You got my 'meaning/reason' for my append correct. DISCUSSION points and points to disagree on.
My background is a developer, of PC and other computer types code, since retired.
BLOATWARE can be considered either un-needed components (all 'suites' will have this) or POORLY written code.
Your first link above was about 'Apple', but it does pertain. That one calls 'bloatware' essentially what I said Norton ISS has, components one will not or care not to use.
Your second one talks about a different type of 'bloat', programs running that you may not need.
There is actually a 3rd type too, code that becomes part of an EXE loaded into RAM. This happens when the 'swiss-army knife' program is created, that is one EXE that runs on more than one OS version and has code that branches to different part depending on version. Also in-efficient code or code left in that can never be executed, a big problem when updating old code that served versions no longer supported.
The first type, the 'mult-tasker', a 'swiss-army knife' can become the 3rd type too eventually.
However, the second talks about removing programs not needed and re-installing (clean) the OS. I look at that sort of differently, and I am NOT a fan of clean installs to 'fix' problems. Many people have invested years on their PC and the task of restoring what is really needed (if one can locate all the install media, licenses, and data files even) is daunting and maybe impossible and time consuming.
When one looks at a suite with many features, the amount of RAM used to activate a feature is miniscule if one doesn't want the feature. The feature will take disk space generally, but for many, this is NOT a problem. Now if the feature is loaded into RAM, that is true bloatware and a problem if it forces swapping.
Why did the 2nd link say re-install (clean)? Because it gets EVERY last bit of additions, needed or not, off the computer. As one uses a computer, the Registry grows, and programs and device drivers are installed, as well as disk space consumed.
This creates 3 distinct problems :
1) As the Registry grows, boot time usually declines. Can you 'tell' how much, probably not, milliseconds for each program or device added. Use the system and MRU's (Most Recently Used) and History items fill the registry. Yes, the registry is basically a Partitioned Database, but the OS still had to read disk sectors to get to items it needs. This is time. Registry cleaners all report these items as removable, and they are without 'damage' other than you'll lose those item is pull-down lists generally, but they will be put back in as soon as you use a browser or other application. Removing them also doesn't recover the space on disk, a Registry Defrag will. However that is a bandaid usually as the Registry will again grow and be defragmented.
2) Adding programs besides taking Disk Space (again, most newer computers have larger hard drives where disk space is sufficient for most people that this is not a problem) will insert auto-runs or services. Some add tasks. That alone will slow a system down and in some cases consume RAM that could cause swapping and slowness. Worse, not all 'un-installs' will take out all the parts. One could wind up with services started that never have anything to do (think of the FAX services that is probably loaded on most computers that have no FAX capability) and consume RAM. Same goes for device drivers loaded but remain after removing the application. This is even worse when one switches h/w, say change a display adapter, not every one removes the drivers for it. No matter, it gets loaded and does nothing. MS is even part of this, but for a good reason. The VGA driver is the last video driver loaded. Good reason though, if you do not have a video driver loaded you couldn't see anything, so they load the VGA driver on boot. It unloads itself if there already is one I recall. Good safety net, but it does take some time to load as well as RAM space to execute.
3) Removing programs creates 'holes' in the disk. That means the next program might be placed further away on the disk and that means to load it, the head has to travel further. Larger the hard drive, the longer it 'could' take. Now Vista later versions do run CHKDSK automatically 'fixing' this problem, but not XP. Still, no CHKDSK is smart enough to put files (other than MS does sort of handle OS load with pre-fetch) required by programs next to each other. SSD's could care less about this, and in the coming years as they proliferate this will become a non-problem too.
The 'advantage' of suites or multitask'ers is that they are 'known' to work together and are integrated. They get updated at the same time. Let's say you decide to use 2 vendors for the A/V and FW. Normally on boot these will check to see if updates are available. Now you have 2 processes getting loaded and trying to get out and possibly vying for CPU, Internet, and Disk cycles to update, vs. only a single process doing this. Disk cycles, well, instead of one doing twice as much you might have 2 trying to do 1/2 as much at the same time... which would you prefer (if you could see the performance 'hit')? Also 2 things to try and remove completed (try is the operative word here) vs. one as you change vendors.
I worry about protection and how well 2 vendors will get along. Worst part, one doesn't really know or realize when they are being 'held down' by a bad set of choices. There is NO set of choices that is correct either, as you can see by some of the numbers that were in some of the links I posted. This isn't about programs or A/V's and FW's only either. H/W has the same problems... for instance, who makes the fastest video card at a specific price point? Can you as a user actually recognize the 'speed' and tell one from the other in actual use? Same thing.
What works works. Can you tell if it is the BEST and LEAST EXPENSIVE... and I think those two are MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE. I can tell which is LEAST EXPENSIVE if you look at PRICE only, but once you reach FREE there are a lot of competitor. However when you use that term for overall 'load', that being speed of booting (load), scanning, updating, that term gets very murky when you try to couple that with BEST. On a quad-core or better found on todays machines with gobs of RAM and SSD's I suspect you could even tell the difference between many choices but you sure can on a 1GHz single core CPU you probably can easily too. Speed kills and also masks 'problems'.
Oh, some called 'crapware', what computer vendors stuff onto a computer you buy, usually limited use or partial versions of s/w, bloatware too.
Let the debate continue (if the moderators allow).