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If you decide to take advantage of the free trial, woe be unto you when the trial ends. The makers of antivirus software have an army of designers, an endless supply of blood-red pixels, and copywriters skilled in the art of scaring the crap out of you.
Here are two examples I saw on a Sony notebook after the Norton trial ended. (A later dialog box included a "Stay Unprotected" option. Classic!) Notice again that there's no way to make the warnings stop. With persistence, you can hide the current warning, but there's no information on how to uninstall the expired program and replace it with something else.
This Samsung notebook includes the CyberLink DVD Suite, which prompts you for your name and e-mail address every time you start up—with, naturally, two options: Register Now or Remind Me Later. The software offers basic capabilities already available in Windows (and in free Windows Live programs like Movie Maker). But you'll run into hard blocks as soon as you try to move beyond those basic capabilities.
If you try to save a video file in anything other than WMV or AVI format, or if you choose the option to burn a DVD or save a file for use with an iPod, you'll see a dialog box like this one. The constant appeals to upgrade must wear some people down. But if you don't want to pay, take my advice and ditch this nuisanceware.
It seems like every PC maker wants to reinvent the wheel. Or, in this case, the Control Panel.
Sony calls this the VAIO Control Center. It's a hodgepodge of settings dialog boxes that mostly duplicate functions already in Windows. Here, for example, you can choose a "Thermal Control Strategy." If these options seem oddly familiar to those in the Power Options Control Panel, well, that's because they are absolutely identical. Sony isn't alone among laptop makers in offering unnecessary utilities, unfortunately. In fact, this is one of the cleaner, less intrusive ones I found.