Sony has introduced a new "Fresh Start" custom configuration feature for selected Vaio TZ notebook computer models: for an extra $50, Sony won’t install so-called bloatware: trial software, games, and even some of Sony’s own applications.
The Fresh Start option is currently only available to customer already paying an additional $100 to upgrade the Vaios’ systems from Windows Vista Home Premium to Windows Vista Business. Customers choosing to pay for the Fresh Start option won’t get a 60-day trial of Sony’a Vaio Creation Suite Photo Software, a 30-day trial of Corel Paint Shop Pro, a free version of QuickBooks Simple that supports up to 20 customers, and a Click to Disc video editor. Customers will also miss out on Microsoft Works SE 9.0 and a 60-day trial of Microsoft Office.
Sony claims the $50 fee covers the cost of removing the software from its predefined configurations before shipping the unit to a customer; however, it’s also likely the cost covers revenue Sony might lose from its partners by omiting the software. Software developers often pay computer manufacturers to include demo or trial version of their software with their machines, reasoning the users are more likely to try (and buy) and application that’s already installed on a new machine than to attempt to install and try out software on their own. However, many of these software packages aren’t wanted by consumers, and have collectively been branded "bloatware"—software that comes on a computer, takes up disk space, and may even slow down the system or cause compatibility problems.
Dell and Everex offer inexpensive systems with no trial software pre-installed, and Dell offers customers the option to opt-out of most pre-installed third-party software on selected models.
[Update: Sony now says it will offer the Fresh Start option free of charge beginning March 22. "We want Vaio users to have the best experience possible with our PCs, and we believe Fresh Start will help ensure that happens right out-of-the-box," the company said in a statement via email. Sony representatives have not yet responded to queries about whether any customers who paid for Fresh Start will receive a refund or some other compensation.]