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3/6/2013
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Windows 8 Convertible: My 3-Month Test Drive

The CEO of a small translation business shares her lessons learned in three months using a Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga Windows 8 convertible.

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CEO Terena Bell first became interested in Microsoft's Windows 8 for a timeless reason: It was good-looking.

"My employees laughed [because] I told them that the computer reminded me of George Clooney -- you just kind of look and say: Ooh, I want that," Bell said in an interview. "It just looked so wonderful in the commercials."

But Bell's not in show business. Her seven-person company, In Every Language, is in the global translation industry. Windows 8 couldn't just skate by on a handsome face. It had to get results.

Bell's business case for Windows 8 was relatively straightforward. She and two of her employees are on the road up to three weeks every month, and the travel is often international. Bell was looking for a single piece of hardware that was both lightweight and versatile, able to handle a rigorous workload and also the long-form content creation best-suited for a traditional laptop or desktop. The latter requirement, according to Bell, is a key reason why Apple's iPad hasn't become a go-to business tool in her industry. Another is that the industry is largely Windows-based.

[ Want more on Lenovo's Windows 8 offerings? Read CES 2013: Lenovo Bets Big On Windows 8. ]

When Microsoft's marketing machine kicked into high gear around the launch of Windows 8, Bell took note. Beyond the Clooney-esque appeal, she was intrigued by the growing number of convertible devices -- part laptop or ultrabook, part tablet -- hitting the market, including Microsoft's own Surface Pro. There were several substantive reasons that a convertible model -- sometimes dubbed a hybrid or transformer -- and its built-in keyboard seemed like a great fit for Bell's needs. That was all the more true because she's not a fan of having multiple computers and mobile devices to fit multiple needs.

For one, Bell's a self-professed workaholic, and there are some times and places where an open laptop is a tad awkward -- like while you're standing on an airplane on-ramp waiting to board your flight. "I don't know if you've ever tried to board a plane with your laptop open but it's very, very cumbersome," Bell said. "The stewardesses and the gate agent yell at you. It's [also] quite easy to break the monitor that way."

A convertible's ability to resemble both the laptop and the tablet in different modes appeared to be the answer. "If I could just flip it around to tablet mode and then keep on working, I wouldn't have to turn it off until we were getting ready to take off," Bell said. "That's five, 10, 15 more minutes of work I can get [done]. That's the utilitarian reason why I wanted it."

The Clooney factor had a business purpose, too: Bell believed a Windows 8 convertible would pack serious star power in sales meetings, conferences and other kinds of public and private meetings. The translation industry generally stays current with technology, according to Bell, and appearances sometimes matter. "I thought it would impress our clients to walk in with the latest technology," she said.

So Bell took the plunge. She knew she wanted a full version of Windows 8, and she quickly ruled out Surface RT and other devices running RT. Still, Bell found the hardware choices confusing and difficult to find reliable reviews on; ultimately, her purchase decision was driven by an attractive deal. Like many small businesses, she bought at retail. She seized upon an online Black Friday offer to purchase Lenovo's IdeaPad Yoga 13, which typically runs upward of $1,000. Bell resisted the urge to go ahead and buy one for each of her employees in spite of a good deal, catching herself by surprise -- while the CEO said her firm is doing well and can afford the technology it needs, she remains frugal when it comes to capital expenditures and rarely passes up a discount. But she wanted to test the Yoga herself for several months to ensure it would get the job done. If the CEO deemed it up to snuff, it would become the single device of choice for the firm's two other road warriors, if not the entire staff.

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kinect_dev
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kinect_dev,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/7/2013 | 1:44:41 PM
re: Windows 8 Convertible: My 3-Month Test Drive
Unfortunately I'm going to have to call foul on this one, Elon Musk style. The three main arguments for why the author thinks Windows 8 is "not ready for prime time" are all flawed. Sure, there are problems with Windows 8 but the author managed to miss all of them.

1) Yoga tent mode has problems but those are Yoga problems, not windows 8 problems. When they get their firmware sorted out then the Yoga will work like the rest of the Windows 8 world.

2) Dropbox does NOT have to run as a "Windows 8 app" (I think she means Windows Store app). (It's funny how the author corrected her terminology to other incorrect terminology.) There is a Dropbox app in the Store but the same desktop app that exists for Windows 7 still exists for Windows 8. Just go download it like you would with Windows 7 and you're good to go. It has the same deep integration with File Explorer as always.

3) You don' have to you a Microsoft account. Just like Windows 7 you can make up any username and password you want and just have a local account. If you do choose to use a Microsoft account you get some extra syncing features across your devices (which is very nice), but it's not mandatory. Also, if you choose to use a Microsoft account, it doesn't have to be an old hotmail account. It can be one of several types of account, including the new (and amazing) outlook.com.

4) Yes, the Web Browsing in IE10 is incredible, possible better than any other browser at the moment. But a Windows 8 machine is SO much more than a Web Browser (ahem, Google Chromebook Pixel.) You can do ANYTHING on it that you could do on Windows 7. ANYTHING! All your applications, printers, devices, databases, and and services still work exactly like they did in Windows 7. Furthermore, Windows 8 boots faster, requires less disk space, and consumes less RAM and CPU when running. If this weren't enough, it comes with a wealth of new apps (most of them free) that you can use seamlessly across your devices.

Windows 8 is better than Windows 7 in every way (and far better than OSX), It absolutely is ready for prime time for small businesses. I own a small business and I don't have an IT staff either, but we've fully converted to Windows 8 have had lots of success using it. We will never go back to 7.
midmachine
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midmachine,
User Rank: Strategist
3/7/2013 | 5:49:32 PM
re: Windows 8 Convertible: My 3-Month Test Drive
Kinect you brought up every point that I noticed about the story. I run Win 8 Pro on my home machine and I won't go back either. Not a touch machine yet, just a few days later, I was scooting around the OS with the keyboard and mouse and yes, it runs everything and runs it better. The added features under the hood and the speed of the OS has me sold.
AsokAsus
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AsokAsus,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/7/2013 | 5:53:20 PM
re: Windows 8 Convertible: My 3-Month Test Drive
Uh, you completely miss the point of this story, I suspect on purpose. The author isn't reporting on their own personal experience but simply REPORTING the experience of an ordinary small-business user with Windows 8 on this particular (expensive) device. And their experience was not good. This was a business woman who spent a lot of money and had high hopes, and was disappointed to find that Windows 8 and the device did not meet her needs. That's all the story is about. There's no spin. Just a report on one not terribly happy user.
ANON1234369798209
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ANON1234369798209,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/7/2013 | 7:20:00 PM
re: Windows 8 Convertible: My 3-Month Test Drive
I guess Microsoft is using their warchest to discount any individual posts refuting the absolute perfection of their products...
GAProgrammer
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GAProgrammer,
User Rank: Strategist
3/7/2013 | 8:19:57 PM
re: Windows 8 Convertible: My 3-Month Test Drive
Actually, it's one of a thousand Windows 8 bashing experiences documented in the tech press, by yet another tech writer. Also, $1000 is a lot for a CEO these days? Really? The whole thing is very biased...most of her complaints seemed trivial at best and misleading at worst. Sorry if you can't see it.
pgilbert303
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pgilbert303,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/7/2013 | 10:17:03 PM
re: Windows 8 Convertible: My 3-Month Test Drive
I don't know about the Dropbox issue. However the issue about having to login with a Windows Live account is wrong as other commenters have stated. It is the default choice when setting up a new Windows 8 computer but you have a choice at this point in the setup. Obviously she was in too big of a hurry to read and the columnist in too big a hurry to bash the OS to check the facts.

As far as the auto-rotate goes in tent mode, I have a Lenovo Twist. It too doesn't rotate correctly and gets stuck upside down. However I feel this is more a manufacturer issue rather than an OS problem. I can understand how that could be a deal breaker for this particular user.

Otherwise I love the OS and everywhere we have installed the OS, the end users like it too. Too many negative and wrong perceptions exist about Windows 8 from you have to have a touch screen to no Desktop.
AsokAsus
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AsokAsus,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/7/2013 | 10:35:18 PM
re: Windows 8 Convertible: My 3-Month Test Drive
Trivial or not, she doesn't like the product. If enough folks don't like something, trivial or not, it's not going to sell well.
edyang
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edyang,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/8/2013 | 3:44:41 PM
re: Windows 8 Convertible: My 3-Month Test Drive
Why are we surprised? We all know the first try by Microsoft is usually lackluster. But given them a few revisions and we will find a much more polished Windows 8. Or...Windows Blue?
jododo
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jododo,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/8/2013 | 5:17:08 PM
re: Windows 8 Convertible: My 3-Month Test Drive
You're right. I think they're doing it again. -+That's their "new" strategy? They should try to fix Windows 8.
AustinIT
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AustinIT,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/8/2013 | 10:22:59 PM
re: Windows 8 Convertible: My 3-Month Test Drive
The problems mentioned are not with Windows 8. It's a problem with the device itself. And in her choice of logon type. And in her choice of using Drop Box rather than the outstanding SkyDrive App.

Had Ms. Bell availed herself of competent help in selecting the right device and getting it setup properly for her use case, she would have had a much better outcome.

One of the (many) reasons for Apple's success is because they focus so much on the user experience. And it starts early... in their marketing and in their retail purchasing process. They sweat the details here because it matters.

It's also the obvious reason that compelled Microsoft to take back the reins and drive their future more directly... aka the Surface products. Not saying they get everything right but when you have friends like their current OEMs... just sayin.
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