updated 09:25 am EDT, Fri March 21, 2008
Sony Fresh Start
Sony has begun offering Fresh Start, a controversial practice to clean its systems of unnecessary software. Initially available only with the VAIO TZ ultraportable, the option removes both VAIO-specific programs as well as games and other trial software. The practice is meant to "free up valuable hard drive space and conserve memory and processing power" before the system ever leaves the factory, according to Sony.
However, the offer has already received criticism for its $50 cost, which lifts the price of the system despite restoring the performance that would be present with a default installation of Windows. The practice has often led to unusually long boot times and slower systems and, in 2007, saw Wall Street Journal columnist Walt Mossberg referring to preloaded trial applications as "craplets" for their tendency to ruin a user's experience.
Sony has historically responded by noting that the inclusion of trial software helps subsidize the cost of the system, which would normally climb upwards with a clean system. The PC builder has also claimed that roughly one third of its buyers use at least some of the bundled trial software. However, rivals such as Dell have in recent months offered higher-end systems without such software by default, instead rolling any costs for a clean install into the normal system price.
Apple as well as a handful of other PC vendors have touted clean systems as a performance and feature advantage over more common challengers.