Businesses want Windows 8 hybrids, not Windows RT, says Lenovo
While numerous vendors have released tablet devices that use Windows RT, Lenovo has gone with Windows 8 Pro for its hybrid notebook/tablet, the ThinkPad Helix.
According to Lenovo Think PC and visual category manager Simon Kent, Windows 8 Pro was the right choice because it is the "full version of Windows" and not "cut down" like RT, enabling users to use the Helix as a "proper Windows tool."
"We don't believe that Windows RT is what businesses want," he said.
"This is particularly true for a premium product such as Helix, which gives you the performance and capability of a full Ultrabook as well as a business tablet."
Kent said there are "no shortcuts" in enabling something like that, so the full version of Windows 8 was the only logical choice.
"Even Microsoft has started to review the RT path they have gone down," he said.
When it came to the Helix, Kent said Lenovo was going a "full Windows experience," and admits that for that reason it is likely not going to be the cheapest convertible that is available on the market.
However, he said it is a "very good tool" for businesses that need a device that operates as an Ultrabook first and as manageable tablet second.
"CEOs often come into their office and demand that their IT manager get the tablet to work on the local network," Kent said.
"Though they do not understand what is needed in terms of managing and locking that device down, or understanding what it is running from an applications perspective, and Helix has been designed with that in mind."
One of the standout products of last year from Lenovo was the X1 Carbon Ultrabook, which combined the ruggedness of the ThinkPad in a modern, compact design.
As for how the Helix stacks up to the X1 Carbon, and whether an upgrade is justified or not, Kent said it ultimately comes down to the needs of the user.
"On one hand you have tablets which are used for web browsing, music and videos," he said. "On the other you have the Ultrabook, and what we're seeing is a demand for the two coming together."
For that reason, Lenovo has created a hybrid device that is able to cater for content consumption, but also features the portability of a tablet for a business environment.
The Helix takes it a step further by incorporating a pen digitiser and handwriting recognition for added flexibility.
Despite the ongoing popularity of tablets, Kent said that the notebook PC is "not dying at all."
"Our commercial notebook business is commercially strong and has continued to grow over the last 15 quarters," he said.
Kent admits that the market is "tough, flat and declining," but that Lenovo is one of the few vendors that continues to grow regardless.
"What we do see is needs changing," he said.
"What it gives us in this convertible is if someone does not want to carry a separate tablet and notebook."
When it comes to the upgrade cycle, if someone is interested beyond merely a notebook or tablet, then Kent expects they will potentially look for a hybrid.
"We're not expecting everyone to throw away their notebooks and buy the Helix," he said.
"Those who want to continue using their notebook for work may still want to buy a tablet separately."
When it comes to a premium hybrid convertible that meets the needs of those who travel a lot and are not locked down in an office, Kent said there is a market for the Helix.
As an example, the Helix is likely to appeal to CIOs who need a "secure, scalable solution" that they can manage within their existing infrastructure without having to "make massive changes to it."
"We don't see it wiping out notebooks, but as a more modern version of the 'road warrior' tool," he said.