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back to article Microsoft takes on Chromebook with low-cost Windows laptops

Microsoft’s chief salesman Kevin Turner has tried to turn his company’s crushing lateness on devices into a positive for the sake of partners and employees. Speaking at the company’s annual partner conference, chief operating officer Turner cast mighty Microsoft as the plucky challenger with nowhere to go but grow as the world …

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but now PCs aren't big

From my desk I see about about 10 PCs without rotating my head, with an average of about 1.9 PCs per desk. Also about 1 smartphone per desk

Can't see any slabs they must all be behind me.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: but now PCs aren't big

Handhelds are a growing market (aka band wagon).

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Re: but now PCs aren't big

Don't you mean shrinking market? I thought iPad sales had slumped 22% year-on-year at the last report.

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"Windows Azure added 42,000 customers during the last year"

Is it just me, or does that sound pretty feeble?

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Azure is not a consumer product, so yeah, 42,000 is a lot

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Unless they are also counting every Office365 and visualstudio.com that uses Azure as the backend.

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>>"Unless they are also counting every Office365 and visualstudio.com that uses Azure as the backend."

Which they're obviously not or the number would be a very great deal higher than 42,000.

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Also, $2bn revenue for sharepoint, at the prices I have seen suggest that they have one and a half paying customers...

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Anonymous Coward

"Azure is not a consumer product, so yeah, 42,000 is a lot"

Not if you consider half of those at least were probably coin miners signing up for multiple free trials for some free cpu runtime...

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I would think many businesses would be very pleased with 42,000 new business customers.

That is customer aka new accounts, that isn't users.

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Which they're obviously not or the number would be a very great deal higher than 42,000.

Yep, Office365 was celebrated with "millions" of sales in the first year and the fastest growing sector, so 42,000 isn't including Office365.

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Anonymous Coward

a netbook by any other name would stink as much

Maybe they'll surprise us all for a change, but it sounds like these will run like a dog on the hardware, Netbook v2

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Re: a netbook by any other name would stink as much

I'll agree with you here. I just bought 6x Toshiba A6 Quad core laptops with touch screen for my son's school, these are running 8.1 and have all the nonsense removed and they are not a smooth experience by any stretch of the imagination, so I hate to think what 8.1 runs like on v.low cost hardware like say a Netbook...

Chromebooks maintain a super low price as the OS is little more than an X window running the Chrome browser and little or no storage - my mother has one and loves it , perfect for her use.

Maybe Microsoft have something up their sleeve .. but I doubt it.

Specs for one of the listed low cost notebooks. ( ES-1 )

Windows 8.1 - 64-bit - Intel® Celeron® N2830 processor (2.16GHz/2.41GHz w/ Intel® Burst) - 4GB DDR3L memory - 500GB hard drive - 15.6" HD widescreen CineCrystal™ display (1366 x 768) - Intel® HD graphics - stereo speakers - HD audio - webcam - multi-gesture touchpad - Wireless - Bluetooth® 4.0 - HDMI® - USB 3.0 - card reader - 3-cell battery - 1-year limited warranty. Color: Diamond Black

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Re: a netbook by any other name would stink as much

If they are any good they destroy the single market that actually wants Windows8.1

So expect Netbook2.0

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Re: a netbook by any other name would stink as much

I thought commentards thought Netbooks are amazingly awesome - or do they cease being so when MS bring out 'Netbook v2'?

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Re: a netbook by any other name would stink as much

Netbooks were/are amazingly awesome. Until Microsoft got/get their hands on them, that is.

My acer aspire one (running Ubuntu) is still great for writing documents on the train, for example.

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Re: a netbook by any other name would stink as much

1366x768...

Oh be-still my beating heart...

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Re: a netbook by any other name would stink as much

>>"I thought commentards thought Netbooks are amazingly awesome - or do they cease being so when MS bring out 'Netbook v2'?"

Actually, I dislike them regardless. An underpowered device is no good to me.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: a netbook by any other name would stink as much

>An underpowered device is no good to me.

That's what your wife said......

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Re: a netbook by any other name would stink as much

Just for comparison, the Apollo 11 guidance computer (A11GC) that took Armstrong et al to the Moon back in 1969 ran at 1.024MHz internally, half that externally. That's MEGAHertz, not the GigaHertz we're talking about with these netbooks. A11GC had 4 16-bit general-purpose registers, the Core i7 has 16 registers in 64-bit mode. A11GC had 2KB of RAM; the average netbook will have about 1,048,576 times as much. Mass storage on the A11GC was 32KB - again, about 1,048,576 times less than what you'll be getting in a small netbook.

I guess "underpowered" is a relative term...Or is everyone apart from me doing stuff several orders of magnitude more difficult than putting a man on the moon?

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Re: "underpowered" is a relative term.

"Or is everyone apart from me doing stuff several orders of magnitude more difficult than putting a man on the moon?"

Yes. We are trying to use Microsoft Word

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Re: a netbook by any other name would stink as much

Having Windows 8.1 on a previous generation Atom tablet (Clovertrail) running at 1.6Ghz, with 64GB storage and 2GB RAM, I have to say it runs very nicely.

That said, I don't have any of the crudware that Toshiba normally pre-installs and cripples even high end hardware.

It certainly runs MS Office very smoothly. It is certainly more efficient than Windows 7 on low-end hardware. The tablet boots to the desktop faster than my Core i5 desktop at work, which has Windows 7 Pro on it.

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Re: a netbook by any other name would stink as much

Actually, this looks like the Toshiba: http://www.toshiba.com/us/computers/laptops/satellite/C50/C55-B5299.

Around 2kg, only 2GB RAM and poor resolution for the screen size and not very beefy (not removable) battery.

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Re: a netbook by any other name would stink as much

Netbooks were/are amazingly awesome. Until Microsoft got/get their hands on them, that is.

It was only the ones with XP that sold in any volume but the concept was really hampered by the restrictions that Intel placed on them, limiting screen size, etc.

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Re: a netbook by any other name would stink as much

> the Apollo 11 guidance computer (A11GC)

> ran at 1.024MHz internally, half that externally

It also only did one thing, and almost didn't do that given that they had to restart it a few times during the landing run.

The i7-860 I'm using is running 48 background processes with less than 1% CPU use. Times change, as do usage models.

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Re: a netbook by any other name would stink as much

I think you need all the processing power to install the Windows updates.

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Windows

I've not had any problems at all with Windows 8, even on low powered machines, but I know I'm one of those rare cases who actually likes those tiles'n'all.

These low powered machines sound like a good backup plan. One of the reasons I moved away from my Mac was the worry that if it broke beyond repair then I would have a helluva lot of money to spend for even a simple means of accessing my data in a meaningful way. To have the option of a low cost solution is a nice safety net, even if for a short term.

As for Chromebooks, I admit that I don't get (or 'grok') them at all. I don't see them as powerful or even versatile enough to be of any use without an internet connection and that is a very big deal for me. But, the fact that so many people are buying them tells me that the issue must be mine and not theirs (unlike Beverley 'phoar' Crusher who once said "If there's nothing wrong with my mind there must be something wrong with the universe").

It's one thing to use the cloud, but it seems to me that to depend on the cloud for day-to-day operations is opening up too many process weaknesses.

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Anonymous Coward

Accessing data , and Chromebooks

This is in fact one of my biggest complaints about my Chromebook (C720).

You create a Google Document. Where's the backup? If you are syncing locally using the Drive software then you're covered, right?

No. Check the local file copy and you'll find your Google Document is a tiny file containing a URL to the online one. NO BACKUP.

Couple that with the fact that natively you cannot create a plain text file in the web UI (WTF Google?) and basically they are pushing you into their own file formats accessible only by their own tools. The very thing they complain Microsoft do with Office formats.

Microsoft have their faults, and their file formats are far from great, but they don't reach the level of Google evil inherent in this attempted lock-in.

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Holmes

It's one thing to use the cloud, but it seems to me that to depend on the cloud for day-to-day operations is opening up too many process weaknesses.

You know this. I know this. Pretty much everyone else reading this story understands this. But, and I've said this before, Joe & Jane public have been sold a lie - that "the cloud" is some sort of panacea that is always available, always there, 100% reliable.

Whereas we all know that "the cloud" is nothing much more than a bunch of server farms, some (occasionally pretty good, admittedly) management software and a shiny UI for the end user, the average non-techie user has swallowed, hook line and sinker, the marketing bullshit that they can rely on the magic cloud, and never need think about looking after their data again.

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Re: One of the reasons I moved away from my Mac

> was the worry that if it broke beyond repair then I would have a helluva lot of money to spend for even a simple means of accessing my data in a meaningful way.

Presumably you weren't using any Mac only programs (because you would have the same problem migrating.)

So the problem would be disk format. The Mac can use FAT and NTFS media (some versions need an add-on to be able to write to NTFS). So Backing up to an external drive would be no issue and be accessible.

Unless you were using Time machine. In that case, if your Mac failed you would need to restore to a working Mac. However, the likely failure is either the harddrive or something else (i.e. not the hard drive *and* something else). So if it is the HD, you just replace it and restore, if it isn't you remove the HD and put it in a USB enclosure and access it via Linux.

The problem seems very artificial.

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Re: Accessing data , and Chromebooks

"You create a Google Document. Where's the backup?"

Is it here? http://nsa.gov1.info/utah-data-center/

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Happy

Re: Accessing data , and Chromebooks

I don't think you're right about that. In the last month Chromebooks (and Drive on Chrome) allows offline working, including new document creation. And it will work with MS native formats - so you can store locally if you want.

https://support.google.com/drive/answer/1628514?hl=en&ref_topic=1628465

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Accessing data , and Chromebooks

You can create offline backups of your documents - real offline backups to view and edit on Chromebook. These work regardless of having an internet connection.

Text editing is available from a number of addons or directly in Chrome create a link to or paste into the URL box in Chrome: data:text/html, <html contenteditable> and you have a notepad.

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Re: Accessing data , and Chromebooks

So Microsoft need an OS to run on cheap chromebook-spec hardware? To provide a device with the ability to create local content, but with an eye to using cloud services and storage? Is Windows 8.1 with Bing the new name for Windows RT?

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Agree re cloud. Depending on it for day to day operations is a bit like living in your car. Awful in many ways but hey, your house now on wheels, how convenient is that ?

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Re: Accessing data , and Chromebooks

Open docs.google.com

Create new document, add some random text

File -> Email as attachment

Set filetype to plain text

There, you just created a plain text version using the Google Docs web interface.

As for the backup being with Google, rather than on my computer, I'm pretty confident that Google have better backup processes in place than I'll ever manage at home. They've previously shown that even gmail gets backed up to tape.

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Holmes

Re: One of the reasons I moved away from my Mac

@Jess

"However, the likely failure is either the harddrive or something else" -- Yesssssssssssssss

Anyway, artificial? Let's see if I can put this in terms you'll understand;

I had one MacBook and my fear was that if this one MacBook broke beyond repair, in order to do my computery things, I would have to pay a premium to buy a new one (and your solution of having a separate Linux machine as a standby sounds like a desperate argument to prove I'm an Apple hater). With me so far? Right? I just didn't want to be without a computer that I could use.

So, because I didn't want to have to fork out a lot of money for a new Apple computer, I decided not to rely on one any more.

Don't take it personally just because someone said they didn't stay with a Mac. It's not an insult against you, actually it wasn't even an insult against your computer. If anything, it was an insult against me because I don't have a job where I can afford to poop MacBooks from out of my bottom.

There, are we Ok now?

Good.

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@R 11

I'm pretty confident that Google have better backup processes in place than I'll ever manage at home.

I don't disagree, but it's still (from my end user perspective) a single point of failure. We all know how bad an idea it is to only have one backup, surely?

However it's not just being reliant on someone else's backup processes that concerns me. If I'm reliant on cloud services, then I'm reliant on broadband access to get to my data. Until the day comes that broadband is ubiquitous everywhere (and even here in a developed part of the world that is far from being the case) that's just not practical.

Don't get me wrong - I have no problem with using cloud services, but they are just an additional backup, and a convenience.

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Re: Accessing data , and Chromebooks

I back up my documents as ODF, of course. It's a non-proprietary format, unlike Office formats, and fully supported by Docs. I also use InSync Pro to replicate Drive files to my Ubuntu workstation, and rsync to create snapshots for offline backup under my personal control, so I'm not dependent on the Google or MS cloud.

I added a free text editor from Play to my Chromebook. Like Docs, and in fact most of my tools and games, it works just fine offline.

If you want more than Chrome offers, though, load Crouton, an Ubuntu distribution tailored for Chromebooks - even if you have an ARM Chromebook (unlike MS ARM devices, Google always provides a simple keystroke to unlock the bootloader). It runs simultaneous to Chrome (no disk-boot or VM - same kernel) and is light enough for low-end hardware. Unity works well with touch on my C720P, too.

So I guess I miss completely any mechanisms at all by which Googly is seeking anything resembling Microsoft's epic levels of lock-in. Have you ever used a Chromebook?

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Will have to remove the bloat first

I'm afraid Microsoft has forgotten all how they managed to make us buy new computers in order to runcrawl their latest OS.

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Six to ten years ago I was buying basic desktops for about £200 (no monitor). Now they are up to at least £300? Often more than a basic laptop. Yet here we have £150 laptops. So where is my basic £150 desktop? They are not selling cheap windows desktops because everyone has abandoned competing in the market and dell bankrupted all the small producers.

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Plenty about

Here you go: http://www.ebuyer.com/store/Computer/cat/Desktop-PC?price=100+TO+150

Some from £99 if you trade in.

Mostly from Zoostorm - small producer in Birmingham. Seem to be doing pretty well,

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Re: Plenty about

Zoostorm = CMS = VIP Computers = Warrington

TFIFY

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Re: Plenty about

You forgot;

== absolute rubbish

Had to replace virtually every piece of hardware in my stepdads Zoostorm, and all before it was even a year old (PSU only lasted around 8 months before going "boom").

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Plenty about

"and all before it was even a year old"

Soooo... when it was still under warranty? Seems an odd thing to do.

Curious though, Are the parts in their PCs any different from any other cheap PCs? I'd imagine that they are fairly generic...

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"Windows 8.1 with Bing" - if anything is going to ensure punters avoid it like the plague that's it.

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I stopped reading at "with Windows"

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Anonymous Coward

My netbook v1 runs Linux just fine

So a Netbook v2 will be perfect for an update.

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Mushroom

If Microsoft's cheap version of W8 is called "Windows 8.1 with Bing", does that mean that they are saying adding Bing to Windows 8.1 equals a cheaper (i.e. inferior) product? Sounds an awful lot like it to me.

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I believe "Windows 8.1 with Bing" is Windows RT with a slightly less annoying UI and a few other bug fixes.

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