Removal tool for unwanted applications launched


Slimware Utilities has been using the internet to compile a list of unnecessary and unwanted software that is supplied with a new PC. It started the list last July at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas and now has enough information to launch an extraction tool, SlimComputer.

The company has used crowdsourcing as a way to fill out its knowledgebase of "bloatware" rapidly and cost-effectively. As more contributors added to the list, the applications have been better rated according to their perceived usefulness. Inferences for reconfiguring could also be used to set up templates for new computers from launch.

This list of makes, models and specific applications is used by Silmware's SlimComputer software to remove or disable the unwanted software and free up disk space. It also ensures that users are not wasting their time running demo software and games.

The tool will identify and remove programs that are surplus to requirements and also list nonessential toolbars, shortcuts and startup items that are automatically loaded when the computer is switched on. These are also removed or disabled according to preference.

SlimWare realised that it would have to be sure not to interfere with antivirus software, firewalls and other vital system software. Before any items are erased, a list of programs that could be uninstalled is presented for editing to ensure that no mistakes are made.

A problem with crowdsourcing is that there is always an element of misbehaviour from the contributors so Slimware has put measures in place to minimise this effect.

"Our cloud environment uses an authoritative ranking' algorithm that weighs the choices and ratings of each user in the community, based on their previous accuracy, and correlation to other high ranking users. Our researchers are also notified immediately if a major change is outside of the mean recommendation," said Chris Cope, SlimWare's chief executive.

To date, about 2,000 users have contributed, Cope said.

In the future the company plans to extend the cloud-sourcing capability to its SlimCleaner software, which deletes junk files.

User feedback will help identify new locations where programs such as browsers store temporary files, which can then be safely deleted. The capability will also be added to an upcoming version of its driver assessment and install software.