Windows has made a “comeback” with 8.1: Lenovo

PC vendor finds that the updated edition of Windows has been beneficial for its ThinkPad product line
The ThinkPad X240 comes with Windows 8 pre-installed, but Lenovo systems will feature Windows 8.1 starting from February

The ThinkPad X240 comes with Windows 8 pre-installed, but Lenovo systems will feature Windows 8.1 starting from February

The recently released Windows 8.1 is “light years ahead” of last year’s Windows 8, according to Lenovo Thinkpad product manager, Simon Kent.

Kent made the observation in relation to the local release Lenovo’s new 12.5” convertible Ultrabook, the ThinkPad Yoga.

“Microsoft has made a good comeback with 8.1, and they acknowledge that they didn’t get it right with 8,” he said.

“They have done a good job with 8.1 and it is definitely much better than before.”

As for how 8.1 improved the Windows experience, Kent said there are some “stark differences” in this year’s edition compared to 8.

“The speed to boot up is noticeably quicker, and the reliability, particularly on a touch screen, is noticeably better and more fluid,” he said.

“The customisability of the tiles, and how you can create your own blocks of tiles, is also much easier.”

Kent adds that there are also subtle differences that have improves the new Windows experience overall, which is a radical departure from past versions of the operating system.

As for how the market is reacting to Windows 8.1, Kent points to the performance of the ThinkPad Yoga in the Australian market, which began shipping one month ago.

“The proof is in how people are reacting to 8.1 is in the sales of the ThinkPad Yoga, and it is doing very well,” he said.

ThinkPad Yoga is the only Lenovo device Windows 8.1 is currently pre-installed on, and Kent said it is because the Ultrabook has a touch screen and there is no non-touch screen version available.

According to Kent, the ThinkPad Yogo is “doing well” in private education and the Channel is having a “field day with it,” and he attributes a part of that success to Windows 8.1 running natively.

“A lot of these schools have gone through this process of arduously testing it before they made the leap,” he said.

“Schools tend to be a bit more fastidious before they start the jump, particularly around operating systems.”

Creating the “perfect storm”

Kent is optimistic about the prospects for Windows 8.1 in 2014, particularly as Microsoft has announced its intention to stop supporting XP in April.

Lenovo’s recently released Ultrabook, the ThinkPad X240, comes with Windows 8 pre-installed, but Windows 8.1 is offered as a free download to all users.

According to Kent, Lenovo is expected to start installing Windows 8.1 natively across all of its systems from February.

Combined with the looming Windows XP deadline, Kent expects this to create a “perfect storm” for both Microsoft and PC vendors such as Lenovo.

“Once we start shipping Windows 8.1 native across all of the systems, the April deadline will be an attractive time point for companies to switch over to a new version of Windows,” he said.

“We are expecting that to create a spike in demand in the first half of 2014.”

In the meantime, Lenovo will push the ThinkPad X240 domestically, which Kent dubs as the “thinnest and lightest ThinkPad laptop available from Lenovo” at the moment.

The notebook comes with a fourth generation “Haswell” Intel Core i7 processor, up to one terabyte of storage, and a 12.5 inch Full HD display option with touch capability.

The ThinkPad X240 is available now starting from $1,799.

Patrick Budmar covers consumer and enterprise technology breaking news for IDG Communications. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_budmar.