Netbooks. Where did they go? I can easily say that netbooks emerged as a low cost portable computing solution. The issue became greed. See, those pesky netbooks actually ate away at those expensive laptops. The market softened and consumers weren’t willing to splurge like years past. So it did seem like collectively the manufacturers worked together to stunt the growth. Shortly thereafter Intel dreamed up the ultrabook concept. Pay more for a small light portable laptop that has heaps of power and features. The ultrabook did little to turn the tides. Microsoft and Windows 8 took a pounding lately which opened the door for Android and more recently, Google Chromebooks. See, this story is really about Chromebooks and how Microsoft has just now woken up to realize that they are going to eat away at their share in the market. Windows relevance or dwindling relevance in the future is what this story is really about.
Current Batch of $200 Netbooks – Updated For Late 2014
Here is a quick listing of what we consider the netbook 2.0. These lack touch screen displays, but at $200 what are you expecting?
The Asus X205TA is the current #1 selling laptop on Amazon.com. The reason? It’s super cheap and has enough versatility to satisfy most consumers. It’s highly portable with a great battery life. It features a full version of Windows 8.1 but the netbook itself does not have a touchscreen. Currently the X205 has a customer rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com.
Shop for the Asus X205
- Canada – Asus X205 at Microsoft Store Canada – Free Shipping – Free Returns
- #1 Best Seller – Asus X205 from Amazon.com – Free Shipping
HP Stream 11
The point I’m getting to is this. Apparently Microsoft is just now slashing their licensing fees from $50 to $15. One big catch of course. The device has to be priced less than $250. Beyond that price point, there is apparently no restrictions on this. See where this is going?
Microsoft needs to address the low end PC market because in fact it’s going the way of Google. If you consider the price point of Chromebooks, they are essentially a netbook. Microsoft did in the past offer the “Windows 7 Starter” edition which was geared to netbooks. See that was their way of allowing their partners to get the prices down on netbooks. No such luck with Windows 8 and getting a cheap netbook like laptop simply wasn’t feasible. You can’t call it a netbook if it’s priced $300+ can you? The result was that you saw the disappearance of netbooks. Instead you see convertibles which are walking and quacking like a netbook, but are being upsold as something else. Essentially Microsoft and partners ignored or neglected the low end PC market and has allowed Google to come right in there with their Chromebook which features their Google Chrome OS.
So clearly this licensing of $15 will allow Windows to once again dominate the low end PC market. Yes, the low end PC market (I call it netbooks) is something they need to keep around.
So consider what the near future holds. A portable, light laptop that will run a real edition of Windows 8, have good battery life, have decent graphic power, and costs $249 or less. It’s going to happen. In order to get a $15 Windows 8 deal, manufacturers will have to streamline. That means no touch screen. That means no detachable display aka convertible laptops. Regarding no touch screen, apparently the Windows update will mean that devices with no touch screen will automatically boot to desktop. Imagine that! Regarding these devices not being convertibles, I suppose it’s possible that at $249 somebody could come up with something. I can’t imagine it today, but perhaps Asus can pull it off.
So to me, netbooks will live again. In order to meet that price point of $249 or less, wouldn’t it have to be made cheaply as possible? Some talking heads out there wanted to consider “netbook” to mean gutless or useless, but I think in reality people associated netbooks as being a cheap portable computer. With Microsoft slashing their licensing fees to this extent, they are clearly making a bold and certainly humbling admission. The admission is that the marketplace has shifted. I think it’s a good move and I hope to see some new and interesting $249 laptops with Windows 8 in the very near future.