Actually, from my experience the "cruft" that supposedly gets Windows bloatier and slower, isn't as much a Microsoft issue, but the result of all those crap half-arsed 3'rd party installers and (more importantly) uninstallers, that placed crap all over the place and then forgot to uninstall it.
On my home machine I must have thousands of copy protection DLL's and drivers from all those paranoid game publishers alone, because God forbid that they don't place yet another obfuscated and untested driver on the DVD chain. You know, what with all the pirates running a cracked version without that anyway, God forbid that they'd stop punishing us honest paying customers instead. I must have such an unholy mix of StarForce, SafeDisc, SecuROM, and a few other things shat by the bowels of Hell, that it's got to reach either critical mass or sentience one of these days and start WW3.
And of course half the uninstallers forget to take _that_ crap out.
Then there are all the non-game things that just have to try to keep themselves resident, load their DLL's or custom libraries deep in Windows, and whatever. Last time I installed even Mozilla or Open Office from scratch (admittedly, that was way back in 2.0 days), they just had to try to keep themselves resident in memory, to appear that they launch faster than the MS alternative. Using the user's few RAM as your own private RAM-Disk has got to be an acceptable substitute to optimizing your own freaking code to actually load faster. But nah, the user surely has nothing better to do with his RAM than to help with out willy-waving, and will gladly buy another gigabyte just to help one more incompetent company brag about loading faster than MS.
Or here's an idea: how about using the standard widgets of whatever OS and window manager you run on? Now that ought to shave off the time of loading yet another cutesy skinned UI.
And then there's stuff loaded apparently for my convenience, that is "mine" only if I happened to be a marketroid for one of those vendors. Like EA's auto-downloader trying to stay resident in the tray, for no other reason than that apparently they don't want to let me download patches with a browser. Sun's Java trying to stay resident in the tray, just so it can pester me with reminders to get the latest Java 1.6... when I'm deliberately trying to test code that _must_ run with Java 1.4. Etc.
And then there's the occasional screw-up like an older version of McAffee antivirus which, I swear to the elder gods, actually couldn't cope with being installed in another directory than the default. So the first update actually installed a second copy, at the default location, but let the old one active too. So suddenly I had two antiviruses stacked in memory, and of course uninstalling only removed one. Took some grumbling and digging through Windows innards, just to get rid of it.
Then there's the stuff which plants its bits so deep in Windows, that you almost have to kill the host to get the parasite out. Goa'uld style. And I'm not even talking actual viruses and trojans, but antiviruses, and the occasional program which just has to bombard you with ads at all times. (And I'm still not even talking proper malware. An older RealPlayer version did just that... and that's why it was the last version I ever tried.)
Then there's stuff which just has to add some unneeded functionality, apparently just because they can't trust the default Windows implementation to do its job. I'm talking stuff like Creative adding its own disk change detector, never mind that Windows's auto-play works perfectly well as it is. Or that if I disabled that, I don't want Creative automatically starting to play anything either.
Then there are all the tons of custom skinned widgets, libraries that I need just for one single program (yeah, I sooo always wanted a display driver that needs .Net, thank you ATI), etc.
It's just sad. It used to be that you needed a virus to get your computer to crawl, while your hard drive icon and modem LEDs blink like crazy. For the last decade increasingly you only need to install legit paid-for software.
In cazul meu, procentul e tocmai invers. In ultima jumatate de an Conficker/Downadup mi-au mancat zilele. Concluzia la care am ajuns este ca nici un antivirus/sntispyware/firewall nu compenseaza pentru necunoasterea utilizatorilor in exploatarea calculatorului.war4peace, e cruntul adevar. Eu la munca, imi petrec mai nou 70% din timpul alocat rezolvarii problemelor software cu probleme cauzate de antivirus, antispam, anticeva. 30% sunt probleme din cauza virusurilor sau alte probleme software.