An unlikely home for Windows 8: Return of the budget PC
Microsoft’s Windows 8 was far from a critical success, but does it stand to be a commercial hit in low end devices?
During the holiday shopping weekend, low-end budget PCs running Windows 8 were all the rage at shopping chain Walmart. HP, Gateway, and Toshiba have all teetered recently due to the decline of the desktop and rise of mobile computing. All three companies started to return to form this weekend though, as their low cost Windows 8 running notebooks were a hit.
The notebooks in question ran from $248 – $328, which pitted them in direct competition with netbooks/Ultrabooks and were only a little more expensive than your average tablet computer. Of course, when using a tablet with a keyboard a dock is usually your best choice, so the notebook offerings worked out cheaper than a $200 tablet + $100-$150 dock. The notebooks had average 2GB memory, 300GB HDD, and 1.3GHz dual-core AMD processors. Some models like the Toshiba Satellite C855D were marked from their usual price for more than $300.
While the tablet boom certainly is booming, it still seems some sensible shoppers just want a regular device to do chores on and write the occasional word. Touch screen technology is a great marketing device, but in reality fails to be practical for anything more than a plaything. As computing takes up more of our lives, a media-consuming device like a tablet just doesn’t cut it in some areas.
Either way its good news for Microsoft, whose latest operating system Windows 8 runs on both notebooks and tablets, and is a cunning strategy by the Redmond developer to ensure they get a cut of whatever trend takes hold over the next few years.
It’s not all pie in the sky for Microsoft, as the Microsoft Surface saw far less popularity than the Apple iPad. Fortune columnist Philip Elmer-Dewitt commented that Microsoft’s Store saw 47% less foot traffic than Apple at one particular mall. Most of the items purchased at the Microsoft Store were also Xbox360 games, not Surface tablets.
While official numbers have yet to be released, eye-witness accounts don’t exactly convey a sense of popularity for Microsoft’s tablet that previous iPad launches have had. Perhaps the notebook isn’t dead after all.