HP Chromebooks Reflect Erosion in Windows Dominance

HP ChromeBook 14Hewlett-Packard isn’t being shy about its new Chromebooks built specifically for the SMB marketplace. The sub-$300 machines are seen as having strong appeal to an increasingly connected user base. Moreover, the appeal is to users who are no longer tied to the Windows-only mentality.

The new Chromebook 11 and Chromebook 14 are presented as fully functional notebooks that have all the features and attributes business users expect from a portable machine – long battery life, full-sized keyboard, built-in trackpad. And, because it runs Google Chrome operating system, it’s designed around Google Apps and Web-based applications.

HP collaborated with Google in the design of these new machines. They wanted to make the new Chromebooks particularly appealing to SMBs that are looking for full-functioning PCs at a low price without sacrificing manageability. Businesses have the option of including Google Management Console for centralized administration.

Solution providers will have access to these Chromebooks, as well. Thus far, Chromebooks produced by HP and other vendors have been sold sporadically through the channel; more opportunistically than strategically. The new HP Chromebooks, though, were launched with a channel-friendly focus, as HP and Google believe solution providers will see demand for these devices.

Interestingly, HP isn’t making a full philosophical commitment to Chromebooks. In responding to Channelnomics inquires about the rationale behind these new machines, HP position these Chromebooks as complements to other devices, such as more expensive PCs running Microsoft Windows and Apple iPad tablets.

“Chromebooks are ideal for professionals who need to spend a lot of time conducting business on the Internet and using online apps, social networks or web-based email.  They are a great companion device to a laptop or tablet, and many employees – especially in SMBs – are bringing Chromebooks into their work environments,” HP wrote.

Obviously, HP believes it and solution providers have an opportunity to capture market share in education. School systems are adopting Chromebooks over higher-end Windows and Apple products because of cost. By releasing these Chromebooks into the channel, HP hopes to build on that momentum and expand its footprint in secondary and college classrooms.

All of this is adding up to bad news for Microsoft. While Windows 8 is selling well enough to be considered a success, the Windows franchise no longer has an iron grip on the operating system market. Until recently, the threat to Windows was mobile platforms such as Google Android and Apple iOS. However, the expanding availability of Chromebooks by manufacturers such as Google, HP, Lenovo, Samsung and Acer shows that Microsoft no longer is the only game in thick clients. Pushing Chromebooks through the channel has the potential of expediting the Windows market share erosion.

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