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October 1, 2010

Inside the Microsoft Signature Lab

UPDATE 10/4/10, 11:15am PT – Clarified Signature Upgrade requirements.  Sorry for the confusion!

Last week I had the opportunity to talk with Ken Fowles, the company’s “Signature Samurai” and the man responsible for running the Microsoft Signature lab.  We had a chance to talk about Microsoft Signature, the image that’s on every PC sold in the Microsoft Store, and how the team optimizes it for performance, boot time, and ease of use.  Each Signature PC comes pre-installed with Windows 7, Windows Live Essentials, Zune, Microsoft Security Essentials, Microsoft Silverlight, Adobe Flash Player, Adobe Acrobat Reader, along with Store-optimized versions of Internet Explorer 8 and Windows Media Center – pretty much everything you need to get up and running right out of the box.  It’s not just about what’s there, it’s also about what’s not; Microsoft Signature also gets rid of the stuff that you don’t want, like trialware and redundant applications.  That’s a great combination, and it’s why I have the Signature team install it on every PC in my inventory. 

Check out what Ken has to say about Signature, and what’s going on in the lab – it’s pretty cool:

Get Microsoft Silverlight

As I said earlier, you can get Microsoft Signature on any PC purchased from the Microsoft Store.  But what if you buy a PC somewhere else, but want the Signature Experience?  That’s where the other half of Signature – Microsoft Signature Upgrade – comes in to play.  If you live near a store, you can bring in any Windows 7 compatible PC and the Store techs will do a clean install of Windows 7 (NOTE:  If your PC already has WIndows 7 on it, you’re good to go – no new license is required!  If you’re upgrading from an older version of Windows, you’ll need to purchase a Windows 7 Upgrade)  (you’ll need to buy a full retail copy, of course), migrate all of your data, and then apply the Signature configuration to it (i.e., set it up almost exactly like a Microsoft Store-bought PC).  It’s a great way to make your PC experience even better.

Have a question about Signature or any other PC question?  Post a comment, hit me on Twitter, or Ask Ben Anything via email.  Your question might appear in my monthly Ask Ben Anything Q&A column!