A ‘Clean Windows Install’ Is an Oxymoron arstechnica.com

Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica:

You can still do a clean install of Windows, and it’s arguably easier than ever, with official Microsoft-sanctioned install media easily accessible and Windows Update capable of grabbing most of the drivers that most computers need for basic functionality. The problem is that a “clean install” doesn’t feel as clean as it used to, and unfortunately for us, it’s an inside job — it’s Microsoft, not third parties, that is primarily responsible for the pile of unwanted software and services you need to decline or clear away every time you do a new Windows install.

This is obviously not isolated to operating systems; similar nags show up in third-party software, encouraging you to upgrade to the next subscription level or add more features. It is relentless. The subscription model proliferation has radically upended the relationship we have as users with vendors into a tense never-ending contract.

But it is dirtier to find in operating systems. Cunningham compares Microsoft’s approach primarily to Apple’s, but says similar upsells and self-promotional junk are present across products from Amazon, Google, and other device makers who encourage or require “some kind of account sign-in, the better to lure you into a wider subscription ecosystem that can keep shareholder-mandated continuous growth going“. Because these operating systems are the platforms upon which the entire digital ecosystem is built, they should face greater scrutiny by users, at the very least, if not by regulators. We are increasingly inundated by messages from the richest businesses on the planet that they are not yet extracting enough money from us.