Microsoft is currently hosting its Worldwide Partner Conference, where is outlines it future strategy and software ambitions with its hardware partners. While we weren’t expecting any surprises from this conference, we have in actual fact been blown away with Microsoft’s aggressive pricing strategy for Windows devices.
Primary among the announcements from Microsoft was a new category of ultra-cheap laptops which will nonetheless run the latest in Windows operating systems. As well as showing off the very affordable Acer Aspire Switch 10 which sells for just under $400, they also let us know of even cheaper models in the pipeline. One of them, currently being built by HP, and slated for a Fall release, will hit the market for a miniscule $199.
It’s not just laptops either. Microsoft has also acknowledged that it will need to fight to get consumers to start using Windows on tablets too. To achieve this, the company has made the decision to waive licensing fees for Windows on any device which has a screen size of less than 9 inches. The should bring the cost of these devices down so much, that Microsoft believes that there will be sub-$100 tablets available on the market.
These moves are a direct challenge to Google - especially its low end Chromebook platform. This operating system had slowly and successfully been eating away at Microsoft’s market share in low end computers for some time. While previously it could compete with Windows based on price, now with the devices being near-evenly prices, it will have to compete on OS-features. In this competition, Google is very much on the back foot, given the severely limited functionality of Chrome OS over Windows.
In addition, their Android operating system, which is currently dominant on tablets, could face a threat as well given the new licensing rules for Microsoft. In the past Android was the obvious OS of choice for OEMs, as it had no licensing cost. However now, this choice will not be so simple. If Microsoft can prove that customers want Windows tablets, Android could begin to fall out of favour for manufacturers.
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