Microsoft has certainly made a name for themselves with their high end PCs such as the Surface Pro and Surface Book. Not only are these PCs powerful, they are also incredibly portable. Then Microsoft announced the Surface Studio all-in-one PC aimed at creators and designers alike.While all this is well and good, it seems that Microsoft has not catered towards the other end of the market spectrum. But that’s all about to change. According to rumors, Microsoft will be unveiling a new kind of PC called the CloudBook at an event scheduled to be held on the 2nd of May 2017.
The device would supposedly be an inexpensive laptop that is designed to run apps from the Cloud and the Microsoft App Store. It would run a variant of Windows 10 called Windows Cloud. The key difference between regular Windows 10 and Windows Cloud is that devices running it will only be able to run apps downloaded from the Windows Store.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, that’s the exact same theory behind the now defunct Surface RT and Surface 2. These devices ran Windows RT, which was developed for ARM rather than Intel/AMD x86 machines. For now, rumors are that the CloudBook would indeed have an Intel chip, so theoretically can run Win32 apps but Windows Cloud would have a setting where it would restrict apps to Windows Store only. Since the CloudBook seems to be Microsoft’s answer to the Chromebook, it would make sense to do this.
In addition, a leaked build of Windows Cloud was available back in February 2017 and users who tried it stated that it Is basically Windows 10 with a few modifications to encourage the User to use cloud-based apps. This also raises concerns over the overall price of the device. If it requires a full or almost full license, that would mean they are priced more than the Chromebooks which for now start, or close to full Windows license, they might end up being a notch more expensive than Chromebooks, which start at about $200.
The Netbook was once Microsoft’s route to provide cheap machines but that failed miserably. Now with the rising interest in the Cloud, Chromebooks have made a name for themselves and OEMs have noticed it as well. So a budget friendly Windows machine that excels at cloud-based tasks such as web browsing, email and office apps is not exactly a pipe dream anymore.
The challenge here would be to manage the expectations of uses. Regardless of the spec, people expect a certain amount of flexibility just because it’s a machine running Microsoft Windows. Even if you tell users that Windows Cloud is a stripped down version of Windows 10, they would still expect almost the exact same functionality of Windows 10 to be available in Windows Cloud. As always, it’s time to play the waiting game and see exactly what the CloudBook has in store for us (pun intended).