John owns 20 expensive bricks

An onerous configuration problem with a stack of new laptops leaves one reader unable to use them

John has a major gripe with Lenovo:

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Our brand-new, top-of-the-line Thinkpads are expensive bricks. I purchased them (and have been purchasing them for over a year) because Lenovo offered a tool that allowed corporate customers to determine what drivers were needed to use the Thinkpads with corporate image loads of Microsoft software. Lenovo's salespeople assured me this was one of their best features for corporate customers.

In April, they withdrew that capability with no warning. So the new machines I have in our computer room are worthless because there is no clean way to determine what drivers are needed to make them functional with Vista.

A new machine with our corporate image load for Vista ultimate used to take 10 minutes of employee time to set up. (It would run for a few hours but was automatic -- including restarts.) The machine we configured last week took more than seven hours of dedicated employee time and about two hours of follow-up with Lenovo tech support. It still isn't right. Since we buy what they call build-to-order (custom configuration) machines, the driver set can vary widely even among the same model.

I hope I can find another manufacturer who understands business customers. I am also hoping to find someone who would like to buy 20 or so Thinkpads for personal use since the preloaded consumer software is now the only supported configuration.

I forwarded John's original e-mail to Lenovo asking for an explanation of what happened or some sort of satisfactory resolution for John but, as of today, have gotten no response beyond "we'll look into it."