I sit and type this from a fairly new laptop, presumably a late-Christmas gift from my mother after I complained about typing on Microsoft Word’s mobile app enough. Besides my minor gripes of it having no CD drive and my palms accidentally bumping the trackpad too often, surely this gift would be only a benefit? Evidently, after all the undue stress the setting up of this laptop was, it was not so.
By and large, the initial process was fine. Muting Cortana was possible from the start, selecting a keyboard and Wi-Fi network was easy enough, and the wait times for the processes Microsoft apparently doesn’t want to spell out were reasonable. But then it asks for my Microsoft account.
Now, perhaps I am just a bit paranoid, and this article certainly won’t make me appear not so, but I wasn’t wanting to use the same account on both my desktop and this laptop. Not only did I not need to transfer all that many files between the two, anything I put on the cloud has the risk of being leaked—even if it’s minimal, it’s still not one I want if there’s nothing to gain from doing so. Unfortunately, while you can disconnect an account later and use a local one instead, you can’t do that from installation, and there’s no reason for that given by Microsoft as far as I can find. It’s also not easy to scrub the laptop of a Microsoft account once you put one on; I’ve had to sign out both from the laptop itself and the Microsoft Store so far, and I doubt I’ve fully disconnected it.
Brushing past how many times I denied Microsoft collecting my data and declined services that I didn’t care for, once I finally got past the installation, I immediately run across bloatware—software that I didn’t ask for that’s taking up useful space on my computer. My laptop effectively came with advertisements for things like Disney+ and TikTok in my start menu, and after the hair I pulled in the initial setup, I now had to spend extra time uninstalling it all. That is, if I could uninstall it at all—a few of them, like Roblox, refused to show up anywhere else or give me an uninstall button, so I just cut my losses and only removed it from the Start Menu. Perhaps assuming I’d already be installing these rather popular apps and making it more convenient was the intent, but when I wouldn’t be, they feel like just-a-bit-too-invasive advertisements or attempts to corral me in a more profitable (and less interesting to me) box, neither of which is a good first impression to make.
A new laptop shouldn’t be this difficult to wrangle. I should be able to launch straight into work, or maybe just getting my preferred browser and its bookmarks in order, not having to purge ads and data harvesting for a good half hour. Why should personal computers not start as a clean slate, or at least an easy-to-clean one?