We've never been bashful here in the Hutong about using Lenovo (OTCPK:LNVGY) as a punching bag. Frankly, the only reason we don't do it more is because sometimes it's just too easy.
So it's only fair when we catch Lenovo doing something really smart that we give them credit.
And they've done something really smart.
After suggesting at one point it would drop support for Linux, Lenovo has gone in the other direction, first publicly committing itself to Linux on the lap, then making itself the first among the majors to actually announce a front-line laptop with Linux pre-loaded as the primary OS at LinuxWorld today.
For a very long time, all of the major PC manufacturers have been hesitant to promote the fact that they sell machines with Linux pre-loaded, and many have only offered Linux when a request came from a major customer. I had to do a search of the Dell website before I could find anything that offered a Linux pre-load, and all I could find was servers and workstations. Want a regular desktop or notebook with Linux? Oh, well.
Now, I'll cop to being an enthusiastic Linux Noobie, even though Mac OS-X is my first-line operating system. But my reasoning for recognizing Lenovo's smarts goes beyond some quasi-religious belief in Open Source.
There's Gold In Them Thar Hills
This is a clear bid by Lenovo to capture the small- and medium-sized business [SMB] market in the US by doing something different that offers to salve some raw nerves.
Microsoft has been increasingly aggressive about the way it "works with" SMBs as a part of the Microsoft Software Asset Management program. Redmond's actions under this program would seem to indicate that their idea of IPR protection is using the threat of legal mayhem to intimidate CIOs and gain direct access to corporate computer systems.
Some companies might be okay with that. I sure as hell wouldn't be, and I'm starting to hear about a growing number of CIOs who are asking themselves whether it's worth it to deal with the hassle, the costs, the intimidation.
A Linux-based ThinkPad is just the kind of product a CIO would buy to evaluate the viability of using Linux on the desktop in a whole range of areas in the enterprise. Sure, there are some businesses it will never be right for, but there are a lot of companies and educational environments for which Linux would be more than adequate, and using a ThinkPad with Linux on it as an ice-breaker and an experimental machine is spot on.
Any bets that HP and Dell don't follow suit soon?