Many people specifically want a Windows machine because of the comfort of knowing that the version of Microsoft Office that they have is exactly the same as that of their colleagues.
- ThinkPad Edge E530 15.6″ 750GB 6GB i5 3.1GHz $669*
- ThinkPad Edge E430 14″ 500GB ATA 4GB+4GB($160) i7 2.1GHz $999
- ThinkPad W530 15.6″ 500GB 8GB i7 3.7GHz $1,754
I do recommend buying the ThinkPad directly from Lenovo. There is little support advantage to be gained by purchasing through the dealer network and dealing directly with Lenovo makes sure that you are getting fresh equipment rather than a model stuck in the distribution chain. Purchasing directly may also minimize the pre-installed trialware that gets added in the supply chain. It also give you visibility into the distribution process (Direct shipment of the package from Shanghai) which is quite thought provoking.
There are now a number of viable options to Windows which are worthy of consideration as running a Windows machine tends to greatly increase your software costs. Microsoft Office costs five times that of the Apple equivalent. It is, after all, the software provider that drives the Windows platform. The software provided on Chrome OS as an alternative to Windows is free, though less functional. While the Apple software is optimal for most users it is less widely used in corporate environments and Apple users can find themselves having to purchase Microsoft Office for OSX. LibreOffice, which is free and Pages from Apple both provide import and export to Word but some layout features including fonts and change tracking may not port so if you are doing a lot of collaborative layout work with Windows users you will have to purchase Microsoft Office if you use Windows or not.
Software wise I recommend the following purchased with a Windows machine:
- Microsoft Office Home and Student $149*
or if you need Outlook instead of Thunderbird or webmail/gmail then:
- Microsoft Office Business $229
* Best Options
If you are able to choose your operating environment then check out my list of best laptops at different price points regardless of operating system.