How low can laptops go? Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard are joining forces to make sure Google's Chromebook doesn't have the low-cost laptop market to itself. Microsoft is working with partners to create Windows laptops in the $199-$249 price range, one of which is the $199 HP Stream 14.
The Mobile Geeks Web site uncovered a service manual for the Stream 14 earlier this week. The 14-inch laptop seems like a bid for a place in the growing market for inexpensive, light-running laptops.
The HP Stream was announced at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference last month but no specifications were made public until this week.
We talked to Deron Kershaw, an analyst with Gap Intelligence in San Diego, about the brewing laptop battle.
"Windows sees its biggest advantage as the ability of its machines to run its legacy software," Kershaw told us. "They know that people love to be able to have access to Office."
How can Windows and HP team up on such an inexpensive machine? Component costs are falling, and as Bloomberg news reported earlier this year, Microsoft has drastically cut the licensing fee it charges hardware makers to use Windows on their machines in an effort to encourage the manufacture of systems costing less than $250.
The Stream also comes with 2 GB of memory and either 32 or 64 GB of flash storage. It includes an SDXC card slot, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, three USB ports, HDMI output and a 720p webcam, along with four speakers and support for Beats Audio. For cloud storage, it will come with 100 GB of OneDrive storage for two years, which might offset the relatively meager hard drive for some buyers.
The 3.9-pound Stream will run Windows 8.1, which might give some users pause. In comparison, the Chrome OS, because it runs on just the Linux OS kernel, a browser and some drivers, boots up almost instantly, a virtue that Windows computers have tended not to share.
"The 2 GB of RAM could be a concern for some buyers," Kershaw said. "A Chromebook can run on that just fine. But running full Windows in 2 GB might not offer as good a user experience."
The Stream follows on the heels of HP's $279 Chromebook 14. This won't mark the first time Windows has gone after a hardware competitor recently. It overtook Linux as the dominant platform when netbooks were the rage a few years ago.
HP isn't alone in its pursuit of the Chromebook market. Introduced a few weeks ago, Lenovo's B50-30 is another laptop entering the market at a familiar price point (less than $200). The Lenovo is powered by Intel's 2.16/2.41GHz dual-core Celeron N2830 processor and contains 4 GB of RAM, which can be expanded to a maximum of 8 GB.
Also, Dell is currently advertising a Windows 8.1 Inspiron 15 at a $249 list price. And if that isn't cheap enough, Microsoft COO Kevin Turner recently made reference to 7- and 8-inch HP Stream that might be available for around $100 during the holidays.
Posted: 2014-08-23 @ 9:42am PT
Dirt Cheap Laptops = netbooks: deja vu all over again!
Notice that no one is selling a "dirt cheap" Windows 7 laptop? It's because everyone knows that Windows 7 laptops are still selling like hotcakes because they're the only Windows laptop that anyone actually WANTS.
And dirt cheap laptops are not being proffered because of chromebooks. Chromebook sales are a drop in the bucket. Dirt cheap WINDOWS 8.xxxx laptops are being offerred as a last gasp measure to prop up the nearly dead Windows 8.xxxxx OS and it's a futile attempt to compete with the massive sales of iOS and Android tablets after the various Windows 8.xxxx tablet ventures lost close to 2 billion dollars for Microsoft and untold amounts for the rest of the industry.
And since Microsoft and their increasingly restive "partners" have NO arrows in their quiver for Christmas sales, they thought they'd dangle CHEAP laptops in front of the masses in one last gasp venture to stem the tide of iOS and Android. "Cheap (Windows 8.xxxx) laptops" is really just a reprise of the netbooks fiasco.
And it's not gonna work. The public isn't as stupid as they think they are.