For many people, the festive season and Christmas in particular is a time to indulge and enjoy the time they spend with family friends and loved ones.
However, in recent years, office applications, computers and smartphones have seemingly been indulging in the same, leading to an increase in a type of software commonly referred to as bloatware.
Whilst it is often seen as relatively harmless, bloatware can cause a surprising level of harm to productivity, depending on the precise nature of the bloatware, causing annoying notifications, noticeable computer slowdown and other adverse effects, especially in cases where the software refuses to be uninstalled normally.
What Is Bloatware?
The concept of computer bloat is a symptom of an issue rather than a cause, but it is typically used to describe slow applications, filled with unnecessary features and are not only unwanted but create a negative user experience.
Whilst there are many types of bloatware that need to be discussed, the most common example of the concept is pre-installed software that comes with computers and smartphones that are not wanted but also cannot be easily removed.
The reason why bloatware is often pre-installed on computers is often as part of agreements between software and hardware manufacturers. The former pays for the latter to allow software to be pre-installed, which is the reason why every laptop seems to have a version of McAfee or Norton Antivirus preinstalled on it.
The other main type of bloatware is software people want to use that has ballooned in size due to the inclusion of a growing array of features that take away from the overall user experience.
This has been seen with Microsoft Office applications, which add more features with each addition, each of which uses more memory and takes up more disk space.
Ironically, one of the worst offenders in recent years was the popular bloatware cleaning tool CCleaner after it was bought out by antivirus software developer Avast, particularly with the aggressive way it would force updates and installations of other bloatware.
Why Does It Harm Productivity?
If you have dealt with the frustration of a computer that seems to act lethargic and slow to wake up, one of the reasons for this could be a huge number of applications loading as soon as Windows boots up. This could take as much as half an hour out of your day waiting for programs to load.
As well as this, many pieces of software have frustrating notifications or advertisements that need to be removed or clicked away from, which can take some people away from the essential work they are doing.
What is more concerning, however, is that some bloatware is actively harmful to a computer system, which can make a computer more vulnerable to hackers and software viruses.
Most bloatware packages, such as dedicated OEM software installers are not updated as often as Windows is, meaning that vulnerabilities quickly patched out of a vanilla Windows installation may still exist if someone relies on these pieces of bloatware.
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