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Windows RT tablets come with MS Home and Student 2013 pre-installed (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote, and, soon, Outlook). Skype is also available. Installing apps is as easy as clicking install. IE is also available. The tablets are extremely light and portable and won't need to be removed from the bag at airports like 12"+ laptops.
Surface w/ Touch Cover is $400 Surface 2 with Touch cover is $530 Surface 2 with Touch Cover 2 is $570 Surface 2 with Type Cover 2 is $580
I know a lot of people here can't stand Windows RT, but it may just work for your Mom. The functionality of a laptop that she needs is available, with the portability and simplistic operation/program installation of a tablet.
Edit: Add $100 to those prices for Surface 64GB/Surface 2 64GB. Also, Surface 2 comes with 200GB Skydrive for 2 years and Skype Premium for 1 year for free.
surface RT is a good choice but you'll need a keyboard for ms office
if it were me i'd get a base model thinkpad (a t-series for durability) and put a 128 gb ssd on it. it'll be less portable than a tablet but still easy to carry and you'll get more utility out of it
Just realized what QQ is from this post. If you go Windows RT for your mom, you could try this: http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/zh-cn/app/qq/f14c496c-0a59-4193-91ec-66f4c4cc0368 http://www.mobilityminded.com/14544/how-to-download-windows-8-and-rt-apps-from-another-region-location-or-country/
A few problems with Windows RT: 1. It's limited to Office RT. Her line of work requires high compatibility with document exchange. I prefer not to omit features on the x86 version.
2. She uses USB key authentication for some tasks. I do not know their compatibility with Windows RT.
3. Her attempt at using Mac has convinced me that the computer needs to be a model on which I can give effective help.
I like Thinkpads, but she hates them because they look like black rectangles. Maybe she'll like the -40 generation more, because it has a greyish tinge rather than the plain black, but I doubt it. Despite being in the right target audience for Thinkpads, she does not want to use one. A Latitude I might be able to convince her to use.
On a tangential note, the L series is the entry level traditional Thinkpad.
"...Ashley takes on Lord Blazer alone in a white cape with flowing rockstar hair while playing his impossibly cool sword as a guitar..." - LBoksha
Remote Desktop requires reconfiguration of any firewalls that the machine may be behind, if she's on the road that may not be an option. I would recommend Logmein or Teamviewer. Also, Remote Desktop locks the local user out of their session while you're connected to the machine, Logmein and Teamviewer allow you to work in tandem with the user so you can have them demonstrate problems and show them solutions, rather than having to try to explain them.