We have long known that Sony’s laptops are seriously infested with crapware; they have got everything, including trial versions of Napster, Quickbooks, and Microsoft Office. In fact, when we did a crapware expose back in October of 2007 we found Sony to be one of the worst offenders; check out this chart. Sony had more preloaded software on its on its VGN-NR1160 than all the other systems in the tests. It had 1121.13 MB worth of crapware! When Sony comes along and says it will provide a completely clean system to customers, we think, wow we have done our job. However, according to Engadget, Sony’s new “fresh start” (read: crapware-free) option adds an extra $50 to the cost of your TZ2000 model laptop. They want their customers to pay extra money to guarantee they get a machine that works. We will let the rest of the blogosphere debate Sony’s ethics. Chances are Sony won’t budge; they lose money when they stop putting that trialware on new machines, so they figure they won’t lose that money when you give it to them instead by paying a $50 premium. Updated: Engadget is reporting that Sony has dropped the $50 fee. However, the “fresh start” option is still only offered on one model so the advice below still stands for all the Sony and non-Sony laptops that come filled with crapware. So what can you do? What we have been telling all along – take it off yourself! When I got my Sony FZ last year, PC Decrapifer was a good first step, but couldn’t take it all off. Trying these five tips, however, made my computer run like the wind: 1. Make the desktop yours. Don’t like the idea of being greeted with three full columns of trial-software icons and services on the desktop–not to mention a ton of programs loaded in the system tray–when you start your notebook? Start by using your touchpad to draw a highlight box around the useless desktop icons and then pressing the DEL key. Click Yes to confirm. Next, right-click anywhere on the desktop. Choose Personalize to remove any blatant advertising masquerading as desktop wallpaper. Also check the Vista dock–some PCs come with trial software that takes up prime screen real estate. 2. Check the Startup folder. Go to Start -> All Programs -> Startup. If there’s anything listed there that you don’t need, right-click on it and choose Delete to remove that icon from the Startup folder. 3. Dig in with msconfig. Click Start, type “msconfig” in the Run box, click Allow in the User Account Control dialog box, and then click the Startup tab. This will show you all the programs currently set to run on bootup. If anything looks useless, get rid of it. 4. Completely uninstall. Your system should be booting and responding more quickly already. The above steps took care of memory-resident programs, but that software is still on your hard drive–plus even more you haven’t seen yet. Go to Start -> Control Panel -> Uninstall a program. You’ll see a list of software installed on your machine. Google Desktop and Toolbar, McAfee Security Center trial, a 60-day Microsoft Office trial, Napster, Vongo, and a host of ISP offers are a few of the more obvious and common crapware programs you may see. To remove a program, click to highlight it. Then click the Uninstall button that appears above, and click Continue in the User Account Control box. Repeat the last two steps for every program you want to uninstall. You don’t need to reboot each time you’re prompted, but be sure to reboot once when you’re done. 5. Change the home pages. One of the more clever tricks of notebook manufacturers is to set three or four homepages in your Internet Explorer. When you launch Internet Explorer you may be directed, not only the notebook manufacturer’s site, but also to Norton’s site and Vongo. Disable this by clicking Tools, and then Internet Options. On the General tab, enter a new home page of your choice and delete all the others.