Turning on the computer for the first time initiated the Windows configuration process. Unlike earlier OS versions, your super-long product code has already been entered by the manufacturer, so all that is required is a user name, password and machine name. After this I was prompted for Windows to grab updates and allowed it to get only those deemed "important" (for now). It found two security fixes. Once this was done, some sort of annoying introductory ASUS video played, which at least had the benefit of waking me up. I will spare you a shot of the menu but above you can see the initial desktop, clutter and all.
Yikes! That's a lot of rubbish to uninstall. A summary of what you might expect is helpfully provided in this bloatware guide.
The following apps I trashed for sure:
* ASUS AP Bank (trial software bundle)
* ASUS WebStorage (online storage)
* ASUS ControlDeck (3D control suite)
* ASUS Multiframe (multi-windowing)
* ASUS Fancystart (startup screen editor)
* ASUS Smart Logon (face recognition)
* ASUS Live Update (buggy and I prefer to do my own updates)
Then I had the joy of individually uninstalling a slew of game demos:
* Game Park Console
* Alice Greenfingers
* Dream Day Wedding
* Chicken 2 Invaders
* Piggly Free
* Smileyville Free
Next the insanely annoying and over-priced...
* Microsoft Office 2007
* Microsoft Office 2007 Activation Assistant
* Microsoft Office Live Add-In
But wait, there is more:
* Google Chrome (redundant)
* Trend Micro Internet Security (I have free equivalent)
* Boingo Installer (WI-FI access plan)
* Adobe Reader 9 (invasive and bloated)
By this point I was more than tired of bloatware. ASUS were doing their best to make me hate a computer I had previously thought was pretty good value. Even though there were another dozen apps I was unsure about, I stopped the extermination and instead turned towards installing necessary software.
First up was cccleaner, so I could zap the registry. Then I installed the following useful and superior products, many of them open source, all of them free. In this day and age there is no reason to pay for software for basic computer tasks.
* Firefox: web browser
* Panda Cloud Antivirus: like it says
* OpenOffice.org: word processor, spreadsheet, presentation builder, etc.
* Gimp: image editor
* VLC: media player
* CDex: CD ripping and MP3 encoding
* Audacity: audio editing
* Skype: for free calls
And then some handy utilities:
* Foxit: a better PDF reader
* PDFCreator: print driver that makes PDFs
* 7-Zip: archive manager
* Free Disk Analyser: helpful to see where your HD has gone
* Image Resizer Powertoy: simple way of making desktop images
I would normally have installed Deepburner for burning CDs and DVD, since Windows' own utility is under-featured and confusing. But many computer brands come with a license for a commercial DVD burning application. ASUS includes CyberLink Power2Go.
I kept certain useful or fun utilities ASUS provided, such as Power4Gear to manage the power settings and a webcam app.
Following this I moved the user folders to drive D, something I maybe should have done first. Then I could use the included AI Recovery utility to make a Windows restore disk, a process that took no fewer than five DVDs and many hours of my time. It's an important step, however, since computers never come with a Windows install disk (oh, remember the days...).
After this long and tedious process I had a computer I could start to use, though some sort of a backup solution is still required. At this point the C and D drives had 51 GB and 205 GB available, respectively, plenty for future endeavours.
To conclude this article, maybe I should re-evaluate the ASUS X5EAE. It is good value and still recommended if your time removing bloatware is worth nothing. Otherwise, if you can get something cleaner and much the same spec, let me know, it might well be a better solution.
ASUS, if you are reading this and want to reimburse me €200 for my time removing your crappy programmes, I'll mention your kindness in a follow-up post. In future, please leave all optional installs on a menu, so we can choose if we want them on our computer.
In my next post in this series, I will do some performance and battery testing. Thanks for reading and don't forget the donation button in the sidebar if this has been helpful, saved you time, or saved you money.