Dell installs less crapware on new computers than any other manufacturer, but one of their latest money-making tactics is annoying. Dell and Google have partnered to install the Google Toolbar and Google Desktop on most new computers – along with some trickier under-the-hood stuff to present unexpected pages of ads during your Internet browsing.
Google Desktop indexes documents and e-mail for fast searches. It was already lagging behind Microsoft Windows Desktop Search and it’s wholly irrelevant on a Windows Vista computer, where search is deeply integrated with the operating system.
The Google toolbar is an old friend, but also increasingly unnecessary for most people. There’s a search box in the upper right corner of IE7 that can be easily set to do a Google search by default, and most people never use the other Google toolbar buttons. Most people could remove it and recover the screen space. (Take a look at “Autofill” though – it can be a real timesaver.)
Recently Dell and Google cooked up a new service that’s much more slippery. If there’s a typo in a URL that you type into the browser on a new Dell computer, it won’t be automatically corrected and you won’t see suggestions to reach the correct address; instead, you’ll see a Dell-branded page with an entire screen full of advertising links.
Here’s a long rant about this Dell/Google software, with a screenshot so you can see what it looks like. When you mistype a URL, you ought to immediately see a link to connect to the intended site. Google can do that easily and normally does. The Dell/Google software conceals that functionality in favor of advertising.
Yuck. Remember, when you set up a new computer, immediately run to Uninstall Programs and start to take off the crap. On Dell computers, that now includes “Browser Address Error Redirector.” For the last couple of years I’ve also removed “Search Assistant” and “URL Assistant” from new Dell computers on the theory that anything with an ambiguous name that does not disclose its author is likely to be adware/spyware.