….. I’m talking about two main problems. One is the plethora of teaser software and advertisements for products that must be cleared and uninstalled to make way for your own stuff. The second is the confusing welter of security programs you have to master and update, even on a virgin machine.
I’m also referring to how slowly a new Windows Vista machine starts and restarts, even if you haven’t yet loaded or launched any of your own software.
I am not singling out Sony here. I would have had a similar experience if I had chosen, say, a Hewlett-Packard laptop. Most major PC makers feature the security programs and trial software and offers I encountered on my new Sony. They are not part of Vista itself.
The problem is a lack of respect for the consumer. The manufacturers don’t act as if the computer belongs to you. They act as if it is a billboard for restricted trial versions of software and ads for Web sites and services that they can sell to third-party companies who want you to buy these products.
I’m distinguishing these programs, sometimes called “craplets,” from the full-featured, built-in Sony software meant to enhance the computer, or from entire, useful programs Microsoft builds into Windows, such as music and photo organizers.
On my new Sony, there were two dozen trial programs and free offers. The desktop alone contained four icons representing come-ons for various America Online services, and two for Microsoft. The start menu and program menu had more items that I neither chose nor wanted. Napster, a music service I don’t use, was lodged at the lower right of the screen.
The worst was a desktop icon called “Watch Hit Movies Now!” This turned out to be four full-length films from Sony’s movie studios, which the company had preloaded onto my computer at the cost of more than four gigabytes of precious hard-disk space. But they aren’t a gift. If you want to play them, you have to pay Sony.
Then there was the security-software mess……
I also was shocked at how long this machine took to restart and to do a cold start after being completely shut down. Restarting took over three minutes, and a cold start took more than two minutes. That suggests the computer is loading a bunch of stuff I neither know about nor want. By contrast, a brand new Apple MacBook laptop, under the same test conditions, restarted in 34 seconds and did a cold start in 29 seconds.
As they say, read the whole thing.
Mossberg didn’t note that newer Intel-based machines, in combination with Vista, enable a very deep sleep mode that, as I understand it, is withing striking distance of being a reboot, and that a PC can awaken from very deep sleep in just a few seconds. That “should” mean less frequent need to shut down or restart the machine.
But Mossberg’s point about craplets and trial-software overkill is a good one — so good that Microsoft openly worried when Vista was launched that craplets would hold back new system sales or cause system malfunctions.
It would appear that the best solution would for consumers to insist on getting craplet-free machines, but it seems that it will will take thousands of walk-aways before anyone would do something about it.