More on Windows 7 + In Flight Netbooks

I've really enjoyed reading all of your comments from my last post on Windows 7. Our software team has as well. It is clear that everyone has a different opinion on the utility of our ThinkVantage software, though there are clearly a few favorites. As you might have read on Yamato Thinking, Lenovo Power Manager has had some growing pains as of late due to it being ported to a new user interface code base. Our software team also had to spend some considerable development resources to make the new "slider" power management functionality available in Windows XP. (It used to be a Vista only feature.) The team continues to add functionality and the tool is absolutely an ongoing priority for Lenovo. If you are not using it on your ThinkPad or M58 or newer ThinkCentre, you should. The analogy I use with customers is this:  Most vendors, even if they have a pretty front end user interface, are just using Windows power management under the covers. Windows does an okay job, but it needs to be generic because it has to work on all vendors' hardware. Since Power Manager is designed to work with just Lenovo hardware, it is very specific and can do power management tricks that Windows cannot. As we move closer to Windows 7, some of our ThinkVantage tools are clearly going to have some modifications. However, you should not just take that as a "Lenovo is removing features" statement. Yes, some features and programs will be reduced, but we will be adding some new technologies too. Plus, we will definitely be using some of the cool aspects of Windows 7 to enhance the user experience of our tools. For example, just this morning, I read this on Microsoft's Windows 7 development blog: PC and laptop makers such as Lenovo, were very interested in doing more than just showing the machine's icon in Devices and Printers. They told us they wanted to leverage Device Stage to help them better customize the experience for our mutual customers.

The implications are clear. The era is quickly drawing to a close where you can expect and demand that everything work on your XP system. If you want the latest capabilities (from any vendor), you should plan on upgrading your operating system sooner than later. Financially, no vendor can support three simultaneous operating systems for very long. Maybe that was possible in the era of $3000 machines with double digit profit margins, but those days are long over. Besides, why would you WANT to stay stuck in the past? (For those that like to delight in inconsistencies, yes, I know that screen shot above features an HP notebook.) On another note, I was fortunate enough to be able to use airline miles to upgrade my seat on an overseas flight last week. I hadn't been in AA's business class in quite a while, and I was quite surprised when I glanced up at the in-flight entertainment system in my seat. The "entertainment device" was clearly a modified netbook PC.

From looking at it, obviously they removed the keyboard and added a control panel. Then they replaced the display with a very bright touch screen. I found that while the display was bright enough, the touch screen was an absolute dog. It seemed to use resistive instead of capacitive technology and was very slow and inaccurate in its response.

They also mounted it on a "sled" which seems to be as much of a theft deterrent as a way to quickly gang charge the batteries as well as reload them with new movies each month.

Though you can clearly see the cigarette lighter power cord, I did unplug it and confirmed that yes, the system battery is still in place and a minor power disruption doesn't faze it.

Most interesting to me was that it appears that the Wi-Fi system is still intact, as you can see from the slit in the top cover. Though they may have started out with cheap hardware, I doubt the finished product was anything close to low cost.