sum of money for the arrangement at a time when it's to battle unprecedented competition in the PC market. But if price cuts are forcing a race to the bottom, is it possible that the industry will resurrect the concept of free PCs?

The idea, based loosely on the mobile phone industry's practices, proved unworkable when tried by some companies that weren't exactly household names. It would be interesting to see how a large brand such as Dell might approach the free-PC business.

Blog community response:

"If you take the Power of the Default concept and extend it beyond search and advertising and throw in they money you can potentially make over the long term via ISP charges, downloadable music and video, it could start to make a lot of sense for telcos to start pushing out PCs set-up and optimised to work with its services. Apple has already proved how well that works. And if there's one sector that understands how to manage subsidies its the telcos."

"I see a future where minimal configuration PCs preloaded with search and other discount coupons for shopping would be real cheap if they were subsidized by search engines and shopping portals. How about mail-in rebates for when you buy a PC?"
--The Lonely Corner

"I appreciate that all this crapware must be lowering the cost of the computer (I'm talking Dell here) to me. If Dell makes its margins on crapware and sells the hardware close to cost (they do) I get a cheap computer that can be free of crapware in less than an hour and save money."
--KsprayDad on TalkBack