In my previous post on Chromebooks, I remarked that Microsoft wouldn’t try the same trick twice (as it did to kill Linux on netbooks) by releasing cheap WIndows 8 notebooks to try to kill off Chromebooks, especially since they still had the Surface’s lackluster sales to grapple with.
However, it turns out Microsoft does plan to do just that, after all. Coming this fall will be two cheap laptops: a 15.6″ Acer for $249 (with specs that don’t seem any different from the current cheap Windows laptops), and a Toshiba with Chromebook-like specs (11.6″ screen, a solid-state hard drive) for $249. Also supposedly coming are a $199 Windows laptop (presumably also with Chromebook-like specs) and several cheap Windows-based tablets (for $99).
Ultimately, if the goal’s to completely kill off Chromebooks (versus coexisting alongside them saleswise) I still don’t think things will work the same for Microsoft this time around. While these will be the same price and specs as Chromebooks, there’s the question of how well Windows 8.1 will run on these machines. Even if they run adequately, there’s the fact that there’s already cheap Windows laptops on sale priced the same as Chromebooks, yet Chromebooks are still selling. Besides the chief differences between netbooks and Chromebooks I previously outlined, there’s also another big difference this time around. Unlike Windows XP (which the public liked more than the unfamiliar-to-the-public Linux distros netbooks ran), Windows 8 isn’t as popular, no matter what hardware form factor it’s on.
Of course, I expect the Chromebook-like Windows laptops to sell since it’s, well, Windows, but I don’t think this will be Chromebooks’ swan song. I expect Google won’t be taking this lying down and will fire back somehow… their planned integration of Android with Chrome OS/Chromebooks will probably be a big selling point.