Bristling with energy, you race home, unpack your new laptop, and place the sleek machine on your desk. Crapware (sometimes called "bloatware" or "trialware") refers to the preloaded software that comes with each new PC.
You can hardly contain your excitement as you wait for it to boot up. We're not just talking about the odd trial for Adobe Photoshop Elements either.
These added programs eat up hard drive space, swallow RAM, and impede startup performance. So why is crapware even on the systems if it's such a nuisance?
Because it's a multimillion dollar business for notebook vendors and the best marketing opportunity a software vendor can buy.
In today's low-margin PC environment, it's increasingly difficult for vendors to earn enough revenue per computer sold.
With competing retailers offering full-blown notebooks for less than $500, hardware vendors have been forced to find new ways to continue lowering prices while increasing profits.
In this special report, we go behind the scenes of this industry within an industry and scrutinize the major players: the notebook vendors, struggling with lower margins; the software vendors, whose market share is determined by preinstallment agreements; Microsoft, and its Vista OS; and last but certainly not least, the consumer, who protests the inclusion of crapware yet demands lower-priced notebooks with increased functionality and features.