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What is Bundled Software?

Mary Elizabeth
Updated May 16, 2024
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Broadly speaking, bundled software is software that comes with a new Windows® or Macintosh® computer. While some bundled software, such as the operating system, is absolutely essential and every machine will have one, pretty much everything else can change. Not only the exact software applications, but also the licensing terms of use and other details may vary. Bundled software is also used less frequently to apply to several software applications that are marketed in a single package.

Because a computer manufacturer can purchase software in bulk, it may be relatively inexpensive to place software on all new computers. In addition, it may be a selling point for some customers. In addition, trial software for other companies may generate goodwill. Bundled software is different than pre-installed software that a user has ordered and paid for along with a new machine and which has received a courtesy factory install.

Macintosh® bundled software has an Address Book, calendar called iCal®, instant messaging program called iChat®, music program called iTunes®, Mail, and a web browser called Safari®. It generally also includes the iLife® software suite. This package has four programs: iPhoto® for organizing photographs; iMovie® for creating or editing movies; GarageBand® for recording or mixing songs; and iWeb™ for creating custom websites. With Snow Leopard®, also known as Mac OS X 10.6, an alternate version of QuickTime® may also be available. Trial software and non-Apple products are not the norm.

Windows® computers, too come with an installed operating system. The software bundle may include full versions of software applications, as well as lite or demo versions, and trial versions that have a limit of 60 or 90 days. In the case of lite software, the user has the option to upgrade. With demo or trial software, the user can either purchase a license to unlock the software that is already on the machine or purchase a full version. If the user does not wish to use the software, it is possible to uninstall it, which should be done according to manufacturer’s instructions to avoid leaving unwanted remnants behind. Sample bundled software that might be included with a Windows® computer includes: a demo or trial version of an antivirus program, Windows® Media Player, Windows® Photo Gallery, Windows® Movie Maker, Windows® DVD Maker, a collection of games, the browser Microsoft® Internet Explorer®, Adobe® Reader®, Microsoft® Works, and a trial version of Microsoft® Office.

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Mary Elizabeth
By Mary Elizabeth
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to writing articles on art, literature, and music for EasyTechJunkie, Mary works as a teacher, composer, and author who has written books, study guides, and teaching materials. Mary has also created music composition content for Sibelius Software. She earned her B.A. from University of Chicago's writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont.
Discussion Comments
By indigomoth — On May 25, 2013

@Mor - As good as those free programs are, I don't think they can compare to some of the ones out there that were developed by the big companies. And I've noticed that you end up with compromises all the time.

Even with operating systems you see it. I don't see the point of using another system if you have to constantly run a Windows clone on it in order to play what you want to play.

By Mor — On May 25, 2013

@pleonasm - I find that it matters less and less to me now. Almost everything that gets included in bundles (unless it's an awesome deal and they are throwing in something that isn't standard) is going to be a program you can get for free online anyway. Even the office software has several free equivalents that are almost as reliable and powerful and cost you absolutely nothing.

I haven't actually paid for anything except games for a while and most of the time I don't pay for them either.

You can find them through places like Ares or other software and file hubs. Just research which type of program you want and you'll be able to find it, and legally as well.

By pleonasm — On May 25, 2013

I find it's quite important to try and get bundled software whenever I get a new computer, because the software by itself is just so expensive.

It's almost always hundreds of dollars, for something that I just take for granted, like the standard word processing suite of programs.

I'm a real bargain hunter though, so I'll always try to find the best deal. Sometimes that means getting the software off the shelf, but mostly it's better to get bundled software.

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the...
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