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This screenshot documents what I saw shortly after I opened Internet Explorer on a freshly set up HP notebook. It's just so full of fail that it's hard to know where to begin.
There's the HP-branded Bing toolbar, with a search box and a Facebook icon. And then, right below it, there's another toolbar, from Ask.com, with its own search box and its own Facebook button. The Favorites bar has HP and Amazon shortcuts, both of which are duplicated in other toolbars. And the home page is an HP store just filled with offers to sell me software.
Is it any wonder that Internet Explorer just threw up its hands and decided to stop working?
Every laptop I looked at has its own updater program. In a perfect world, it would concentrate on things like device drivers and BIOS updates. This is, alas, not a perfect world.
Sony's updater, shown here, makes a bold promise when you first use it: "VAIO Update helps to keep your VAIO tuned for optimum performance." But the four updates shown here are just for the unnecessary stuff included with the PCs. For some strange reason, you have to click the New Software button to learn that there's an updated graphics driver and a second update for the included Blu-ray playback software. If you update manually, each updater launches a separate installer that requires you to select your language from an alphabetical list, and doesn't remember your previous choice or take any hints from your system settings.
Windows includes a Recovery option in Control Panel. In addition to the Windows Backup and Restore options, it allows OEMs to give customers the ability to restore their original Windows installation. If you've made it this far, you are probably not surprised that Sony doesn't use this option.
Instead, it buries the Recover options in yet another Control Panel alternative called VAIO Care. If you choose the Recover Computer option, you can wipe out your existing installation and use the recovery partition to put your system back exactly the way it was when you first unwrapped the PC, complete with trialware. What's noteworthy about Sony's implementation of this option is how clunky and slow it is. A clean installation of Windows takes about 20 minutes, as does a restore from a saved system image. Sony's approach takes well over two hours, and there's no way to skip the unwanted software.