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$ 600 Chromebooks are a dangerous development for Microsoft



Among the novelties presented this week at the IFA in Berlin are some premium Chromebooks. Lenovo's 600-euro Chromebook features high-end styling and materials for the Chromebook, as well as well-equipped internals and a high-quality screen. Dell's 600-euro Inspiron Chromebook 14 has slightly lower specifications, but at the same time offers better design, larger screens with better quality and better specifications for the Chromebook.

These systems are already joining some other premium Chromebooks. The HP Chromebook x2 is a convertible hybrid launched a few months ago with a cost of $ 600. Samsung has had Chromebook Plus and Pro systems for over a year. And of course, Google's Pixelbook is an astronomically expensive Chrome OS device.

These systems were supposed to cause waves in Redmond.

Most Chrome OS systems are cheap: plastic instead of metal; TN indicates instead of IPS; Screen resolution, which was narrow and low a decade ago; Cheap ARM processors instead of more powerful and more expensive Intel processors. In many ways, Chromebooks get the same prices – with the same tradeoffs – as netbooks did in the mid-2000s. This has brought Chromebooks a huge appeal in the K12 education market, where the low price and almost disposable nature of the devices make them well suited for careless students.

But these 600-dollar machines are not aimed at the same students. Lenovo employees have told us that the new Chromebook was developed as the company saw demand for Chromebooks from users with slightly more disposable income. For example, new students who've used Chrome OS in high school and families who want the ruggedness of Chrome OS are looking for machines that are more attractive, use better materials, and are a little faster and more powerful. The 600-dollar machines correspond to this role.

And that's why Microsoft should be worried. This demand shows a few things. Perhaps most importantly, the Chrome OS mix of web applications, possibly augmented with Android applications, will be enough for a growing segment of home and educational users. Windows still has the full application advantage, but the relevance of these applications is decreasing as web applications continue to improve. A browser and the web are enough to meet the needs of a large number of users. No windows necessary, not even the browser to use .

Secondly, this requirement makes clear that the presence of Chrome OS at school creates sustained interest and even commitment to the platform. High school students want to maintain this familiar environment as they move on. The ecosystem they belong to is not the Windows ecosystem. Finally, it also shows that Chrome OS's relatively clean-slate approach (sure, it's Linux below, but it's not really run as a kind of traditional Linux software) has benefits that are also appealing to home users , The locked and highly secure Chrome OS devices require little maintenance and are largely immune to most existing malware. And platform cloud synchronization means that even tasks like backups can be largely avoided. Microsoft might try to do the same with Windows, especially Windows 10 S-mode, but it will require a more radical transition to Windows in order to truly compete with Chrome OS in this regard.

Not Only Bad for Windows [19659017] That's bad news for Windows. The position of Windows in the consumer sector has already been greatly eroded by the rise of the smartphone and the associated loss of the smartphone market on Android and iOS. But the expansion of Chrome OS through K12 education to college and home environments means the PC is under attack. The traditional third-party application benefits are, at best, irrelevant in many situations, and in the worst case unjustified. If Windows was the place where a browser would run, it could stay in those hypermarkets. However, if you only want to run a browser, Chrome OS will undoubtedly have advantages over Windows.

Over time, this will also be incorporated into the division. It will not go right away as the corporate world has much more inertia to overcome, but if these students take the next step in their lives and get jobs, that preference for Chrome OS will not go away. It may take a while for these people to be in decision-making positions, but they will be there on time and they will not have the same standard, almost reflective preference for Windows that is currently the norm. Chrome OS will move into the desktop of the company.

The consumer market and the company are not clearly separate markets. One influences the other …

The naïve answer to this is to say that it does not matter; Finally, Microsoft understands that Windows is in a difficult position, which is why the company prioritizes the cloud and its business offerings. However, this ignores the intertwining of both Microsoft and Google offerings.

These Chrome OS users are probably not just using Chrome OS. You probably also use Google Apps. Mainstream productivity, one of Microsoft's most important cash cows, is handled by Google's online services – perhaps not for every student, every time, but for part of them. Again, this preference will continue to spread: Office 365 will no longer be tied to the desktop office apps, but will become much less appealing or interesting, and the Google suite will be the one with the name recognition and experience edge. Key elements of Microsoft's cloud business are being undermined, not just losing Windows. The contagion is likely to grow even further: Microsoft's reduced visibility can make it even harder to sell other cloud services like Azure.

The consumer space and the enterprise are not cleanly separated markets. One affects the other, and losing the Mindshare on the one hand can reduce the range on the other.

So far, Microsoft's main answer seems to have been the Windows 10 S mode running on netbook-priced PCs, and maybe the Surface Go (although a Surface Go with a keyboard cover is much more expensive than the cheap Chromebooks and starts to compete with these pricier ones). But Windows itself remains a liability in this regard. Windows 10 S computers are not as severely restricted as Chrome OS systems. You have more opportunities to do something wrong.

At the moment, the success of Chrome OS seems limited and fairly American. If so, the impact on both the consumer and business sectors should be reduced. Nonetheless, this kind of development is not only bad news for Microsoft's position in the consumer market; It's bad news for the entire Microsoft business.

Listing image by Lenovo


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