Microsoft Windows 8 is a dramatic change for many users with its new Start UI and a push away from the traditional desktop. While some of us love it, not everyone feels that way.

Although it may take time for Microsoft to really win over consumers towards its vision of the future, they also have to worry about outside competition using Microsoft’s “slow start” as a way to boost their own ends.

In the desktop world, I’m talking about Chrome OS. While not everyone likes the idea of a cloud-reliant computing experience, the low-cost pricing of the Chromebook makes it a useful Windows alternative for folks that spend most of their laptop time connected to the net.

This isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned Chrome OS on this site, with good reason. Should Microsoft be worried be continued growth to the cloud computing OS? I would say no in the long-term, but in the short-term they should at least pay attention to what’s going on in the Chrome OS world and work towards winning back the low end market.

Acer and Chrome OS

Acer’s CEO JT Wong hasn’t exactly shown major love for Microsoft recently, specifically because of the Surface. Now the CEO has come out to say they have seen a 28% drop in PC shipments for the 4th quarter of 2012 compared to the year before. Wong adds, “Windows 8 itself is still not successful… The whole market didn’t come back to growth after the Windows 8 launch, that’s a simple way to judge if it is successful or not.”

Next, Wong stated that its Chromebook efforts have seen strong success though, with Chrome OS now taking somewhere between 5-10% of its Acer notebook shipments in the States. Wong further says, “You saw that all the marketing and promotions were not as broad as Windows 8, so to reach this success is encouraging.” In other words, Wong feels that Chrome OS is seeing solid growth and is doing well even with limited advertising.

HP and Chrome OS

It’s also worth noting that today is the day that the HP Pavilion Chromebook has been leaked to the net through a specification sheet directly on HP’s website. The upcoming low-end device has a 1.1GHz Celeron processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB SSD, 4 hour battery life and a 14-inch display.

HP is the fourth vendor to join up with Google Chrome OS, following closely behind Lenovo. Lenovo and HP are both major partners for Microsoft, so this is something that Microsoft needs to address.

Winning Back the Lower End Market

The bottom-line is that Chrome OS seems to be appealing towards the “lower-end” market that just wants and needs cheap, easy hardware that gets the job done without tons of bells and whistles. This is a crowd that Microsoft seems to have abandoned recently, phasing out netbooks to focus on ultrabooks and high-costing tablets.

Microsoft needs some budget notebooks and low-cost tablets if they want to stop Google from further expanding into the low-end market. Again, that’s just my opinion. Ultimately, I don’t think that Microsoft has much to fear from Google’s Chrome OS (and least not in its current form), but marketshare lost is still marketshare lost.

What do you think, does Chrome OS at all pose a threat to Microsoft and Windows 8?

Source 1 | Source 2

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  • Elizabeth Pemberton

    Can’t really stand Chromebooks, the local storage and processing is something I need. If my Internet connection goes out, it’s curtains, not so?

    • Andrew_Grush

      Chromebook is based completely on web technologies– that said there are offline web apps that will work without your connection. This includes Google Docs, games like Angry Birds, Calculator apps, Solitaire app and others. While Google Chrome OS relies almost completely on the web, it isn’t totally crippled during those times when you aren’t near a web connect. Additionally they still have local HDD and SDD technology for storing some stuff– the big push though is to rely on the cloud whenever possible.

      That said, Chromebooks are best for folks that will be near the net 90% of the time they use their PC. 🙂

      At the moment they are clearly a niche item, but I think if Microsoft Windows will see a major push further towards the cloud in the next few versions.

  • Jason Deveau

    Chrome isn’t an OS. Its just a web browser. I have other things to do on a laptop as do most others.
    I don’t think most people realize you cant install anything on these.

    • Jared Mucha

      I have a chromebook. You do NOT need to install anything. I was using a Mac before, with tons of programs installed. I think my Chromebook is comparable to the Mac. I do not miss any of the installed programs, I can find them in the chrome webstore. It is much more sophisticated than you lead on.

      • Vance Morgan

        The issue is that you can purchase a lower priced ultrabook or surface pro, which has the same or better build quality, the same or higher battery life, more built-in features, and the ability to just run a web browser if that’s all you want. So where does the extra cost come from? It’s certainly not from it being a higher quality device. It’s certainly not from it having a more complete operating system.

        It would be like selling a small car for a higher price than a large pickup truck, but gets the same fuel economy, is slower, has fewer safety features, has less storage/cargo space, caries fewer passengers, etc.

        Cheap chromebooks are fine, there is a market for that. The issue is the high price for the Pixel. It’s essentially a $200 chromebook that gives you touch for the low low one time exclusive prive of $1,000. It’s a ripoff.

  • mkty

    have you tried Chrome OS? Not for a day, but for a few months, solely? Then it will be very clear that Chrome OS is a serious threat for Windows 8, especially in the long term. I would even say, a couple of years and chromebooks will outsell windows machines. It’s so much better, already on a lot of things.