Chromebook sales accounted for 21 percent of all U.S. notebook sales at the end of 2013 — a figure Microsoft has definitely taken note of. Speaking during Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference recently, Microsoft’s chief operating officer Kevin Turner detailed one of the company’s new strategies to take on the super-affordable Chromebooks being pushed out by Google’s partners, many of which are also Microsoft’s allies.
Turner detailed a new HP “Stream” laptop that will reportedly hit the market before this holiday season and will run consumers just $199, about the price of some Chromebooks. There are existing Windows PC notebooks that are already in that price range — the Dell Inspiron i3531-1200BK costs just $249 on Amazon — but the Stream is just a start. Microsoft is also working with HP on 6-inch and 7-inch HP Stream PCs that will cost about $99, The Verge said, though at those sizes these are almost certainly tablets. Turner did not detail specs of the Stream laptop or discuss if it will run Windows 8.1 RT or the full version of Windows 8.1
Chromebooks have found success because of the simplicity of Chrome OS, which is basically a beefier version of the Chrome web browser. Additionally, Google is adding new features like Android phone notification support and Android apps, which is going to make it more desirable. Low-cost Windows machines may help Microsoft, but the low price won’t be the only answer.