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Microsoft takes the battle to Google Chromebooks

by Mark Tyson on 15 July 2014, 09:30

Tags: Hewlett Packard (NYSE:HPQ), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Windows 8, Chrome OS

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Microsoft is holding its Worldwide Partner Conference right now, until 17th July, in Washington DC. One of the most interesting things yesterday was hearing how Microsoft is going to combat the Google Chromebook threat. We've already heard about some ways Microsoft is making Windows cheaper or free for entry level devices depending upon price and screen sizes on offer. Now we have some details of the notebooks which will be the first to battle against the Chromebooks, made by partners such as HP, Acer and Toshiba.

The headline figure for the entry price for new Windows laptops has been set at $199. Microsoft COO Kevin Turner told conference attendees that HP has such a laptop which is expected to be released in time for the 'holiday season'. HP refer to this computer as the 'Stream' device, reports The Verge, however we weren't informed about any specs for this laptop. It was also revealed that HP would make 7-inch and 8-inch versions of its 'Stream' PCs starting from $99, also before Xmas

Slide via The Verge

Microsoft's COO did show a slide detailing two other budget priced notebooks however. Above you can see the slide showing Acer's 15.6-inch Aspire ES1 which is already available for around $249 in the US and about £230 here in the UK with VAT included. Toshiba is also said to be readying a $249 Windows laptop in time for Xmas. Toshiba's budget device will have an 11.6-inch screen, weigh under 1.1Kg (2.4lb) and come with a 32GB SSD installed.

While Microsoft partners are targeting the magic $199 figure with their new laptops Google has a chance to make Chromebooks even cheaper thanks to a new MediaTek chip, reports 9to5 Google. We hear that a budget quad-core ARM based MediaTek SoC, running at 1.5GHz, has been added to the Chromium OS base.

You can see Microsoft's six main assertions about why Windows laptops are better than Google Chromebooks in the slide above. What do HEXUS readers think about this list of comparative benefits of Windows (laptops) and do you think that Microsoft can successfully quash the Chromebook threat with $199 Windows laptops?



HEXUS Forums :: 9 Comments

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But is it sustainable? If they succeed and Chromebooks go away, will these still be around or will prices shoot up again? Are these machines crippled the way Netbooks were to kill them off?
The question should be "How many people do you know who have 'accidentally' purchased a ChromeBook, only to send it back again" lol.
The Verge, however we weren't informed about any specs for this laptop. It was also revealed that HP would make 7-inch and 8-inch versions of its 'Stream' PCs starting from $99, also before Xmas

Microsoft's COO did show a slide detailing two other budget priced notebooks however. Above you can see the slide showing Acer's 15.6-inch Aspire ES1 which is already available for around $249 in the US and about £230 here in the UK with VAT included. Toshiba is also said to be readying a $249 Windows laptop in time for Xmas. Toshiba's budget device will have an 11.6-inch screen, weigh under 1.1Kg (2.4lb) and come with a 32GB SSD installed.
Specs listed don't exactly impress me - 7" or 8" screens and 32GB SSDs - these sound suspiciously like mainstream tablet specs not laptops. Which leads me to wonder if these are "full fat" Windows or Windows RT.

Just checked PC World's site and there's Pac-Bell, Advent, Asus and Compaq full laptops at, or below, that magic £249 price point. And these mostly have 15"+ screens and 300GB+ of storage. So, all in all, I'm not impressed with these latest devices unless that "$249" is covered to "£145", then it's definitely reasonable.

Microsoft, let's not have a repeat of the netbook fiasco where you not only managed to strongarm the vendors into dropping those lightweight (but uniformly crap*) Linux distros, and then delivered a Windows OS equivalent that was restricted and slow.

(*There's two netbooks in the house and both of them got reflashed with a proper Linux distro which worked a heck of a lot better than the "as supplied").
What do HEXUS readers think about this list of comparative benefits of Windows (laptops) and do you think that Microsoft can successfully quash the Chromebook threat with $199 Windows laptops?Can MS quash, or squash, Chromebook? Erm, dunno. I'm not entirely convinced they're necessarily directly competitive.

The comparative benefits? Rather depends on the user, and what they're after. For some, access to MS Office may be the killer feature, for instance. Others won't give a hoot about that.

Personally, between those two options, the decision is dead easy. I don't want a Chromebook, would not under any circumstances buy one, and wouldn't use it if given one. The reason is Google's attitude to privacy. I have an Android tablet, and even that never, EVER gets personal information. No calendar detail, no contacts, GPS off, no video or internet phone use, no personal banking, never access anything with an address (like Paypal), and the only email address I've ever mentioned is the one used to activate the tablet, which I've never used for anything else, and never even accessed since that tablet activation. I don't have a Google account, don't use Google as a search engine, and have never sent or received a single email on the tablet. And won't, until/unless I get around to a custom android mod, like cyanogen. The tablet is, essentially, a portable web browser (with, currently, Firefox and Opera, both fairly carefully locked down). Oh, and a couple of games, like Sudoku.

So between Chromebook and these fortcoming MS devices, all I can say is it won't be Chromebook.

The question for me is .... would it be the MS devices? And on that, only time will tell.

The real decision for me is low cost 'toy' laptop, or mid-range budget and a 'proper' laptop. And I'd want a lot more info about the new devices before making that call.
I have an ASUS T100A which i bought for 200 quid (had some discount). I've gotta admit its a pretty good device came with Windows and Office (non subscription version). it's fast enough for every day tasks, I can play stuff like Hearthstone on it well, and with a touch screen. There are some bad things however, 32gb storage isn't enough, the micro-sd card slot is not very protected - I've already snapped one card in half that has popped out the side. I owned a 10" Netbook before, and i've gotta say this is in a different league, the new bay-trail chips are ace.

If this laptop has been out for a while i don't see how the above news is big news? There are such laptops available now? If they are using the same or similar chips then they will have a very similar experience to already reviewed hardware.