Microsoft acknowledges the Chromebook threat, plans to “redefine” the value category

dell venue 8 pro

Last year, I suggested Microsoft was feeling the heat from Chromebooks: Why else would the company invest in a Scroogled ad campaign to show how much better Windows is than Google’s Chrome OS? I received a fair share of criticism on my stance back then, but on Monday, Microsoft confirmed my thoughts, essentially admitting that Chromebooks need to be taken seriously.

Speaking at the Windows Partner Conference, Microsoft COO Kevin Turner had this to say according to The Verge:

“We are going to participate at the low-end. We’ve got a great value proposition against Chromebooks, we are not ceding the market to anyone.”

Along with the statement, Turner showed off the following slide that highlights how Windows computers will tackle Chromebooks head-on: Though low-cost laptops offering features that Chromebooks either can’t or don’t:

chromebooksmsft

From a price perspective, these devices — as well as some new small Windows 8.1 tablets coming down the pike at or under $99 later this year along with $199 laptops — will surely give consumers pause before purchasing a Chromebook. Helping these prices is Microsoft’s reduction, and in some cases, elimination of the licensing fee for Windows 8.1.

However, the success of stemming Chromebook sales will have just as much to do with the overall experience these laptops and tablets actually provide. While Microsoft’s list of things a Chromebook can’t do is accurate — although I’m not sure consumers care about everything on that list — what a Chromebook does do, it does extremely well and without much of the overhead that comes with a Windows system. That’s one of the advantages to a “lighter” operating system.

Asus Chromebook C200 angle

The tricky part for Microsoft is that many of its key hardware partners don’t just make Windows devices; many have decided to jump into the Chromebook game as well. Think Dell, Lenovo, HP, Acer and Asus to name a few.

It’s also telling that these Windows computer makers have broadened their products to include support for Chrome OS over the past two years. It’s as if they knew back then what Microsoft is only recently learning: Google’s Chromebook strategy to usurp computing experiences shouldn’t be taken lightly.

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