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Sony plan to charge for clean Vaios backfires

Late last week, Sony started offering US shoppers looking to buy a Vaio laptop PC online the option to have it customised by removing the dozens of trial programs and little-used vanity applications that typically come with a new Windows computer.

Only problem is, it was charging $50 (£25) to do a little housecleaning – something that was akin to asking for extra cash just to provide a usable computer instead of one with the normal bloated Windows installation.

Come Sunday, however, and acres of negative press coverage have seen Sony quietly drop the ‘Fresh Start’ charge.

Back-door charges

American shoppers at Sony Style now have the option to choose “a system optimization service where specific VAIO applications, trial software and games are removed from [the] unit prior to shipment” at absolutely no cost. Gasp – what generosity!

However, a closer look at the rest of the build-to-order options reveals that the free Fresh Start is available only to customers choosing Windows Vista Business, which costs $100 (£50) over the Home Premium edition anyway.

Moreover, going for the pared-down installation also bars customers from benefiting from plenty of software they might actually want at OEM prices, such as MS Works and QuickBooks Simple Start. Sigh – swings and roundabouts, anyone?