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Looking for a Microsoft Signature Edition PC? Here's what to do instead



 Signature Edition PC
Microsoft / Internet Archive

Microsoft's Signature Edition PCs were one of the Microsoft Store's best offerings since Microsoft used a clean copy of Windows with no bloatware on these PCs. Signature Edition PCs, but you can turn any PC into one.

Buying a PC Often Comes with More Than You Paid For

disappointment. At first blush, Windows seems to be clean and whole, and then a trial antivirus opens up. It wants you to pay for it, install other programs, and just as you are not known for making its presence known. Your computer may be new and fast, but it somehow feels gross.

Microsoft boasted that one point that their PCs would start 1

04% faster and shut down 35% faster than non-Signature PCs. You can see these numbers courtesy of the Wayback Machine because Microsoft is not pushing Signature PCs anymore

You are left with four choices if you want a clean Windows PC:

  • Use Microsoft's Fresh Start Tool to remove junk
  • Buy a Surface Device
  • Build a PC
  • Clean with Windows Media Creation Tool

Let's take a look.

Use Microsoft's Fresh Start Tool on Any PC

 Fresh Start explanation screen

Starting with Windows 8, Microsoft introduced a "Reset Your PC" option to uninstall all your programs and get your rig back to a "first-launch-like" state.

Thankfully, Microsoft later introduced Fresh Start, a tool that would uninstall all desktop programs that are standard to Windows. Whether it's an antivirus app or Office, this tool will remove it. There are some downsides to using this tool, though. You might lose drivers specific to your machine, for example. Unlike any other tool, it will remove traditional desktop programs, it will not uninstall any Universal Windows Platform (UWP) from your computer.

apps — this option wouldn't help you. Considering that even Microsoft is installing apps we do because now, the Fresh Start tool is simply not all it's cracked up to. Still, it's a viable option for removing the garbage that manufacturers install (and that you might have installed yourself) and it does its job without disturbing your personal files.

for “Fresh Start,” then click on the “Device performance & health” option that appears. Click the “Additional Info” link, then click “Get Started.” The steps from there are pretty straight forward.

RELATED: How to Reinstall Windows 10 Without the Bloatware

Buy a Surface PC

 Surface Pro 4 with Cortana open
ymgerman / Shutterstock

Manufacturers like Dell and Lenovo install bloatware to generate additional money from each computer they sell. They sell PCs almost at cost, they make very little money from you and have to make it up elsewhere. But Microsoft doesn't have any considerations like that. So the closest thing you can get to Signature PC these days is a Surface device. They have a clean version of Windows installed, with no antivirus or cleaning type programs.

The Surface Go starts with Windows S, which won't run desktop programs, so Microsoft couldn't put one on the PC if it wanted to . Unfortunately, Microsoft is adding advertisements in the form of apps to the Windows Start menu, but that's practically unavoidable. You can see these Start Menu ads on all Windows PCs, even if you build a PC and install Windows yourself. The good news is that you can quickly or unpin them by right-clicking on the app and selecting "Unpin From Start" or "Uninstall."

The downside here is that the Surface line is mostly premium devices that have a premium cost . A Surface Pro 6 starts at $ 899 (with no keyboard), while a Surface Studio starts at an eye-watering $ 3500. The one exception is the Surface Go, which starts at $ 400, but the processor on this device is very slow and would not be useful for anything intensive like video or photo editing.

Build Your Own PC

 technician installing power supply in a PC
Denis Rozhnovsky / Shutterstock

If you build your PC, then manufacturers can't place extras on your machine because you've cut them out of the process. Building a PC is less than might be possible, because over time the process has been streamlined.

You usually save much money (it's hard to beat the bulk prices manufacturers get on components), but you get to decide where that money gets excited. Don't care about a fancy case? Don't get one. Spend the extra money getting a larger hard drive. Need a powerful processor, but want a bigger SSD? No problem; it's all under your control.

The main downside to building a PC is that you have to handle warranties for each install, as opposed to a store-bought system with one warranty that covers everything.

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] The nuclear option is to reinstall Windows from scratch. Using the Fresh Start tool is probably the easier and better choice, but clean install might be better if your copy of Windows is exhibiting bad behavior. Thankfully though, this is easier than ever thanks to the Media Creation Tool, which will let you create installation media to reinstall Windows 10 on your PC. Going this route will allow you to completely clean, which means removing everything — including your personal files. You want to back up important files before going this route (if you are not already, which — you know — you should be.) It's an unfortunate reality that crapware helps to pay for PCs, and sadly this is something that is even spreading to TVs as well. Thankfully, with PCs, you at least have options to minimize the problem. If you want a Signature-Edition-like experience, take matters into your own hands and declutter your PC. You'll thank yourself for the effort later.


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