I also bought a passport essential 500gb unknowing about the problem with the smartware software that you can’t delete. My cousin has had one for about two years, and it didn’t come with the smartware!
I have tried everything to get rid of it including dissasembling the hard drive and using a magnet to completely erase the magnetic disks. This removed everything - partition, formatting, etc. but not the smartware software. I DON’T want a drive that asked me to install a program to every computer I plug it in to. Funny, most software companys wont let you do that!
My drive still works, but I will not install the software. I will not use it until I can figure out a way to remove the software!
Like many of you talked about doing, I went and bought a Seagate 500gb. It came with software also but it is easily removable, and the drive is much faster that WD Passport.
My recomendation is go with Seagate.