Is this a solution to crapware on Windows PCs?

DDNi's SmileDock may be the industry-friendly answer

Icons for trial software and Web services, colorfully known as "crapware," cover new Windows desktops like pockmarks on the face of a Hollywood villain.

Consumers hate crapware because it steals storage space and creates clutter. Microsoft is no fan either, as consumers blame Windows for running sluggishly, even when crapware is the cause.

Even software vendors and Web site operators who pay big bucks to PC vendors to install crapware on their PCs are becoming disenchanted, according to Michael Kuptz, CEO of Digital Delivery Networks, because of low returns of less than 5 percent sell-through rate.

Yet crapware has an almost zero chance of going away. "Frankly, it's how the OEMs offset price erosion," said Kuptz, who should know, having spent two decades at IBM and Lenovo as a PC hardware manager. Before coming to DDNi, he was vice president and general manager of Lenovo's US consumer PC division.

The company is touting its solution called SmileDock. A thin toolbar that resides at the bottom of the Windows desktop and expands when clicked on into a full-fledged control panel, the SmileDock offers infomercial-type content on software and Web services chosen by the PC maker interspersed with free navigation and management features.

The latter is aimed at mainstream PC users, such as the archetypal 42-year-old soccer mom, Kuptz said.

The SmileDock won't install software or jump to a Web site until a user requests it. That avoids "sending out PCs with four to 500 MB of pre-loaded crapware," he said.

It is being used by Lenovo with its latest batch of IdeaPad consumer notebook PCs and other vendors. It has been shipped on half a million PCs in the last eight months.

DDNi was heavily marketing the latest version of SmileDock at the recent International CES trade show, as its deal with Lenovo is non-exclusive, Kuptz said. "We are actively engaged with every OEM," he said.

DDNi's business model is to share revenue with PC makers from all software or Web subscriptions sold through the SmileDock.

A number of PC vendors have built their own dashboards similar to the SmileDock, Kuptz said. Hewlett-Packard, for instance, has its Total Care, he said.

But the SmileDock offers several advantages, Kuptz said. Installing the SmileDock is faster for a PC maker than creating its own custom dashboard. DDNi also brings relationships with many software vendors, so that PC vendors don't need to seek and negotiate every single one.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags crapware

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Eric Lai

Computerworld
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?