How do I get bloatware off a new laptop with no physical media?
December 27, 2009 11:28 PM   Subscribe

I'm about to buy a Sony Vaio for my sister. However, I hate bloatware and want to start her off with a fresh clean install. How do I do it?

I know the Vaio laptop comes with no physical Win 7 DVD or other recovery discs. Is it possible to torrent or acquire a retail version of Win 7 and use the Vaio's license key to do a clean reinstall of Win 7. Does anyone have any experience doing this or know how I can accomplish this?
posted by InvestorMD to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Unless I miss my guess, you'll not be able to use that key with a retail version -- in XP they had at least seven types of keys -- XP Home retail, XP Home OEM, XP Pro Home retail and OEM, blah blah blah, I don't remember the other three. But I'd bet M$ carried that on.

There is a sweet piece of software you can run, first thing, right out of the box, and pull a lot of the junk off of the machine, I'd bet there's a WIN7 version of it... hmmm (sound of googling)

HEY! A bit of googling to find the de-crapifyer software brought the following from this page--

[4] Uninstalling Pre-Installed Software
Some (or most) new computers are shipped to customers with al sorts of pre-installed programs. These programs can be annoying, can be time-limited, can eat up valuable hard disc space, decrease your computer's speed, and more. Many users want to remove all (or some) of these programs but that can sometimes be rather problematic. Some programs are especially designed to remove or uninstall a specific list of this pre-installed software.

[01] The PC Decrapifier > List > Info > Tool
new! [02] Sony Vaio > List > Info > Tool

I can vouch for the decrapifyer software, check around on the VAIO removal software online..
posted by dancestoblue at 11:46 PM on December 27, 2009 [3 favorites]

I think I'd be satisfied with uninstalling any demo or crapware, and cleaning up the start menu/desktop. If you do a clean install, you might lose some of the computer-specific features, which might be annoying. Plus it'll eat a lot more time, and I don't think the benefits are great.
posted by alexei at 11:48 PM on December 27, 2009

Best answer: I agree with alexei and others. You definitely want to hold off on wiping something like a VAIO. The least of your problems are the handful of VAIO specific keyboard keys that will cease to function (things like volume controls and display brightness) if you do a clean install of Windows 7.

I would remove the more insidious things like the (and here I'm making up names for crappy pre-installed crap) "Norton Smart Stop AntiVirus Eradicator Free Trial" and "Sony Home Start Center Media Creation Suite".

De-crapify but don't do a clean OS install. It's not worth the trouble.
posted by plasticbugs at 1:11 AM on December 28, 2009

My wife just got a VAIO, no install DVD like you... mixed results here. Decrapifier did not turn up much, and I spent a full day figuring out what was what. Uninstalling stuff took ages, and I ended up leaving a lot on there that I think is unessential but was not completely sure.
After running it for a few weeks, I removed a couple more things, but did not notice any software eating up a lot of resources.
Just any Win7 install with the VAIO product key is almost certainly not going to work. I'd second alexei in just uninstalling demo stuff, cleaning up the desktop and removing things as you noticed they don't get used in the first weeks of use.

Off topic: I wish Sony (and other mnfs, although my Dell arrived a lot cleaner than the Vaio) would just offer the option to leave all that crap off. I'd even be willing to pay say $20 for a clean, lean install.
posted by gijsvs at 1:18 AM on December 28, 2009

Heres my thoughts on this issue as a multigeneration Vaio user:

1. Do not reinstall from scartch, it is not worth it. De-crapify as much as you can and then try and then mercilessly switch off autostart programs using config.sys or any other method of your preference.

2. A tip for you: try to install the stuff you need and also read for some useful information.

3. Once happy, please, please make and image of the hard drive when it is brand new. Leave one copy on a partition and another on a USB drive/DVD which you save for the next time you have to deal with this problem. If your wife is like my wife it is you who will have to do the heavy lifting ;)

Good luck
posted by london302 at 1:33 AM on December 28, 2009

Couple more help links here and here, both help sites have pretty much the same recommendations, using two pieces of software, one which I can vouch for (CCleaner -- this is a great piece of freeware) and one I cannot (Autoruns, which I've never used, might be great, nose around the internet and see if you get any good reports, or bad ones).

Was it me, I'd download the decrapifyer software from their homepage and CCleaner from filehippo (great freeware collaborator site) and use as recommended on those two pages and then see how things look, take it from there; I say this because I've had good luck with both of these pieces of freeware.

Good luck.
posted by dancestoblue at 2:00 AM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Also depends where you buy the Vaio and what model. My wife just bought her new Vaio notebook two weeks ago, configure-to-order on the Sony style site. The configuration had options to not include all that extra software crap.

And you know what? When it came, it pretty much didn't have any extra software crap.
posted by mdevore at 3:02 AM on December 28, 2009

Call Support and ask if you can customize the factory reload.
posted by Rubbstone at 4:08 AM on December 28, 2009

Came in here to suggest the same thing as dancestoblue, so read that one for advice.
posted by deezil at 4:44 AM on December 28, 2009

Is it possible to torrent or acquire a retail version of Win 7 and use the Vaio's license key to do a clean reinstall of Win 7.

First off, retail keys and OEM keys are different and the installers will not accept them. Secondly, any software from a torrent source has a high chance of having at least a trojan in it. Trading the Sony apps for a trojan seems like a bad idea to me.

I've played with a few new Sony's in the past and they arent crawling with junk like Lenovo. Spend some time removing the apps and dont worry about it so much. While youre in there, get any driver and BIOS updates from Sony.

Also, I dont recommend playing around too much in there. Ive had to fix machines that have had the dhcp service turned off or the UAC disabled, which only led to problems later on. Leave the default MS services and apps as is.

Lastly, Id be very hesitant to run any third-party decrapifier app.

I'd even be willing to pay say $20 for a clean, lean install.

Dell Vostros are like this. They come with a minimum of third-party utilities.

The least of your problems are the handful of VAIO specific keyboard keys that will cease to function

Only if you dont install the proper driver from the Sony website.
posted by damn dirty ape at 6:30 AM on December 28, 2009

I used to have a Viao, and things may have changed since then, but mine came with no recovery media what-so-ever. However, for $20, Sony would send you a DVD that would do a complete system restore, which includes all the crapware along with the drivers.

Sony, and Laptops in general, are totally ridiculous when it comes to this sort of thing. All of the non-standard hardware in Laptops requires this terrible, terrible bloatware so you're stuck there.

When I had my Viao, however, I did do a clean install (of Windows XP at the time). I had a friend who had the exact same model, so when it came time to install the drivers, I mounted his system32 drive over the network and pointed my copy of Windows at his machine and it dutifully copied over everything it needed, which got all the devices going (except the audio, which I was never able to get working). So, in theory, you could take the drive out and plug it into another machine and do an xcopy of the entire %windir% directory tree and then put it back in the laptop, do a clean install, and install drivers over the network from the second machine. But you had better know what you're doing.

You will not be able to use whatever CD key came with your machine for Windows. Those OEM keys DO NOT WORK. Microsoft disabled them after people started going around to libraries and universities and copying the CD key printed on the machines and using them to sell counterfeit copies of Windows. Instead the real key is embedded in the machines BIOS and will only work with that particular OEM sku*. Do not torrent a copy of Win 7; that would be a huge security risk as you have no idea what it will be infected with and it will be infected.

Your best bet

* This sentence may be factually in-accurate due to my fallible memory, or facts on the ground may have changed since I worked at MSFT and had this conversation with the Genuine Advantage guy.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:48 AM on December 28, 2009

(oops) to just use Programs and Features control panel to uninstall whatever you don't want.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:49 AM on December 28, 2009

with success I have reformatted my hp laptop with random windows 7 disc and the license code on the back of the computer. As long as you install the same version as what you payed for. Make sure you have all of the necessary drivers before you reformat.
posted by nuke3ae at 11:04 AM on December 28, 2009

The last VAIO I bought (I've had a number of them) from the sonystyle web site had an option, for free, to not install crap on it. It was a checkbox near the end of the ordering process. They had a catchy name for it like "Fresh Start" or something.

And lo and behold there was no bloatware on it. (It even came with a free Windows XP downgrade disk which I eventually used. Vista wasn't making me happy.)

From my past experiences with VAIO's you do not want to do a "naked" install, especially on a laptop. You will end up with a great number of driver problems and a lot of features you've just paid a lot of money for will stop working. Or if you do get them working it will take a large amount of your time and all of your patience.
posted by Ookseer at 11:38 AM on December 28, 2009

If at all possible, I would avoid buying the Sony Vaio.

(Feel free to MeMail me for laptop recommendations or reasons why)
posted by capitalist.pig at 2:59 PM on December 28, 2009

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