I have been a very satisfied IBM ThinkPad user for quite a number of years. My T41 has traveled many countries and has faithfully served me throughout all of my travels. However, as any computer user knows, Moore's Law does not stand still and a four year old computer is sure to start showing its age, particularly when loaded with the latest operating system and software. So it was about time I started looking for a suitable replacement and about a month ago Lenovo offered ThinkPad promotional pricing I could hardly resist. My credit card was out of my wallet quickly and minutes later an online order was placed. Despite a promised approximate three week shipping time a box showed up early on my doorstep one faithful Wednesday afternoon in September.
Most readers of Hardware Analysis know about the ritual they have to go through when facing a new machine with a freshly-installed Windows operating system. This ritual involves running Windows Update until all Microsoft patches have been applied and the operating system and drivers have been updated. It looked like the OS image installed on my brand new notebook was barely two weeks old so I was looking at only about a dozen or so updates to install. Soon after I was on my way to start downloading and installing some of the basic software I use on a daily basis, such as Mozilla Firefox, OpenOffice and Trillian.
More so, my new ThinkPad T61p came with a fingerprint reader so I was eager to give this mysterious biometric technology a shot. It also came supplied with a proprietary Lenovo application for updating ThinkPad-specific software so I decided to have it run freely and see if there were any updates for biometric drivers. There were not, although there were other updates for wireless adapter software and some other things.
My attention shifted to supplying my fingerprints to Lenovo Security Solutions wizard, a mildly-fascinating process. As I was almost done, a message popped up on my screen. 'BIOS update is available', the Lenovo application alerted me and asked if I would like to indulge downloading and installing the update? 'Sure, why not', I thought, as I closed all unnecessary applications and agreed to proceed with the update.
The process seemed to take a while so I walked away from my desk to grab a drink. Upon returning I was greeted with a lovely 'Application stopped responding, terminate or continue?' prompt. Not realizing yet what application caused this prompt I told Windows to continue and went on with my work on my desktop computer. Few minutes later I noticed the same message again on my laptop screen.
At this point I realized that the only application running on my ThinkPad was the BIOS update program. 'Oh, oh', more or less accurately reflects what was going through my mind at first as I kept pressing the 'continue' button, but the dreaded message kept coming back. The 'Oh, oh' eventually turned into audible words that are not really fit to print here. My only option was to terminate the crashed BIOS update, so I did. At that point in time I was staring at what seemed like a perfectly fine Windows desktop, but in my heart I knew that all was not well with the BIOS, something which would probably become all too clear after a reboot.
With fingers and toes crossed I pressed 'Restart' and watched Windows shutdown and the screen to go dark. And dark it stayed, as my not-even-2-hours-old purchase refused to work in any way, shape or form. At this point, after mentally laughing and crying at the situation, an article headline mentally started taking form in my head. In light of Sander's fairly recent column article called When stuff breaks days after the warranty expired?
I could already see myself writing a 'When stuff breaks before warranty begins' column as I surely anticipated waiting weeks for Lenovo to fix my new purchase.