The stickers work in three ways.
First, they tell consumers what's inside the PC, and the well-known brand names are meant to inspire confidence.
Second, they show that the PC manufacturer has met the requirements of a logo programme. Some of these are commercial but they can be useful. For example, the Windows 7 logo programme required PC makers to make sure these systems ran 64-bit Windows 7. This eased the transition from mainly 32-bit to mainly 64-bit sales. (See below.)
Third, PC manufacturers get some sort of kickback for using stickers, generally in the form of support for advertising or promotions. (In other words, Microsoft and Intel will pay part of the cost of advertising the product on TV or in magazines, as long as the sticker logos are shown.)
PC manufacturers can, of course, design PCs however they like, with any specifications they like, and they can install any software they like. Apple does. So can any manufacturer who wants to ship Unix/Linux/Android/whatever machines, or sticker-free Windows machines.
Microsoft and Intel cannot tell PC manufacturers what to do.
However, they can and do use the logo programmes to ensure minimum specifications, improve the quality of components, and encourage the use of preferred techologies. (With Windows 7, these included a 64-bit OS, Bluetooth v2.1, PCi Wireless Host Controllers, Wake on LAN and other things.) These benefit consumers and promote compatibility without preventing PC manufacturers from innovating.
So they do perform useful functions.
And if you don't like the stickers, they are designed to peel off. (Source)AMDs research shows that consumers hate the stickers (duh). But they're not going away, for one simple reason: There’s big money involved. Intel, Microsoft, Skype and whoever else is represented by the stickers actually pay the computer companies for the billboard space. That’s why HP, for example, would tolerate gumming up its laptops' good looks with crass ads. Apple refuses to put Intel stickers on its computers, even though there’s Intel inside. In doing so, it leaves millions of dollars a year on the table. (Source)
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