Microsoft is expected to unveil a low-cost “Cloudbook” laptop in early May. It’ll probably be aimed at the education market, and it could be one of the first devices to run a new, stripped-down version of Windows called Windows 10 Cloud. But while Microsoft will sell its own hardware, it’s probably hoping not to be the only company offering Cloudbooks.
And now the folks at Windows Central have obtained a document detailing the minimum specs for upcoming Windows 10 Cloud hardware. It’s likely that Microsoft’s Cloudbook will at least meet these minimum specs, but they could also pave the way for a whole new generation of cheap laptops with decent hardware.
Keep in mind, these are the minimum specs, which means we could see some Cloudbooks with better hardware. But he’s an overview:
- Quad-core Celeron or better processor
- 4GB of RAM
- 32GB of storage for 32-bit systems
- 64GB of storage for 64-bit systems
- 40Wh battery
- Fast eMMC or SSD storage
Touchscreen displays and support for pen input are listed as “optional,” which means they’re not exactly minimum recommended specs… but Microsoft does expect some device makers to offer those features.
Overall the goal is to offer a user experience that’s comparable to what you’d expect from a Chromebook, and the document posted by Windows Central is surprisingly frank: Microsoft expects to be competitive in terms of battery life and resume-from sleep. But the targets for cold boot speed and first sign-in are a bit slower than those for Chromebooks (although Windows boot and login speeds have come a long way from years past when it could take minutes for a Windows computer to boot).
At a time when Chromebooks are becoming increasingly common in the classroom due to low cost, ease-of-use, all-day batteries, and strong security, it makes sense for Microsoft to develop an alternative.
What remains to be seen is whether a Windows 10 Cloudbook will hold any appeal outside of the classroom. One of the big differences between Windows 10 Cloud, Home, and Pro editions is that the Cloud version is expected to only support installation of Windows Store apps, which means that it’s much more tightly locked down than the consumer and professional versions of Microsoft’s operating system.
While that might be a selling point for educators (and maybe some business customers), it makes Windows 10 Cloudbooks seem like less-capable siblings to existing low-cost Windows notebooks, which could lessen their appeal.
Of course, the ability to run some Windows apps could still make a Windows 10 Cloudbook more attractive to some folks than a Chromebook, which only runs web apps and Android apps (unless you install Linux or use Windows emulation software). But given the sad state of the Windows Store (and the addition of the Google Play Store to many recent Chromebooks), you could argue that Chromebooks may be more capable than Windows 10 Cloudbooks.
Or maybe Microsoft has some surprises for us that’ll change our way of thinking about the Cloudbook platform. I guess we’ll find out on May 2nd.
The minimum 4GB of RAM and the option for a 32bit system seems a bit contradictory.
That is just what I was thinking. As the current Windows Store market exists this is a no-go for me. I can buy an off-lease i3 or i5 laptop with a minimum 500GB HDD and 4 or 8 GB of RAM that has the full Windows 10 Pro OS and not the gimped version for $200-$250. I would buy one of those before buying these “cloudbooks” with gimped Windows and only 32 or 64GB of SSD/eMMC. Also, you can bet the ranch that Microsoft won’t allow Libre Office to be distributed through the Windows Store as it competes with their $10 per month Microsoft Office suite, that is another deal breaker right there.
Actually, if Libre Office abides by the terms and conditions of the Microsoft App Store (and there is nothing Libre Office necessarily falls foul of, though they might have to repackage the application a little) then you can bet your bottom dollar that Microsoft will be perfectly happy to allow Libre Office to be distributed through the Windows Store. (To prevent it would be inviting an easy lawsuit).
Libre Office is a capable alternative to MS Office, but it isn’t a serious competitor to their subscription service. The Office division is making money hand over fist and in the corporate world (where MS is at its strongest) there isn’t much that Libre Office can do to slow it down.
The beauty of a Chromebook is the user interface is the chrome browser which many users are familiar with and generally works well. If Microsoft goes with a chromeos approach they are going to center it around edge and people are going to be turned off by it and if they allow you to install your own browser you are going to be running another layer between chrome and the hardware so it will be slower than a chromebook.
Cloudbooks success is not based on appealing to the old windows pc user mindset, that is ironically Microsofts wider problem.
Those still left on Windows are full on get off my lawn old timers who still worship at the alter of random exe and InstallShield Wizards, a dying mentality that most kids familiar with phones will find alien. [Or contradictory types who use app stores like steam but condemn any other form on the PC].
MS needs to pull out all the stops, kissing as much ass as possible in getting whatever apps are still popular on Windows in the edu market on the Win Store (granted Office is a huge one so it has that).
Then if MS can build up a base of Cloudbooks, some of what remains the Win32 developer base will sulkily make their apps available on Win Store which does accept Win32 apps contrary to what you hear. Now MS has something it can fall back to in it’s future battle as Android evolves into a PC OS if they make money from Win Store they can drop price of Windows or just give it away for free like Android.
Price point needs to be under $200 for these things to sell (IMO). I know my pull the trigger price would be around $149 (refurbished w/1yr warranty).
I do not understand the point in this If it takes a cheap windows laptop specs to run….
If it requires an Intel processor 32GB of storage and 4GB of RAM, then it’s mostly going to appeal to the education market where the ability to install any app you want is a liability. Computers quickly get eat up with malware, and it overwhelms the teachers and techs trying to keep them running. That’s a big reason why Chromebooks and iPads have been so popular in education.
For the average consumer, this will have very limited appeal because you can have full Windows with those specs. It still might have some appeal to give to people who just want to get on the web.
Small kids, elderly parents/grandparents, or tech beginners would be the core audience because it would remove a lot of the liabilities from using regular Windows. iPads and Chromebooks are really good for that audience because it’s next to impossible to mess up their operating systems or get them junked up with malware.
I was under the impression that it was also going to run on ARM processors, which would open up the door to super-low cost hardware. That would give it another advantage over regular Windows.
For me, the real problem with this concept is the web browser. That is the most important part of a cloud centric (internet) platform. Edge has a long way to go before it can be competitive with Chrome or Firefox. It’s very unlikely that Chrome will ever be in the Microsoft webstore. It doesn’t make sense for Google who has a competing platform to offer a tool to make Microsoft’s more satisfactory. Firefox would be more likely to show up in the Microsoft app store (I’m still doubtful that it will), since Mozilla doesn’t have anything to lose from supporting the platform (plus they may welcome a platform where they don’t have to compete with Chrome). Of course it’s possible Microsoft may not want other browsers on the Windows Cloud platform; it that case users would be stuck with Edge. I don’t see the Windows Cloud project being successful if users have to use Edge (unless Edge gets improved dramatically).
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