Software packages do not tend to grow in size as quickly as the size of hard disk drives do. The latter tend to double in size every 30 months or so. Entry level hard drives are now 40GB and they will soon be superseded by 80GB model.
That's a lot of space, which means that a few manufacturers have started to view hard disk space as virtual estates, waiting to be populated.
This is probably why computer manufacturers are increased the number of trial software on these computers. Cnet evokes the problem caused by those ‘subsidized’ computer packages whereby computer manufacturers are paid commission for each application sold.
Pre-loading the hard disk drives has a number of advantages and can represent a very lucrative deal if done right. Dell for example sells nearly 40 million computers annually. A 1% conversion represents still 400,000 potential customers.
Dell's latest deal with search giant Google is probably the first of a number of such deals, much to the chagrin of Microsoft which had enjoyed a quasi-monopoly until then.