3/24/08
8:35 am

Fresh Start Macs?

If you have never bought a Windows machine, then you have missed out. That is, you’ve missed out on getting a machine packed with trial versions of software that you most likely don’t want.
Windows users frequently complain about this. They get a new machine that already has lots of desktop icons linking to Internet services and trial software. Some pieces of software are installed right down to the system level, so performance of the machine is already reduced under the burden of extra processes running. Even after uninstalling this software, the only way to get that “fresh clean feeling” is to wipe the drive and re-install Windows. Many people do this.
But Sony added an option to one of it’s Vaio laptops to order it with no trial software. It is called the “Fresh Start” option. But the catch is, it cost $50. That’s right, $50 to get less on your machine. People complained, and after one day, Sony started offering this for free.
Actually, I didn’t think the $50 was that bad. Maybe a little high. But I knew that manufacturers make some money from this trial software. Companies offer them cash to install their software on machines so they can get the trial versions in front of potential users. In turn, one can assume, manufacturers can keep prices for hardware low. There has even been speculation that machines sell at a loss from time to time because the manufacturers make their money from trial software installs.
So the idea of getting a clean machine for, say, $25 more, isn’t that bad. But free is better, I guess. Dell has offered a clean install of Windows on some higher end machines before as well. I guess they figure someone buying a $4000 game machine isn’t going to be signing up for AOL anyway.
So how about Macs? Is this a problem for us? We do get some trial software. Microsoft Office comes on every new Mac as a 30-day trial. Also, iWork. I’ve seen links to ISP sign-up pages as desktop icons in the past, but not recently.
These seem pretty easy to uninstall. Just drag and drop the applications to the trash. And that might be a good idea is you never intend to purchase them. I’ve seen Microsoft Word launch itself when a unknowing user double-clicks on a .doc file they got in an email. What they really want is for TextEdit to open the file, but instead they get the trial version of Word launching.
Still, we’ve got it good. Apple has protected us from the scourge of trial software for the most part. They’ve got an interest in keeping OS X fresh and clean. Microsoft has a similar interest in keeping Windows fresh and clean, but then it is not Microsoft adding this junk, it is the PC manufacturers. In the case of Apple, they are both the producer of the OS, and the hardware manufacturer. And that has made all the difference.