Ahead of a planned event where it is expected to show off Windows 9, Microsoft announced low-cost Windows tablets and notebooks in conjunction with HP. The $99 HP Stream 7-inch tablet will join an 8-inch model for $149 while the HP Stream laptops will start at $199 when they arrive in November.
[company]HP[/company] hasn’t revealed the full specifications but Steve Paine at UMPC Portal says both will have 1280 x 800 resolution touchscreens, 1 GB of memory and 16 GB of internal storage; all will run on [company]Intel[/company] chips. The Stream laptops will likely feature 1366 x 768 screens in a pair of sizes: It will come in an 11.6-inch model and a 13.3-inch edition for $229.
All of these devices will run Windows 8.1 with Bing, the no-cost version that [company]Microsoft[/company] is now licensing to its hardware partners. So the company isn’t earning any money directly from the sale. It does have some up-sell opportunities as both the tablets and the laptops come with a one-year subscription to Microsoft Office 365 Personal; after the year is up, Microsoft can pick up some additional subscription fees. The tablets and notebooks also include 1 terabyte of OneDrive storage for a year and the HP Stream 8 tablet includes 200 MB of 4G data each month.
Microsoft made it clear earlier this year that it can’t keep ceding market share to low-cost tablets and Google Chromebooks. Although I’ll have to try these new devices out to see if they provide a solid experience, there’s no question in my mind that they offer a compelling value: It’s like getting the hardware for free if you factor in the costs of the free storage and Office 365 subscription.