Microsoft is going to war with Google's Chromebooks. The Windows OS maker has announced that it is working with its hardware partners to ship low-cost Windows 8 laptops in time for the holidays that will take on Google's Chrome-powered systems. The Windows-based laptops, which will come from the likes of Acer, HP and Toshiba, will reportedly sell for between $199 and $250, with smaller models going for as little as $99.
According to The Verge, Microsoft COO Kevin Turner told the audience at the company's Worldwide Partner Conference that HP will release a new line of laptops called "Stream" PCs that run Windows and sell for $199. Turner went on to add that HP will eventually release 7- and 8-inch versions for just $99
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Microsoft didn't reveal any specs for HP's ultra low-cost laptops, though it did say that Acer and Toshiba will offer $249 notebooks with 15.6-inch and 11.6-inch displays, respectively. The Acer, dubbed the Aspire ES1, will feature a 2.16-GHz Intel Celeron processor with 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive. The Toshiba will also include a Celeron processor and come with a 32GB SSD.
Google's Chromebooks, which are made by Acer, HP, Samsung and Toshiba, generally cost between $199 and $249. Beyond their operating systems, the difference between Windows laptops and Chromebooks is that the former let you access all of your software without a Web connection. Chromebooks, on the other hand, sport many apps that are only accessible while you are online. Google is trying to address this with new offline apps.
With such low prices, it goes without saying that these Windows systems won't exactly be speed machines. If Microsoft is smart, though, it will ensure that these low-cost PCs are powerful enough for most users' daily tasks. What Microsoft wants to avoid is a repeat of the netbook, which shoppers ultimately abandoned for tablets and lower-cost, big-screen notebooks.
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