The latest installment of my saga with a Sony Vaio is up at ZDNet now:
If I had bought a machine that worked as poorly as this Sony Vaio, I would have returned it right away, but I’m glad I was able to fix it. And I really hope more OEMs will realize how much crapware sucks. In the case of this Sony Vaio, the biggest irony was the startup message saying "ThirdPartyAppMgr has stopped working." When you can’t even get your crapware installed correctly, it’s time to rethink your process:
One Windows Vista feature that I like a lot is the setup process, which is far more customer-friendly than ever before. With XP, you need to have a product key to complete setup. Without a key, setup just stops. If you have an XP system from an OEM that doesn’t supply Windows reinstallation media but instead uses a recovery partition, you’re completely screwed, because the product key on the side of your case will only work with media built for your system.
By contrast, with Vista you can borrow retail or OEM installation media for any system, do a clean install without a product key, and then take up to 30 days to activate over the phone using the product key on the side of the case. It’s still not the most elegant solution, but it’s a vast improvement over the XP way.