The Lenovo Yoga 900 – Software

My last post looked at the hardware and performance of the new Lenovo Yoga 900. This post takes a look at the experience of the initial setup of Windows 10, and the software bundled with the Yoga 900 by Lenovo.

Windows 10

The Yoga 900 comes with Windows 10 installed and ready to be set up when the Yoga 900 is first turned on. “Setting up” involves choosing the language(s) you want Windows 10 to use, creating a user account, and connecting to a WiFi network. I’m based in the Netherlands, and Microsoft’s Cortana is not (yet) available for the Dutch market. Since I wanted to try out Cortana, I set up Windows 10 to use British English, and set the region to the UK:

clip_image002

There is, of course, the legal stuff to accept…

clip_image004

The next step is to connect to a Wi-Fi network. While this step can be skipped, and network connections set up later, it’s best to do it now for two reasons. First, critical software updates to Windows 10 that were issued after the operating system was installed during the manufacture of the Yoga 900 can be immediately installed, and second, if you want to create a Microsoft account during set up, it’s easier to be connected to the internet for this step.

clip_image006

Once connected, Windows 10 will offer to use the Express settings for the fastest setup, but you can elect to customise any of the defaults if you so wish.

clip_image008

At this point, if you have set up the network connection, Windows 10 will download and install any critical updates for you.

clip_image010

Then comes an important question: “who owns the Yoga 900?”. The choice is between you or the company/organisation you work for. Your answer determines whether the Yoga 900 gets automatically joined to the company’s IT network to use the systems there, or, if it is a machine for your personal use, it will be set up for you. Your answer determines which apps, settings and permissions will be used during the rest of the set up process.

clip_image011

Assuming that it is your Yoga 900, then the next step is to create your account on the machine. If you already have a Microsoft account, used on other PCs and/or Windows Phones, then enter your details here. If you don’t yet have a Microsoft account, you can use this step to create one. You can also elect not to have a Microsoft account associated with this machine at all, but use a “local” account that is unique to this Yoga 900. You do this by choosing the “skip this step” option.

clip_image012

The last step in the process is to choose your PIN, which is a faster way to log in than typing in a long, strong, password (you do have a long, strong, password, don’t you?).

clip_image014

And now you’re all set; Windows 10 will set up your default apps and bring you to the desktop:

clip_image016

The Start menu will probably look something like this, with a set of default apps:

clip_image018

These will be a mixture of apps provided by Microsoft and those provided by Lenovo for the Yoga 900. Which brings me to:

Lenovo Software

It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of the OEM practice of bundling a long list of software applications in with their machines. Lenovo is well-known for doing this. For the most part, I find such applications to be of limited, if not questionable, value. The first thing I usually do on setting up such a machine is to remove all such non-essential software. To be fair to Lenovo, they are trying to clean up their act, and the Yoga 900 comes with the shortest list of bundled applications that I’ve seen so far from them. Looking in the Windows 10 list of installed programs, I found the following:

 

Application Type

Application Name

Lenovo Applications

Lenovo Accelerator Application

Lenovo Battery Gauge

Lenovo Companion 3.0
Lenovo Experience Improvement
Lenovo FusionEngine

Lenovo ID

Lenovo Photo Master

Lenovo Product Demo

Lenovo QuickOptimizer

Lenovo REACHit and SHAREit

Lenovo Settings 3.0

Lenovo Solution Center
LenovoUtility
OneKey Recovery

User Guide

Security & Productivity

McAfee LiveSafe (trial)

Microsoft Office 2016 (trial)

Having a separate application for the User Guide seems somewhat pointless, as the User Guide is now integrated into the Lenovo Companion.

Looking at the list of Lenovo applications, there’s a couple that I haven’t the faintest idea of what they do, and one that I can guess at. The unknowns are:

  • Lenovo FusionEngine
  • Lenovo Utility

It would be nice to have a clear statement from Lenovo as to what these applications are intended to achieve.

Lenovo Experience Improvement

My guess is that the Lenovo Experience Improvement application is collecting and reporting to Lenovo non-personally identifiable statistical data, for example:

  • both the configuration and region when the system is first activated,
  • ongoing information on how often key components are used.

Not everyone is happy with this sort of data-gathering, and those that aren’t can simply uninstall this application. However, it doesn’t overly bother me, and many manufacturers are doing it these days – even my printer is phoning home and reporting statistics. This kind of information helps manufacturers better understand how their products are being used and perform in the field, and this helps influence design decisions for future product generations.

Lenovo Battery Gauge

This is actually a useful extension to the standard battery control of Windows 10. It replaces the standard Windows 10 battery notification in the taskbar with a (somewhat clumsy) Lenovo design.

clip_image020

It’s useful, because it gives access to a “conservation” mode of charging, where the battery is only charged to 55-60%. This maximises the life of the battery. This mode is not available in standard Windows 10. However, the design of the Lenovo control could be improved. If the icon is touched or clicked, the full Lenovo Settings app is started, and the power section shown:

clip_image022

This uses a lot of screen real estate to display relatively little information. It’s also not obvious that not all the power controls are being shown here. You need to scroll down to see additional options, but there is no indication that the page is scrollable until you try to interact with it. I’ll have more to say about the Lenovo Settings app in a moment. But first, here’s how the same information is presented on the Yoga 3 Pro:

clip_image024

This is a much more compact method of displaying options to the user, and personally, I much prefer this approach to that of the Lenovo Settings app.

Lenovo Settings

In an ideal world, the controls for hardware specific features would be integrated into the Windows 10 Settings screens directly; everything would be accessible via the Windows 10 settings, which would be extended as required by specific hardware or features. In the days of Windows 7, this was done by extending the Control Panel applets with extra tabbed input panels.

Now, in Windows 10 as it is at the moment, we have a bit of a dog’s dinner, where some settings are only accessible via the Lenovo Settings app, some are exposed as extra tabs in traditional Control Panel applets (for example, the Synaptics Touchpad settings), and some are directly accessible via Windows 10 Settings.

The Lenovo Settings app has its own manner and style of user interface. It would be much more preferable if it followed the same style guide as Windows 10 Settings. That would help it to blend in with the “house style” of Windows 10, and not stick out like a sore thumb.

In some cases, there are clickable links on the Lenovo Settings pages that invoke traditional Control Panel applets. Here, for example is the input settings page, with links under the “More” heading to invoke the mouse properties window or the Pen and Touch window.

clip_image026

Clicking on the “mouse properties” link should bring up the Synaptics tab of the traditional mouse Control Panel applet:

clip_image028

Well, it is invoked, but unfortunately the window is not brought to the foreground, and if the Yoga 900 is in tablet mode there is no indication on the Taskbar that the window even exists. This is not a good user experience.

Another problem area in the Lenovo Settings app is that the settings do not always reflect reality. It is very easy, for example, to get into the situation where the Settings app claims that the keyboard backlight is “on”, when in fact it is “off” – and vice versa. Setting features via the keyboard seems to be independent of setting them via the Settings app, when good user interface design would seem to demand that all controls should be in lockstep and display the current actual settings at all times.

Lenovo Companion

  • The Lenovo Companion app brings together the following areas:
  • Support (warranty, technical support, and community support)
  • System health (battery, storage, memory, and hardware diagnostics)
  • System update (automatic download and installation of Lenovo-specific updates)
  • Technical news, Lenovo-specific articles and news on apps made by or offered by Lenovo.

I have found that I really only use the Companion app to check for system updates. For community support (i.e. accessing the Lenovo Forums and Knowledge Base articles), I will go directly to the Forums via a Web browser – it’s far faster and easier to use than accessing them via the Companion app.

Lenovo Photo Master

This appears to be an app developed for Lenovo by CyberLink. It allows you to browse your photo collection held on the Yoga 900, and to import photos to that collection from online services such as Flickr, OneDrive and Facebook.

It is one of the many alternatives to the built-in Photos app of Windows 10. Given that the Photos app is still very limited in functionality (but supposedly still being developed and extended by Microsoft), many people seek out an alternative.

Unfortunately, Photo Master is itself fairly limited. It does not support descriptive tags, held in photo metadata. So you can’t search for photos by using tags[1], or manage the tags in your photos. It does support tagging of people’s faces in photos – it can identify a face (but not who the person is), and you can then add a name to the face. It stores this information in the photos as metadata. However, it uses Microsoft’s proprietary People tag schema to do this. This schema was introduced by Microsoft back in Windows 7. Since then, an open standard for face tagging has been developed by the Metadata Working Group, and implemented in photo products such as Google’s Picasa, Adobe’s Lightroom and IDimager’s Photo Supreme. It’s a little unfortunate that Lenovo has not chosen to use this open standard, but has gone with a Microsoft proprietary approach (that itself seems to have been dropped by Microsoft since 2012).

Lenovo QuickOptimizer and Lenovo Accelerator Application

This was a separate application in the Yoga 3 Pro (OneKey Optimizer), but now it appears to have been split into these two components which are in turn integrated into the Lenovo Companion app. There is also an Optimizer icon placed on the Taskbar which can invoke two pop-up controls; one to launch the “full optimizer” (which invokes the Companion app opened to the “Optimize your IdeaPad” section) and an “App acceleration” control allowing you to choose which applications you wish to accelerate.

clip_image030 clip_image032

I have to say that I’m somewhat uneasy about using the app acceleration control in particular, especially after reading this review of the original Optimizer app, with its rather damning conclusion. I’ll be giving these applications a miss.

Lenovo Solution Center

This is another utility that previously led an independent existence, but which now can be invoked via the Companion app in the “Hardware Scan” section. Unfortunately, it’s an application designed for the traditional desktop environment, and is not aware of desktop scaling. The result being that it displays in a small window lost on the Yoga 900’s desktop (which here I have set to 200% scaling, rather than the recommended 250%. If it were to be at the recommended setting, then the LSC window would be even smaller):

clip_image034

LSC needs to be brought up to date for today’s world of high resolution desktops.

Lenovo REACHit and SHAREit

I’m not the target customer for these two apps. I live almost entirely inside the Microsoft ecosystem. I don’t own any Apple or Android products, and I use OneDrive, not DropBox or any other cloud storage service. Via OneDrive, I can easily share information with friends and family even though they may live equally exclusively in Apple or Android ecosystems. So REACHit and SHAREit seem to offer me no added value. As a result, I don’t use them.

OneKey Recovery

This is a system image backup and recovery utility. It can be invoked from within Windows, or directly from the BIOS via a physical button (recessed) on the right hand side of the Yoga 900. It can be used to take backups of a running system and restore them, or restore the Yoga 900 to its original factory state, using a recovery image stored on a hidden disk partition.

Windows 10 (and Windows 8.1 before it) also has the ability to restore the Yoga 900 to its original factory state, so OneKey Recovery is no longer the essential utility that it once was. However, in the event of a complete failure of Windows, it can be a lifesaver, offering a restore to Windows 10 in its factory state at the push of a single button.

Software summary

With a few exceptions (e.g. the Battery Gauge), I remain somewhat unconvinced about the value-add of Lenovo’s software. For the most part, however, you can choose whether to use them or not, and uninstall them if you so wish.


[1] Windows 10 does know about photo metadata, and you can use File Explorer to search on photo tags.

About Geoff Coupe

I'm a British citizen, although I have lived and worked in the Netherlands since 1983. I came here on a three year assignment, but fell in love with the country, and one Dutchman in particular, and so have stayed here ever since. On the 13th December 2006 I also became a Dutch citizen.
This entry was posted in Computers and Internet. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to The Lenovo Yoga 900 – Software

  1. Pingback: The Lenovo Yoga 900 – A Review | Geoff Coupe's Blog

  2. Pingback: Lenovo Yoga 900 reviews and how it fares against the Yoga 3 Pro

  3. BD says:

    I have had a Yoga 900 for approx. 30 days. 12/17/15
    I upgraded to Windows 10 Pro.
    Since the upgrade it does not work with office 365 2016 office.
    Lenovo says it is not compatible with Windows 10 Pro!
    This is a real problem for business applications and networking.
    I returned the Lenovo and exchanged for a Surface Pro 4 with Windows 10 pro already installed.

    • Geoff Coupe says:

      Well, I don’t know who in Lenovo told you that the Yoga 900 isn’t compatible with Windows 10 Pro, but that’s absolute nonsense. The Yoga 900 that I reviewed is running both Windows 10 Pro and Office 365.

  4. Stefano says:

    I had a problem installing new software…I tried to restore it and it shutted down completely…! No way to turn it on again…and Novo button not working !
    When I purchased it directly from Lenovo I also bought an on-site warranty package but ther is no assistance number !!
    Not even possible to return it to Digital River as they do not answer to the email ….
    Really a horrible customer care…!!

    • Geoff Coupe says:

      Stefano, I don’t know what country you are in, but you should be able to contact Lenovo for support of your Yoga 900. Here’s the support page for the Yoga 900 in the US:
      http://support.lenovo.com/us/en/products/laptops-and-netbooks/yoga-series/yoga-900-13isk?linkTrack=Homepage:Body_Browse%20Products%7CSub-Series%20Selected&beta=null

      You should be able to change this page to that of your country (top right of the web page).

      • Stefano says:

        Thanks Geoff for your info. I live in Italy and if you buy on Lenovo’s web page , shipping and invoicing id from Digital River which is located in Shannon , Ireland.

        No one takes responsability. I called Lenovo’s assistance at 1.5 € a minute and what they suggested is…to contact iDigital River which , of course, has no phone number on the invoice and have no support line and has no procedures to send back defective products…!!

        Consider I also paid 84 € to have additional on-site assistance and the only thing I received is an invoice but no guidelines on how to handle in case of need…!!

        It is really a shame the lack of customer attention of this Company and its subsidiaries…

        Thanks !

  5. Andy_Lenovo says:

    Hello Stefano,
    at the bottom of the Lenovo.com/it/it homepage please click on the “+” next to Assitenza Clienti and then select Contattaci. This will bring you to a page offereing different support options, in this instance please choose “Informazioni sugli acquisti” immediately underneath Per Assistenza Online; this brings you to a page with questions, just click on the relevant question to proceed further… All that said I believe the following link is likely the one you are looking for;
    https://checkout.lenovo.com/store?Action=DisplayContactFormPage&Env=BASE&Locale=it_IT&SiteID=lenovoeu&ThemeID=38225200#contactcs

    • Stefano says:

      Thanks apepper ! I think that as I bought an extra on-site assistance…..at least they should have sent an assistance detail as Dell and other manufactirer do….!!
      In any case thanks for your assistance ! Appreciated. !

  6. Stefano says:

    One more question…I am trying to install Samaung Printer drivers and scan programmm but Windows 10 tell me I need tu unloch author …!

    I looked on the web on how to do that but didn’t really find concrete answers…

    Can someone tell me how to do it ? Thanks

  7. Pingback: The Lenovo Yoga 900s – a Review | Geoff Coupe's Blog

  8. Omar says:

    Hi Geoff,
    – I’m having a problem with high dpi (it wasn’t working fine at first)
    http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_10-hardware/signature-edition-lenovo-yoga900-hidpi-scalling/30813eda-6492-43c5-94ac-cc150a090c66?tm=1464772043316&auth=1
    – So I tried to do a factory reset but I couldn’t get the factory reset to work:
    https://forums.lenovo.com/t5/Lenovo-Yoga-Series-Notebooks/Yoga-900-13ISK2-Restore-factory-image/m-p/3341015#M41731
    Can you please help me in any of these?

    • Geoff Coupe says:

      Hi Omar, I’ve been responding to you over in the Lenovo forum, but it’s probably worth reiterating things here for the benefit of others.

      The factory reset issue is probably caused by the fact that you have a “Signature Edition” of the Yoga 900. That’s the branding that Microsoft use when they ship a product that has no “Bloatware” included. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Microsoft has removed the disk partition that stores the factory image of Windows that is used by the Novo OneKey recovery system of Lenovo. Since Windows 8, a factory reset of Windows is built in to Windows itself, so the Novo system is no longer needed.

      As for the DPI issue, I’m not sure what is going on. It’s possible that having done a Windows Reset, you are missing a specific Lenovo driver that is not in the standard Windows image. This may be fetched and installed if you let Windows Update run. Alternatively, use the driver update facility that is contained in the Lenovo Companion app. If all else fails, you can download specific Lenovo drivers from the support site.

      • Omar says:

        Hi Coupe, Thanks for your reply.
        As I learnt on lenovo forums, the signature edition is actually lenovo’s signature edition not Microsoft’s.
        About the hidpi problem, I already tried all the drivers and all the windows updates, the one thing that worked is doing a special workaround for each program by changing a registry value and adding a manifest file for each program (not very neat, not liking it but it’s the only thing that worked so far).
        What I wanted to ask you about is, have you ever faced any hidpi scalling problems? like incredibly tiny icons and text in some programs? What programs did you try out so far ?

  9. Greg says:

    I’m having trouble accessing my Lenovo Yoga 900 after my last Window 10 update. On the window start up page I enter the same old pin number before the update and now I’m unable to gain access. I’m told it is an incorrect number. Any suggestion? I’m able to access another computer or the computer owner page, as another user on the computer but not my accounts from my account. Looking for suggestions…

    • Geoff Coupe says:

      Are you sure that your PC is asking for your PIN? I’ve noticed that on PCs that have had the Anniversary Update installed, the login reverts to asking for your Password, even though you have had it set up to ask for the PIN. If that’s the case, click on the “Sign-in options” under the password field, and re-choose the PIN option.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s