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Lenovo's plans for tech domination: From Windows 10 to wearables

Peter Hortenius
Peter Hortenius, chief technical officer at Lenovo
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Peter Hortenius doesn't look like a man under pressure. Lenovo's chief technical officer was smiling and seemed perfectly relaxed as we met him in a posh hotel in central London.

To say that the beginning of 2015 has been a tumultuous year for the Chinese company would be a massive understatement. It made the headlines in the opening months of the year for all the wrong reasons, with the Superfish scandal.

Lenovo was criticised for the way it initially dealt with the issue and Hortenius was singled out by some for his relaxed, if slightly debonair, approach. But that's how the man rolls and what makes him one of the most powerful figures in the world of personal computing (in its traditional sense).

"We've learnt a lot from that incident," he said candidly, "the team was looking to deliver an enhanced shopping experience but didn't understand the whole process."

"There was a lot of oversimplification but no bad intent. Some people simply didn't do their job properly."

He further observed: "I don't think that many companies will have been open about such a problem. I would defy you to find one that would have reacted like [we did]. We owned up to it and addressed it as we said we would."

Asked what lessons the company has learnt five months on, Hortenius said the app vetting process has been "significantly improved"; there are now more enhanced security reviews and the decision process has been overhauled.


Lenovo has definitely learnt its lessons from the Superfish fracas

Fewer apps, leaner machines

The biggest change though is that Lenovo will bundle fewer applications on its computers. "To be frank," he said, "we will dramatically reduce the number of applications running on our machines, we will write a few ourselves and some territories will have the relevant applications."

He cited Baidu as an example in China but stressed the fact that there will be a lot less stuff, and the company will also publish what applications are preloaded on Lenovo systems, an open approach, which Hortenius believes, will help rebuild the trust it partly lost from customers.

Hortenius declined to comment on whether removing bundled applications will have an impact on product pricing. Bloatware – as it is often referred to – usually brings in additional revenue for PC manufacturers whose average profit per unit sold is often in the single digit range.

Windows 10 will help to mitigate the issue of bloatware according to Lenovo's CTO but he didn't elaborate further. Microsoft already runs a "Signature" programme which strips participating stock keeping units of all third party applications.

Windows 10 and Cortana

Speaking of Microsoft's forthcoming flagship operating system, Hortenius said that Lenovo was "pretty bullish" about it. It is "primarily a cleaned-up OS" and a good update to Windows 8.1. Overall, he was quite excited by what that potentially means.

Lenovo has worked closely with Microsoft and within one month of launch, the company will have completely new systems that have been "designed in the context of Windows 10", taking advantage of what the OS has to offer.

Hortenius was particularly bullish about Cortana – the company demonstrated, at its annual TechWorld gathering, how it can work with Lenovo's own application, ReachIT, to allow all your devices (iOS, Android, Windows) to look like a big file system, even when one of them is switched off.

It is an extension of what Microsoft did and a perfect example of a 3-in-1 solution, one that embodies the best of hardware, software and services. The ReachIT/Cortana partnership has ramifications in the enterprise segment as well with big data analytics being a prime candidate likely to gain from that feature.

Desire Athow
Desire Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.