back to article Lenovo: We SWEAR we're done with bloatware, adware and scumware

Barely a week after the breaking of the Superfish scandal, Lenovo has done a complete reverse ferret on bloatware - promising that by the time Windows 10 comes out its systems will be as pure as they can be. “The events of last week reinforce the principle that customer experience, security and privacy must be our top …

  1. Ol' Grumpy
    Thumb Up

    Ironic? Announcing they are clearing up their act and then offering a subscription to McAfee! :)

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      My exact thought

      Fight fire with fire, err... bloatware with more bundled bloatware.

      1. Shane8

        Re: My exact thought

        Could be worse....i hear Norton AV is still around!

        1. jgarbo
          Linux

          Re: My exact thought

          Can't you just wipe the drive, install Linux and be done? Did it with my $220 Acer E11. Everything works well.

          1. ps2os2

            Re: My exact thought

            That a good idea however you have already paid for Windows so MS got their toll already.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      TRUE and HONEST statement by Lenovo.

    3. techietubby

      I cannot believe that so called AV vendors such as McAfee can silently push install their solutions onto client PCs without even checking if there is already a competing product on the system. I have an Acer and a HP laptop and spent nearly a week just removing all the addware, crapware, and bloatware that came bundled with the standard build only to find out a couple of weeks later (after my PC started seriously misbehaving) that McAfee had some re-installed on top of Zonealarm.

      I think that products such as Java should have to display a full page warning before installing anything like this explaining exactly what is being added, and the risks and issues etc. This needs to be backed-up by huge fines if they fail to comply!

  2. SolidSquid

    If they actually fulfill that promise of a completely clean install of windows on their machines then that would be a *big* selling point. If they claim that and it turns out that it's not entirely accurate though then that's pretty much going to sink the company's reputation for good

    1. thebertster

      Call me a horrendous cynic, but I don't think you could call it a "clean operating system install" if they're still pre-installing "software required to make the hardware work well", "security software" and "Lenovo applications".

      That could include the standard Symantec/McAfee "anti-virus" trial along with hundreds of pop-up nag screens begging you to pay, "intelligent connection manager" software that completely breaks normal operation of the Windows wireless LAN stack, update software that reinstalls all things you've deliberately uninstalled etc. etc. That's still a heck of a lot of bloatware in my book.

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        If I'm being fair to Lenovo here, most of the Lenovo applications that are actually written by Lenovo are useful and even nessesary. Plus, they do have to load up third party drivers, etc. So what your Lenovo will probably look like is:

        Windows 10

        Intel/AMD/nVidia/etc software that comes with their drivers

        Lenovo support tools to help Lenovo keep your drivers up to date, and allow them to remote your PC if you give them the code

        Lenovo tool to make special keypresses (such as turn on/off keyboard backlight, tweak monitor brightness, etc) not only work, but show an icon on the screen when you push the button.

        I will be following this up over time and seeing just what they mean by all of this.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          A new Lenovo AiO has joined the family of PC's I'm occasionally asked to support. It was, aside from the obligatory trial Office 365, very crap-ware free. Having spent quite a few years officially supporting IBM kit, it was still familiar. [I have to wonder how many former IBM-engineering bods, who came with the sale to Lenovo, had to be walked over to get that software approved.]

          Could be an industry-wide sea-change but I sure as hell ain't holding my breath.

        2. Fuzz

          "Lenovo support tools to help Lenovo keep your drivers up to date, and allow them to remote your PC if you give them the code

          Lenovo tool to make special keypresses (such as turn on/off keyboard backlight, tweak monitor brightness, etc) not only work, but show an icon on the screen when you push the button."

          But this is bloatware. Drivers can be pushed through Windows Update no need for a different Lenovo tool to be running to do this.

          There shouldn't be any special key presses, volume, brightness etc. all of these are standard keys and since Windows 8 there have been on screen displays for them too.

          Instead of wasting everyone's time developing these tools they should spend the time developing their laptops so that they work properly with a vanilla Windows install.

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            re: @Fuzz

            Drivers can be pushed through Windows Update no need for a different Lenovo tool to be running to do this.

            Yeh right, it was the third-party drivers MS insisted on installing from WUP that helped to break the MS imposed auto update from W8 to 8.1 on a set of HP laptops a client had...

          2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Bullshit. Drivers can only be disseminated through windows update if they've gone through the amazingly long validation process. This typically means drivers that are ages behind...and Microsoft won't qualify all driver types to begin with.

            Next, Lenovo can't submit drivers to Microsoft for validation: the manufacturers must do this. Do you think Ricoh have the money and resources to validate every driver release for their smart card reader? Do you honestly expect nVidia, AMD and Intel to slow their GPU driver releases to Microsoft speeds?

            And how, exactly, do you download all those Windows updates without network or wifi drivers? Or are you saying that we should all be limited to network devices that ship with Windows? No upgraded units until the next version? And how, exactly, does the "next version" theory work with the new Windows release scheme?

            And yes, the "extra keys" need software. The function keys and non-keyboard keys don't all work with Windows 8 or Windows 10.

            Sorry, mate, but you haven't a clue what you're on about.

            1. NeilMc

              Genuinely Insigtful response which supported my suspicions

              Not being an out and out Tech Bod I thought Drivers as a minimum in their many forms updated via MS Updates was total BS.

              The number of times I have rebuilt home PC's only to then hit individual component vendor sites for the latest drivers having loaded all the MS stuff lead me to believe our colleagues assertions were factual incorrect.

              I hope Lenovo really DELIVER on this commitment. It could be a genuine sea change that results in them taking the title and setting the new standard.

              Bring it on Lenovo, you need to be doing it better and cleaner than the other guys even to stay in the business. Feck this up and you will be toast.

    2. ps2os2

      Its too late

      Their reputation has already sunk.

  3. Robert E A Harvey

    Too late, too late

    They are off my list, as are Sony. Still unforgiven for the root kit.

    Look lads&ladys, the only way to bring it home to these companies is to stop buying their shit.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Too late, too late

      Not necessarily. Making them liable for every single identity fraud penny by all of their customers over the period sold will do the job too (regardless of the fact was Superfish involved or not). That will, in fact, be more than the damage from a few geeks no longer buying their stuff.

      Online fraud in the UK is ~ 100M per annum, USA is ~ 500 or thereabouts. Multiply by Lenovo market share which was 12-14% during this period you are looking at a nice and rounded number in the range of >350M for Eu + USA. Double that for the costs of administering the reimbursement and you are looking at 700M.

      That should be a sufficient "do not do that again" lesson.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Too late, too late

        I think Robert was referring to the Sony rootkit that installed from some sort of CD music thing. The guy that found it ran a site called sysinternals (if I remember correctly). After it was called out, MS promptly hired him and the site disappeared.

        Looking at what went on, it was a deliberate way MS Windows is designed so that the functionality was built in to hide files, processes etc. The sysinternals guy stumbled on it by accident.

        1. Anonymous Coward
        2. Blitterbug
          Facepalm

          Re: ...it was a deliberate way MS Windows is designed

          Fer cryin' out loud...

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Too late, too late

          It didn't disappear at all, it was absorbed into MS Technet.

          Mark Russinovitch's blog post on the rootkit is here:

          http://blogs.technet.com/b/markrussinovich/archive/2005/10/31/sony-rootkits-and-digital-rights-management-gone-too-far.aspx

          MS bought Sysinternals because the tools were so good for Windows Sysadmins, and because they wanted Russinovitch's expertise. Nothing to do with the rootkit. the buyout was the year after they revealed the rootkit's existence.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Too late, too late

          Nope, Mark hasn't disappeared at all. I just downloaded and placed his current (updated) collection on a shiny, new WS2012R2 instal. Mark, Nir Sofer, and Jerrold Schulman (co-Sysop/tech expert) have been longtime mainstays here.

          Aside: Shades of BOFH. I do love the screams of Armageddon coming when I install them into a system despite malware detection tools.

      2. John Tserkezis

        Re: Too late, too late

        "Making them liable for every single identity fraud penny by all of their customers over the period sold will do the job too"

        Firstly, they have more lawyers than you can fit in a courtroom, it's likely at least one of them will come up with a "it's not our fault, we didnt' know, blame the third party software".

        It's a nice diversion, but ultimately, they learn to hide it better.

        The single thing anyone can do is hit their bottom line - don't buy their gear. Dollars and Cents are more effective than whining who did what.

      3. NeilMc

        Re: Too late, too late

        Really good argument, well presented and thought through.

        But there is no Legal or Governmental will to make this happen. Just like the Banks and Fat Cat Corporate Weaners who fleece shareholders and customers to line their own pockets.

        They all get off; lack of will to prosecute and a lack of ownership and responsibility when it comes to proving who did what and when.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Too late, too late

      I'm prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt...if they'd kept on with their initial "fuck you, peasants" approach then, yeah, they'd be on my list too. Whether that initial response was an attempt to bluff; panic; or simply being unaware of the seriousness of the problem is a source of conjecture; but that is an absolutely normal reaction for a big company getting caught fucking up.

      What redeems them partially in my eyes is the extensive efforts since to make good. It's not easy for a Chinese company to admit they were wrong with the whole 'face' thing and all. It's not easy for any company to admit any kind of liability because they are inevitably going to be hit with a monsoon of lawsuits about 0.4 seconds after the press release. They have -unusually- listened to their customers and have taken the incredibly brave step -for a corporation- of fessing up; got a removal tool out in a very short time and have taken other steps to make sure they're not going to get caught out again. And they know they're going to be watched quite closely for a time, so you can more-or-less guarantee that the measures are things that are actually happening rather than PR promises.

      Not convinced about the McAfee; but you have to ship new computers with some prophylactic measures (or else they'll be pwned as soon as they hit the net) and McAfee probably pays a few quid so meh. Better than nothing. Possibly.

      For me, their actions have removed them from my 'Sony' list (not never, no way) to my 'to be watched suspiciously for a while' list.

  4. Nigel The Pigeon

    Ingredients

    There ought to be laws, similar to what you see on food packaging, that list the ingredients of your laptop / device. I for one don't eat anything with Aspartame in it, and would love to be able to make the same choice about my laptops.

    I have no idea what variety of spyware came bundled onto my cheap touchscreen Acer (bought in US), but I have had to abandon it because it was clearly riddled with something that is underlining words in html pages and putting ads in. I need to find a shop somewhere that can do a clean install - with linux this time and not windows surface!

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Ingredients

      There ought to be laws, similar to what you see on food packaging, that list the ingredients of your laptop / device.

      This laptop contains 56% zeros, 44% ones. This is 110% of the recommended windows allowance. Ones and zeros are known to cause cancer in the state of California. Please use in moderation.

      1. Nigel The Pigeon

        Re: Ingredients

        haha. I hope it would be at least 90% zeros when you first purchase it!

      2. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

        Re: Ingredients

        Not a random distribution, then.

        If there are 10^11 bits within the supplied software, the standard deviation will be ca 1.6E5, so even 51% - 49% would be suspiciously large.

      3. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Ingredients

        This laptop contains 56% zeros, 44% ones.

        An interesting, but potentially purely academic point would be to analysis the typical HDD and determine the exact proportion of zero's and one's (assuming free space is zero'd).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Ingredients

          assuming free space is zero'd

          I'm not sure that would be a valid assumption. Disk formatting programs used to use a pattern of 01010101 or something similar.

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: Ingredients

            As an academic exercise the purpose of "zeroing" the free space is purely to set it to a consistent known value, so that comparison with other samples become valid.

            However, because HDD's are variable in size and free space would be the major usage, it is probably better to exclude it otherwise based on 00000000 the perentage of 1's will tend to zero and with a pattern of 01010101 the percentage will tend to 50:50.

      4. NeilMc

        Re: Ingredients

        Comedy Genius in the making. LOL just spat my Monday AM latte over my Lenovo.

        Any PC scrappers out there what a fried StinkPad?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Re: Ingredients

      Try http://www.novatech.co.uk/. You can buy a machine 'bare bones'.

      1. Sandtitz Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: novatech @linicks

        I wouldn't buy any of those bare bone laptops from them.

        The 14" Ultrabooks and the "Everyday" models are all 1366x768 and can't be customized.

        The 15 inch "Pro" laptops sport the same resolution - you need a 17" display to get FHD.

        Only the "High Performance" category has Full HD on some models and that's it.

        Configuring a model to match Lenovo W540 for example will get a cheaper price but those Lenovos have a 3-year onsite warranty and they also weight a lot less.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ingredients

      I for one don't eat anything with Aspartame in it, and would love to be able to make the same choice about my laptops.

      I've done a bit of lightweight Friday night research; and I think you're safe to eat whatever laptop you like.

      DISCLAIMER: Do not do this! Just remembered it was Friday...

  5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Weasel words

    “The events of last week reinforce the principle that customer experience, security and privacy must be our top priorities,”

    Reinforce? What they mean is "brought home to us that we should have always known that". If they'd said that then they might have started to look honest in their statements.

    It's the same as "your call/privacy/<whatever they've just failed on> is important to us". No it isn't or they'd have worked harder at it.

    The only way to make a promise to do better look credible is to for a company to admit that the reason they failed was that they paid little if any attention to whatever it was they failed on. As soon as the familiar PR line is trotted out as a preliminary to whatever's being said all credibility is lost.

  6. Esme

    I agree with all of the above. One ought to be able to buy kit with NO operating system; with just an OS installed on it if the vendor offers this as a service, or with OS and basic security software if vendor offers this as a service. And there really should be seriously heavy financial penalties for all entities that try to push spyware onto others PC's by whatever means.

    Companies need to learn that saying 'sorry' doesn't make it all right. I'm quite prepared to avoid Lenovo products because I am no longer convinced that they are trustworthy. If they're able to convince someone else that they've learnt their lesson and are now trustworthy again, good for them. But they're still not getting my cash. Trust is one of the hardest things to gain and the easiest to lose. Companies should recognise how valuable the trust of their customers is. Sadly, too many do not.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Did I just hear wild meaouwing?

      The meaowing sound you hear is Microsoft having kittens and they are hungry and loud ones too.

      They love the OEM game, they forced it during the 90-es using methods that were originally invented by Al Capone, Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky. I used to build PCs and run a small PC shop for a living 1992-1994 so I remember that one very well (as a part of rolling Win95 out).

      So trust me, Microsoft will do anything and everything to have that game in place. Inclusive of stuff worthy of the characters mentioned above.

    2. earl grey
      Trollface

      Trust is one of the hardest things to gain and the easiest to lose

      Ditto for virginity.

    3. The Dude

      HP isn't much better

      Just finished removing a boatload of crapware from an HP 'all-in-one' computer, at the client's expense. I don't remember when this trend started, but I wish they would all stop bundling it with a new computer.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To become the leader in providing cleaner, safer PCs

    The only way that will happen is to sell with no OS and let the Customer decide what they want to install. OK, that borks 99% of people, but so what.

    1. GBE

      Re: To become the leader in providing cleaner, safer PCs

      The problem with "borking" the 99% is that it's the volumes provided by their purchases that make the hardware cheap enough that teh 1% can afford to buy it.

  8. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Too Late....

    The company (the one I work for) is getting ready to order a pile of laptops and PC's for a tech refresh... For years, one of the higher ups has always pushed for IBM's and then after IBM sold out to Lenovo, he still pushed usually saying "IBM wouldn't sell off to company that's not trustworthy". Well, he's recused himself at this late state in the process with a very red face. I do believe Lenovo has been stricken from the vendor list.

    Yes, we build our own images, but there's always been questions from techs/engineers involved about their hardware security since the sale.

    1. R 11

      Re: Too Late....

      Interesting. Which vendors are you considering that don't use hardware sourced from China?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Coat

        Re: Too Late....

        Tuppaware?

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Too Late....

        And which vendors are you considering that actually manufacturer their own hardware to the same standard as the Thinkpad T-series? Which I suspect would be the range your higher up would of pushed for, albeit most probably on the advice of his IBM contact.

  9. Peter Gordon

    Well that was a rollercoaster

    As someone who bought a Lenovo G50 laptop with the crapware on (incidentally, I think its otherwise a really nice laptop), reading this sentence was like this:

    "Lenovo is now offering all customers who had Superfish ..."

    Hmmm?

    "... (those who bought a consumer PC between September last year and January)..."

    Hmmmmm?

    "... a free .."

    Ooooh. I like free stuff!

    ".. six-month subscription to McAfee Livesafe security scanner"

    Oh :-(

    1. DavCrav

      Re: Well that was a rollercoaster

      "Ooooh. I like free stuff!

      ".. six-month subscription to McAfee Livesafe security scanner"

      Oh :-("

      It's like offering someone kicked in the face a free punch in the face.

  10. Richard Boyce

    Not just Lenovo

    The term "Lenovo applications" can mean anything they'll tie their devalued brand name to. It may just mean that they'll copy what Samsung does with their devices, adding lots of "Samsung" apps that want permission to monitor you, won't take no for a final answer, and which you're not allowed to uninstall.

    A similar security scandal involving Android devices is probably overdue.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: Not just Lenovo

      Y'know, I bought a computer. I didn't buy all the crap that came with it; I didn't ask for it; I don't want it.

      Any computer you buy - and I mean *any*, I don't care what name is on the front - should be restorable to a bare-bones install of the OS and nothing else.

      It is absolutely inexcusable that maker supplied software should be doing anything like the crap that Lenovo's crapware did.

      1. The Dude

        Re: Not just Lenovo

        Not quite bare-bones... I do want them to include all the drivers required for the computer.

  11. W. Anderson

    How quickly the public will forget

    Of one thing Lenovo and most other companies, technology or otherwise is "full aware of", consimers and even business in USA, UK and other jurisdictions suffer from a severe case of Attention Deficit Sndrome (ADS) and will quickly have forgotten the 'Superfish' scandal, when Windows 10 is released for consumption.

    The the company can then proceed to install or allow installation of "even more" and dangerous bloatware. Go Lenono! Stick it to them.

  12. Someone Else Silver badge
    FAIL

    Yeah, yeah...sure

    And the check is in the mail, and I won't cum in your mouth.

    Too little, and waaaay too late

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Aw crude

    Honestly, microsoft should figure out a way to mandate that OEMs (or would it be some legal/licensing issue?) ship with clean windows installs, regardless of your feelings on that particular OS no one can deny a large number of responsiveness complaints are due to all the crap OEMs install than the base OS itself, at least when the complaints are coming from non-technical users. I am sure I am not alone in being completely tired of uninstalling and cleaning all the bloat off friends and loved ones sluggish machines or just flat out formatting them and doing a clean install when they arrive new.

    1. Sandtitz Silver badge

      Re: Aw crude

      Honestly, microsoft should figure out a way to mandate that OEMs (or would it be some legal/licensing issue?) ship with clean windows installs

      That'll never happen since Microsoft would really need to remove the Office trial version as well. And all those preloaded Metro apps as well (mail, news, weather etc)

      Microsoft has the Signature program for OEMs that features clean installs. Never seen one myself.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Facepalm

    I suspect Lenovo forgot.

    Forgot they were dealing with people outside of China that is.

    If you look at Chinese software, it is packed with bloatware and Chinese government spyware; dont believe me? Go download and compare the QQ International and Chinese language versions; the Chinese version comes loaded with so much crap it BROKE the brand new budget PC it was loaded on; the PC slowed down to the speed on a P50 running Vista until many arduous hours were spent manually removing all of the crap that was installed alongside the QQ IM program.

    (Hours because of how slow the PC became, running at normal speeds it would have taken minutes!!)

  15. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    So Lenovo doesn't want to sell in the indeterminate future?

    So Lenovo doesn't want to sell any computers in the indeterminate future? Nobody in their right mind would possibly buy a Windows 8/Windows 8.1 Lenovo, when Lenovo is only claiming they'll clean up their Windows 10 systems. And Windows 10 is after all vaporware (there's no even vague determination of when it's going to be released after all.)

    Also, what are "Lenovo applications"? Could be bloatware by another name.

    1. Fenton

      Re: So Lenovo doesn't want to sell in the indeterminate future?

      The trouple is there are a lot of devices out in the channel they have no control over only with windows 10 release will they have the opportunity to ship without bloat.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: So Lenovo doesn't want to sell in the indeterminate future? @Fenton

        I think Lenovo in trying to communicate clearly have put your finger on the problem.

        It is only with a new factory image that doesn't exist in the channel today, namely the Windows 10 release, can Lenovo be absolutely sure that customers can confidently purchase a Lenovo consumer grade laptop without concern. I expect this will also apply if you purchase a Windows 10 laptop downgraded to 7/8.

        Also I suspect given the inventory issues around the Win8 launch, Lenovo have one eye on the launch of Win10.

        Obviously, if you are buying today and want to avoid the 'bloat' then do as I've done for years and buy from the business ranges.

  16. This post has been deleted by its author

  17. zen1

    Today Lenovo, tomorrow HP

    Burn me once shame on you. Burn me twice and I will never do business with you again.

  18. doodleMonkey

    Ahhh Lenovo

    Actually changed my buying strategy because of Lenovo. I had two Lenovo 'Thinkpads'; which massively disappointed me in terms of their quality, performance and longevity. So this time round I bought the cheapest Dell I could find and have been pleasantly surprised (got what I paid for, but its ok).

    Lenovo listening to customers is an amusing concept; they have a reputation for poor customer service and ignoring customers.. which was my own experience.

    They also have a reputation for pre-loading a lot of software and utilities, some of it useful to be fair. So it would be interesting to see how clean they supply machines in the future. Not that I'll be trying them; that ship sailed a long time ago. The Thinkpad is dead. Long live something else.

  19. PAT MCCLUNG

    No hardware trojans?

    No hardware trojans, or malware in UEFI?

  20. Just a geek

    “The events of last week reinforce the principle that customer experience, security and privacy must be our top priorities"

    Shouldn't they be anyway? Is this lenovo admitting that security and privacy were not to priorities? At least not until they were caught anyway.

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