Paul Miller at Engadget has a screen shot from the Sony online store demonstrating a new height in chutzpah:
Sony has quite the history of crippling excellent, beautiful hardware with horrible, useless software. The company’s UX UMPC bluescreened on us the first time we turned it on, and crashed the first time we tried to shut it down thanks to all the bloatware on it, while a Laptop Mag review says their Vaio TZ ran “as if it were broken” before they managed to wipe it clean. Lucky for us, it appears Sony is finally seeing the error of its ways, but instead of removing the crapware altogether, Sony has the nerve to offer a $50 “Fresh Start” option, which “scrubs” the machine clean before shipping it your way.
Actually it’s only the Vaio TZ2000 notebook that can be ordered crapware-free right now, but it is likely a sign of things to come.
Unlike many commentators, I sympathize with the OEM PC manufacturers and understand that the money they make by preloading trial software (AKA “crapware” or “bloatware”) applications is key to profitability in the low margin PC business – yes, that $50 is very important to the bottom line. However, there’s no excuse for buggy and incompatible applications infesting a new machine. Thumbs down to Sony until they get their act together.
Update: Responding to a firestorm of criticism, Sony has removed the $50 fee, but will offer the “Fresh Start” option only on some systems:
Fresh Start will now be a no-cost option on Sony’s slick subnotebooks, but only for those who opt for Windows Vista Business Edition, a $100 upgrade.
Ed Bott, who coincidentally had been trying to resuscitate two crapware laden Sony systems, has more including this quote from Mike Abary, Senior Vice President of the VAIO division:
“We heard the message loud and clear,” Abary told me. “VAIO is the poster child for negative experiences people had [with trialware]. We recognize that, and we acknowledge it. We’ve been really beat up by this issue. We’re listening and we’re taking action.”
Good for Sony.