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Sony backtracks on bloatware removal fee

Online backlash causes u-turn

Sony has backtracked on its scheme to charge $49.99 (£25) to remove trial software from hard disks of new laptops.

As of last Saturday, Sony's Fresh Start software optimisation feature is free, the company announced.

Fresh Start is a Sony feature that lets customers buy certain laptops without so-called 'bloatware', trial software that laptop makers often load on to new machines. Sony was asking buyers of the Vaio TZ2000 and Vaio TZ2500 laptops with the Windows Vista Business OS to pay $49.99 for the removal of the extra software. Those customers already pay an additional $100 (£50) to upgrade to Windows Vista Business OS from Windows Vista Home Premium.

Following the uproar, which erupted online on Friday in response to the fee, Sony has decided to offer the option for free.

"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.

Sony earlier justified the fee by saying it covers removal of the unwanted software before shipment.

Fresh Start is only available to buyers of the two Vaio customisable machines.

Customers opting for Sony's Fresh Start could miss out on software including Microsoft Works, bundled with a trial version of Microsoft Office; Sony's Vaio Creation Suite Photo Software with a Corel Paint Shop Pro trial version; the Click to Disc video editor WinDVD; and an edition of QuickBooks Simple Start that tracked only 20 customers.

Software publishers often pay PC manufacturers to include trial versions on computers they ship. Bloatware, as it is also known, can reduce system performance and available hard disk space, and take away system resources. It could also affect office productivity by introducing security vulnerabilities, and bloatware games can distract workers.

Dell last year offered the removal of bloatware from its Vostro line of PCs. Everex is also among a few vendors that offer PCs with the option to remove bloatware.


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