In mid-July, Microsoft announced its uber-cheap line of Windows 8.1 notebooks, with the cheapest model from HP, called “the Stream,” costing just $199.
With such a cheap price point, Microsoft is taking aim at Google’s line of super-cheap Chromebooks, which also start at $199.
Chromebooks are flying off the shelves thanks in part to the education sector, which is swiping up Google’s cheap internet-powered notebooks for classroom use. But Microsoft believes its own cheap laptops could better compete in the enterprise, particularly in financial services and banking, thanks to its popular Windows software.
Microsoft and HP didn’t show off the Stream notebook when it was announced in July, but thanks to some sleuthing from German site Mobile Geeks and Liliputing, we can now see several purported listings of HP’s Stream 14, which will rival the company’s Chromebook 14 in terms of technical specifications, even though the Windows 8.1 model will be roughly $80 cheaper.
As PCWorld’s Ian Paul points out, the Stream 14 and Chromebook 14 share many of the same specs, including the same number of ports, same 2GB of RAM, and same 14-inch display with a 1,366×768 resolution. But the Stream 14 comes with a more powerful quad-core 1.6 GHz system-on-a-chip from AMD, compared to the 1.4GHz Intel Celeron processor that powers HP’s Chromebook 14.
The Stream will also boast more onboard storage: Compared to the Chromebook 14’s 16GB of storage, the Stream will offer 32GB and 64GB options.
Based on the leaks, the Stream will also boast a 720p front-facing webcam, Bluetooth 4.0, a USB 3.0 port, four speakers with Beats audio, and a 2,960mAH battery. The laptop will also run on Windows 8.1 and ship with two-years and 100GB of cloud storage from Microsoft’s OneDrive.
But of course, the Stream 14 notebook hopes to attract users with its price point. Compared to most entry-level PCs, which typically cost around $1,000, Google’s various Chromebooks average at about $300. Microsoft’s first batch of cheap Windows 8.1 notebooks will cost between $199 and $279.
Microsoft has an anti-Google website called “Scroogled,” where the company collects and creates material to put down Google’s various services. When it comes to the Chromebook, Microsoft’s main criticism is that the computer “is a brick” when it’s not connected to the internet, since most Chrome OS applications require an internet connection. Google looks to address some of those criticisms by adding more apps that work in offline mode.
So, as it turns out, Microsoft and Google have succeeded at creating near-identical laptops at near-identical prices. But the HP Stream 14 laptop might get the slight edge right now since it can do more when it’s offline.