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.
Three months later, Bell reached a disappointing conclusion about Windows 8: "It's just not ready for prime time," she said. Issues with the Yoga's "tent mode" -- the ability to stand up the tablet display for presentations and similar purposes -- top her list, because that feature was one of the primary appeals of the convertible in the first place. Bell found several applications didn't properly flip or "stuck" in tent mode, rendering the image upside-down to the viewer. Skype videoconferences -- In Every Language is a heavy user of the app for staff meetings and presentations because it's a virtual office -- were a regular problem, and Bell ultimately had to leave the device in laptop mode so that people's faces weren't upside-down.

"What was the point in me paying $200 to $600 more than I would have for a laptop to have something I could put in tent [mode] so that it looks nice in presentations if I can't use the tent mode?" Bell said. Bell's firm is also a heavy Dropbox user for both internal and external file sharing, syncing and backup. She said she ran into regular problems syncing files from the Windows 8-based Yoga and has had to uninstall and reinstall the app multiple times, ultimately to no avail. "Dropbox [does not work well] on it," Bell said. "You might as well not even have Dropbox because it makes it [run] as a [Windows 8] app as opposed to being able to get into it as though it were a file folder."

Some of Bell's experience speaks to a fact of life for many small businesses: They don't have an IT department for things like application testing, troubleshooting and similar tasks that come with a significant technology change such as Windows 8. "I am admittedly not an IT person," Bell said. Therein lies a challenge for Microsoft in getting small businesses to adopt Windows 8. Small-business owners often have less time, inclination or technical know-how for getting under the hood to tweak and customize settings, application preferences and other features.

Among other relatively minor items that nagged Bell: Having to sign in to Windows with a Microsoft account. She used her long-abandoned Hotmail credentials, but did so begrudgingly. She has also found Windows updates to be more intrusive -- her older laptop runs Vista, and she is accustomed to the pop-up prompt that enables the user to postpone the automatic update for up to four hours.

"Were I only using the computer for personal stuff, [the updates are] no big deal," Bell said. "But if I’m presenting in front of 100 people at an international conference, not so much."

The Clooney comparison held up in her day-to-day usage -- the retooled, touch-centric Windows UI had advantages beyond just looking good. "The Web browsing on it is incredible," Bell said, adding that the touch functionality was a big plus in this regard. "But like most business owners, I don't want to pay $1,000 for a Web browser."

"Business owner" is the operative phrase here. Much of Bell's disappointment with Windows 8 stems from high hopes borne of a form factor that seemed tailor made for her job. She has found, though, that the underlying OS -- especially on an out-of-the-box device purchased at retail -- would be much better-suited for use at home. "The [convertible] set-up seemed perfect. But in reality, it’s as though we’ve paid for a very expensive game console," Bell said. For personal use, she said, "it's great -- if I want to watch TV on it at night or whatever. I just don't think it's fit for business. I don't think they even made it for us."

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