I’ve had PC’s since before the IBM PC in 1981. I’ve built hundreds of computers over different phases of the PC life cycle (for myself, others and at computer stores I worked at for years). I’ve personally owned many ThinkPads since they were introduced…likely between 40-50 including my multiple work PC’s. The same is true with Microsoft. I’ve worked with DOS and Windows, Windows for Workgroups, (built and wired my first network in 1994), NT, 95, 2000, XP and you name it. I first put up webpages since 1993 and every version of DOS or Windows made starting with 1.0 for both. I’ve finally had it with the declination of the quality, service, especially customer service and workmanship of IBM/Lenovo and Microsoft products.
I began to desire a different machine when the smartest guys at IBM (IBM Fellow’s) and the smartest (and of course some of my favorite) IT analysts starting using Mac’s. It told me times were a changin’.
WHEN THEY WERE GOOD
It used to be that when you went to a frequent flyer lounge at an airport, it would be a ThinkPad convention because they were so tough, now everyone is switching to an iPad which I now also love and have.
Further, when I retired, I bought what I thought would be the ThinkPad which would last me for at least 5 years (pictured below). It was the worst PC experience to date, see the beginning below.
In reverse order, after 1.5 years, one of the USB ports failed, the screen is falling apart (for the second time…the first in only months), the battery died in the first 6 months (they fixed that under warranty after 1 month of calls and forcing a manager intervention because customer service blamed me) other hardware and software problems which eventually got fixed over hours of calls (the final fix was always simple and could have been easily accomplished from the start).
I called the Lenovo help desk and not only did they refuse to fix most of my problems (all within the warranty period), but they were with the exception of one person, unhelpful to me and not proficient in English 95+% of the time (some were rude, but tech support is a thankless job). Note: I like the people from other countries and think that they are hard working so I have no problems with the people, rather the policies they are forced to adhere to put them into positions they shouldn’t be forced into. I’m clearly calling out the company, not the people here. It’s just in this case we couldn’t understand each other and they mostly were not trained or who couldn’t fix problems and just couldn’t help fix issues Lenovo created.
Here’s what my screen looks like now with use that is less than normal due to my retirement status:
This was compounded by the fact that they originally shipped me a computer which was in for repair as I found it had someone else’s password on it. Tech support recognized the serial number as someone else’s machine and I had to ship back a PC so that they could ship me what I ordered which was supposed to be new. They at first required me to pay for the return shipping for the machine which they wrongly shipped me in the first place. It took them 5 weeks to get me this wrong machine once I ordered it in the first place, so needless to say, this added to a dissatisfied experience. Let me summarize it: The 1st machine I received was in for repair which they shipped to me as my new machine. They finally agreed to pay for the shipping back to them after weeks, but I was in dis-belief by now as I had to get upper management approval 3 levels above my call to tech support to get shipping approved and the machine I ordered sent to me. This was a 6 week timeframe that I put up with to get a ThinkPad that looks like the one above.
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE COMPANY PURCHASED FROM IBM?
So, what happened when Lenovo bought the PC Division from IBM? Quality and customer service have apparently suffered, at least for me. It is fair to note that Lenovo is the PC leader even though PC’s are a dying breed and are now a commodity item, but that the lead is mostly due to HP executive incompetence and Dell lack of innovation.
WORKING FOR IBM PC DIVISION, MORE THINKPAD BACKGROUND AND EXPERIENCE THAN MOST HAVE
I worked with ThinkPads at companies before IBM. I then did communications for the IBM-PC (PSG) division back in the early 2000’s. IBM-PCs were a rock solid product that introduced many technologies from the floppy disk, HDD on PC’s, open system motherboard, the start of an incredibly successful industry, creation of millions of jobs, Bluetooth and WiFi to the industry. It was well accepted by industry leaders as the standard to compare against and I was proud of representing the machines. By then, we had slipped to about 4th place, but IBM had other priorities by then. Analysts always recognized that the IBM ThinkPad was the industry leader, albeit most of the time the expensive option. I never had a problem educating them that it was the industry leader to be compared against. I also learned from IDC, Gartner, Forrester and others that Dell and HP were sub-standard compared to the ThinkPad.
THE IBM TO LENOVO EMPLOYEE TRANSITION
The co-workers who went to Lenovo were mixed. The developers were good, with the chief designer being one of if not the best, but he obviously had nothing to do with my 410S. The Press communications team however was a joke. Much of the management that I had worked with were handcuffed by the new ownership. However, with the non-inventor taking over control, changes in leadership including many Dell executives, it has appeared to make it less than the leader of rugged laptops, a position it once enjoyed.
MY LATEST PURCHASE
Since my ThinkPad failed and the screen basically fell off (I am retired and don’t travel anymore so it didn’t have the wear and tear to justify its condition), the keyboard keeps sticking, ports not working and the other problems I’ve described have forced me to buy a new PC.
Side note: I worked with Microsoft since 1981 in one form or another, as a partner, but mostly as a competitor as Microsoft was very belligerent and went out of their way to be anti-IBM (see my joint announcement wrap up). I’ve worked with their products since DOS 1.0 which I still have installed on an original PC at home. They loved Lenovo when the purchase was made and the difference was an overnight sea change in their attitude of helpfulness and pricing.
So the combination of Lenovo’s product being poor, their customer service being unhelpful led me to buying a MacBook Pro (but I got much more computing power and a brand new experience in helpfulness).
But, both Lenovo and Microsoft lost me as a customer and I can’t be alone.
Here is my new computer, a 13 inch Macbook Pro:
It sync’s with my phone and iPad seamlessly. I don’t have weekly Microsoft security updates or blue screen of death experiences. It is powerful, I can read Windows files and have converted them, multimedia is a snap, graphics are beautiful and most of all it works without gyrations to make drivers, port configurations and software incompatibilities work. I have never before been an Apple fan except when I ran an advertising department for a few years and understood artists needs for them.
When managing a store at a computer chain, my store was recognized as the retailer that lead the nation in Apple sales so I do have experience with them. My store also was a leading promoter of the first Macintosh during the famous 1984 ad time. In other words, I know them well, but I’ve used Wintel computers most if not all of my life until now.
Further, I called their tech support and went to an Apple store and guess what, they were friendly and helpful, and it just works. I paid less for the software than the PC version (I just built a multimedia PC for my TV viewing so I am fully aware of company configured, or self built PC’s vs. Mac machines hardware and software.
THE TREND OF PC’S
Mobile devices are killing standard laptops at a rate far faster than laptops replacing desktops, but there is still a need for machines that do more than a tablet until they increase in input efficiency, storage capacity and business application conversion (there are tons of legacy apps still out there as the average person still interacts with COBOL 13 times a day). This hasn’t caused me any issues with my new laptop though, it just works.
The company that is easy to work with, keeps up with the trends and produces quality equipment will be the one who has market leadership. I have voted with my money.