I bought my last laptop straight from Microsoft — and you should too

Microsoft surface laptop
The author using a Microsoft Surface Laptop. Melia Robinson/Business Insider

As it gets closer to back-to-school shopping season, you might find yourself in the market for a new computer.

Well, I went through the tedious, sometimes-frustrating process of picking out a laptop just a few months ago. As such, here are my two best pieces of advice:

  1. Whether you’re an Apple die-hard or just curious about the Mac, I urge you to take another look at the Windows PC. Windows 10 is pretty great, and there are lots of good Windows PC options at all price ranges nowadays.
  2. This one is a little more specific. You should absolutely get your next Windows laptop straight from Microsoft, either via its online store, or at the physical Microsoft Stores. You’ll have a way better experience in actually using the computer.

To dive a little deeper into point two: When you buy a new Windows PC from Dell, HP, Acer, or anyone else, it comes loaded up with “helpful” little utilities pre-installed on the system. In the industry, it’s a phenomenon known as “bloatware,” “crapware,” or “craplets,” and it’s a common practice: Often, software developers pay the manufacturer to have their products pre-installed.

While the manufacturers may or may not be well-meaning, those little programs all add up to take big chunks out of your PC’s resources, making it run slower over time. Occasionally, manufacturers even get busted for using this bloatware to serve customers ads and leave their PCs open to attack.

This is where Microsoft comes in.

What is Windows 10 Signature Edition?

If you buy a computer from Microsoft, you get what it calls a “Windows 10 Signature Edition” PC. That’s just Microsoft-speak for a PC without any of that bloatware, and with nothing pre-installed on it other than what comes with Windows 10 itself. It’s clean and fresh for you to install what you want, as you want it.

It doesn’t matter if it was made by Dell, or HP, or whoever: If you get a Signature Edition PC, it’s fresh and clean and not prone to any of that bad stuff.

It’s also worth noting that if you buy a Microsoft Surface laptop, tablet, or PC, no matter where you get it from, it will be similarly clean, even if it’s not specifically a “Signature Edition.” Microsoft wants to make sure anybody buying its home-brewed hardware gets the best possible experience.

That said, Microsoft Stores get a bad rap, and I’ve only ever had positive experiences as a customer. So maybe swing by if you have the means and motive.

Finally, Microsoft is also tackling the bloatware problem in a different way: Windows 10 S, a streamlined new version of the operating system, literally doesn’t let you install any software that Microsoft hasn’t signed off on, neatly nipping the bloatware problem in the bud, even though it also introduces new frustrations into the experience.

Get the latest Microsoft stock price here.