Lenovo is at the centre of some controversy this morning following allegations that it has cooked up some sort of deal with Microsoft to lock some 'Signature Edition ' (i.e. bloatware-free) PCs so it's only possible to use Windows 10 on them, and Linux can't be installed – an accusation Lenovo has strongly denied.
Okay, so what's going on here exactly? The basic premise is that certain machines – including the Yoga 900, Yoga 900S, and Yoga 710S – come with their SSD storage locked in a RAID mode which Linux doesn't work with, as there is no functioning driver for the alternative OS. Hence users can't remove Windows 10 and replace it with Linux, if they wished to do so.
But as the Register spotted, the real controversy erupted when a Lenovo representative responded to complaints about this on the Best Buy site by saying: "This system has a Signature Edition of Windows 10 Home installed. It is locked per our agreement with Microsoft."
Hence the accusations of some sort of deal with Microsoft to ensure that only Windows 10 can be used on these Signature Edition machines.
Lenovo was quick to defend against this allegation, however, and told the Register that it "does not intentionally block customers using other operating systems".
And in a subsequent statement issued to the press at large, Lenovo stated that its consumer PCs are specifically designed and tested for Windows 10, and that the "Yoga design requires very specific, complex and unique drivers that require even greater amounts of testing, to ensure class-leading performance with Windows 10".
The company added that: "To support our Yoga products and our industry-leading 360-hinge design in the best way possible we have used a storage controller mode that is unfortunately not supported by Linux and as a result, does not allow Linux to be installed. Beyond the controller setup limitation, other advanced capabilities of the Yoga design would likely not work with current Linux offerings."
So there you have it – although we can't help but think that it would be a good idea if Lenovo cleared up exactly why a system with a single SSD is in a RAID mode anyway, beyond the reasoning that it's simply to "support our Yoga products … in the best way possible".
In the lengthy Reddit thread discussing this matter, though, other posters have offered insight into this point, including the apparent fact that all Signature Edition PCs have to be locked into their best performing mode in BIOS (for safety/security reasons). Indeed, that could be the 'agreement' the aforementioned Lenovo rep was referring to.
At any rate, those Yoga owners with a hankering for Linux will have to wait until the appropriate driver arrives for the OS – although one Reddit user appears to have bypassed Lenovo's lock already via direct BIOS flashing.
- See what Lenovo has to offer in our round-up of best PCs
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Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).