One of the biggest challenges any PC manufacturer faces is how to really differentiate their offerings from a host of other roughly similar systems.
For the most part, PC manufacturers have stuck to their core hardware competencies to achieve some level of differentiation, whether that was the addition of security features or automatic backup and recovery tools.
Now PC manufacturers are moving much more aggressively into the realm of software to differentiate themselves with the arrival of Windows 7. A case in point are new ThinkPad notebook systems from Lenovo that now include a new Simple Tap extension to the touch screen capability of Windows 7. Here's a quick look at a sample application:
Nobody should expect the touch screen technology in Windows 7 to necessarily emulate the experience they get on, for example, an Apple iPhone. But there are definitely going to be applications where touch screens can make a difference. In engineering and design applications, for example, you can easily see how sizing something using multiple fingers could be -- pardon the pun -- pretty handy.
But even more useful is the ability to link a tab to any specific application on a server. End users can then simply touch a tab on the Windows 7 desktop to invoke that application. The best part of that is that any updates to the application on the server are all transparent to the end user.
That may not seem like a huge technical advance, but it's a good example of a simple little thing that makes a big difference in the minds of both end users and the IT administrators that serve them.
Lenovo is also seeking to differentiate itself with systems that feature enhancements to the company's displays that make it easier to use their systems indoors or out. For anybody who works in a campus environment, the fact that you can't see the screen on a notebook system connected to a perfectly good wireless network can be kind of annoying.
We live in a world where the reason we choose to do one thing over another is usually attributable to a combination of rationale and subjective perceptions. At first glance, Lenovo appears to have done a nice job of balancing both.