Lenovo preloaded laptops with reformat-resistant perpetual crapware

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Are there any brands that don’t do this nowadays? (I’m in the market for a very low end laptop)


I like Asus myself after several frame and hinge fails in the IBM days, but yea, pull drive and install Linux, this applies to tablets too now that we have Ubuntu touch becoming useful.


If you want to go low end/cheap my favorite local refurb shop now has an online store and I can speak from using both Lenovo and Dell business class laptops those things are built like tanks for day to day use.


The HP Stream comes with some crapware, but if you nuke it and install Win10, it actually is quite pleasing to use:

The only issue with nuking it and reinstalling, is I am unsure how the Win8.1 license transfer works when not running as an upgrade.

Such as it is, the crapware was still quite light (mostly the HP support apps, and the McAfee suite). I opted for that route, after buying one for my parents. Once I connected an external drive to do the Win10 upgrade (needs an extra 6gb of scratch space), it was a nice little machine.


The feature is potentially useful. Can We the End Users take control over it?


I would guess that the executable is embedded into the ROM. Maybe not impossible to swap it out with something more useful, but difficult I would guess.

If that was the case, you probably would see the telltale ‘MZ’ embedded in a firmware update for those laptops, which ostensibly would lend itself to swapping it out with a hex editor.

(It might take you a few bricked laptops to get it right, though. :sweat_smile: )


Given that these days these data tend to reside in a SPI flash, which in some cases can even be socketed, backing it up and restoring should be rather easy…

BIOS hacking could be quite an interesting area of playing. See e.g. http://www.coreboot.org/ for more.

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Will a Gutmann overpass and a hardcore format not stop it then? Or is this shady firmware in the actual drives? If so, wtf?
ETA: though if so, I’m not surprised.

Cory, as this preload did not apply to ThinkPads, you were always safe.

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there hasn’t been a thing like a ‘hard format’ since the 386 days. and it is in the firmware, not the platters, so no amount of formatting will help (even to realign the drive :D)


@caryroys I recommend doing the free windows 10 update, getting a license, writing that down, then nuking and doing a clean install.

Not unless you pay extra for the privilege of getting a laptop that just has Windows and nothing else installed. Or if you aren’t wedded to the Windows OS, pay extra for a Mac.

Failing that, get a standalone copy of Windows (not a factory restore disk, a full fat install the OS from scratch on any machine disk), then use that to wipe the disk and install from scratch on whatever laptop you end up getting.

Or you could look for a refurbished laptop, which will be (somewhat) more likely to just have the OS installed with none of the crapware (shop retail so you can verify that it’s a clean install).


Have you tried this?

I gather they are cracking down more on multiple activations. It had occurred to me to try this, but I was unsure of the outcome.

Yes. That is how the keys are supposed to work, you can use them to reinstall the OS anytime, you just can’t use them on multiple machines at the same time. This is why any legit windows machine comes with a sticker or certificate containing the code, in case you need to reinstall the OS.

If you get the code via upgrade before you wipe, you’ll have a legit copy to reinstall, otherwise you’ll probably have to buy one.

I’ve upgraded three machines from windows 8.1 to 10 using this method.

I even upgraded my one non-legit (long story) windows 8.1 to windows 10 fully activated, via the free upgrade. I then wiped and used the same code for a fresh install on that machine, so it is now running a legit activated copy, hurray!


I have no trouble with crapware. Here is some software. We can sell you this PC a bit cheaper by advertising it to you. Pay for it and use it if you want it.

That’s fine. But if I decide No, then let me delete it. You’ve given it a shot but sorry I don’t want it. Now don’t make me hate you over it. Don’t make me put you on the blacklist of companies I hate.


On a side note, I think they are going to be cracking down LESS. Yes, they want their licenses to go out with any new machine, and they will still charge for those for the time being, but I think they are switching revenue models. The writing is on the wall so to speak.

Just like apple gives away new versions of its OS now to anyone who purchased an apple computer, I see windows moving in the same direction.

This is for 2 main reasons:

  1. Having as many users on the latest version as possible reduces support, issues, development costs, etc. It really makes a lot of sense.
  2. Controlling as many desktops as possible is the REAL money maker. When you own the store that sells most of the software, games, music, movies, books, whatever that users using your OS purchase, that is where the real money is. It is a new model and way of thinking, control the market, rather then restricting the copies of your OS. When you control the market, you want as many people as possible to install and use your OS, because you make money off of them. You can give your OS away and make many times more money off of secondary sales. It is a revenue stream that just keeps giving and giving.

That is my thoughts anyway and where I see things heading.


Also nice: I have a “Lenovo IdeaPad S205” (AFAIR) with a BIOS that does not allow to disable boot-on-LAN.

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I assume this would work to get a legit copy of windoz for using a sandbox like VirtualBox running in Linux?
I find that virtualization works well for me though the latest SolidWorks license I have fails when SW detects itself inside a VM.

Yes people are reporting it working in most cases.
Worked for my Parallel VMs on OSX.

Best of luck!