Follow Us

We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message

Blogs

War on Error

John E Dunn

HP's Stream laptop shows how confused Microsoft is about cloud computing

Article comments

Plausible anti-Chromebook fightback or is Microsoft still throwing oranges at a gorilla?

Plausible anti-Chromebook fightback or Microsoft throwing oranges at a gorilla?

HP has called it the Stream and it’s the first model of what Microsoft hopes will grow into a low-cost notebook niche to take on the Chromebooks that have, annoyingly for Redmond, started to undermine Windows 8.1 in the symbolically important home and academic markets.

Considering the $199 price (think £179 in the UK) it could have been a lot worse, starting with AMD’s reportedly capable quad-core A4 Micro-6400T and the integrated Radeon R3 to handle graphics, 2GB of non-upgradable RAM and a 32GB or 64GB flash drive for storage. This is a perfectly servicable platform, with a processor consuming only 4.5 watts and a varying 1.0Ghz to 1.6Ghz clock speed.

The 14-inch 1366x768 BrightView screen is fine for a cheap system even if the lack of 802.11ac Wi-Fi and more than one USB 3.0 ports looks like skimping. The similarities with HP’s now rather over-priced Chromebook 14 are striking so presumably HP re-used the guts of that platform to keep down development costs.

The problem is that it is still running Windows 8.1, the 64-GB version of which (unless Microsoft has shrunk it pretty radically) still requires around 20GB of drive space and a minimum of 2GB of RAM. That puts this system on the edge of what is possible with Windows 8.1.

chromebook14-2.png

Extra storage can be added via SD Card, which is just as well because there won’t be much space left after Office or Office 365 (both 3GB) have been added to an already crowded 32GB drive. Microsoft’s sop to this objection is to copy Google by offering 100GB of cloud storage for two years as part of the deal.

This is the big reveal, the giveaway to what's going on here. Microsoft wants system makers to shoehorn Windows 8.1 into the appearance of a cloud computer without the OS being engineered to do that job. Superficially, this gives it cloud-like air but it's not earned. This is still Windows. It is not going to be as secure as a Chromebook (even with ARM’s Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) to provide verified boot), it will suffer from the same complexity and unreliability as every other Windows machine and the modest 3-cell battery doesn’t inspire confidence about is longevity. It won’t boot in the Chromebook’s 7-8 seconds because Windows 8.1 can't do that on the best SSDs.

Let's remind ourselves that Chromebooks can fit the simple OS on a 4GB USB stick capable of being reinstalled in a minute. The innovation here is that it is cheap, which has come at the expense of Microsoft doing without license revenue.  Microsoft makes no money unless people sign up to its online services.

The Stream is a punt by HP to see if anyone will buy it and an experiment by Microsoft that wants something, anything, to hold the fort before it loses consumers for good. But to do that, Microsoft needs to offer a real Windows cloud computer and not a bastardised replica of what Google already does but with none of its advantages.

This is Windows 8.1 hobbled for the masses in a form that borrows its compromised notion of computing from a cornflakes packet giveaway. It's Wndows 8.1 but not the Windows 8.1 its users want. This is Microsoft throwing an orange at an angry gorilla. This is Microsoft delaying the inevitable - ‘we’re run out of ideas so have this.’

Doubtless HP will shift the Stream to confused shoppers but this will never rescue Windows 8.1 and its reputation as a no-hope operating system people continue to use on sufferance. If this is the sum of Redmond's internal thinking, CEO Nadella has work to do.


Share:

More from Techworld

More relevant IT news

Comments

Send to a friend

Email this article to a friend or colleague:

PLEASE NOTE: Your name is used only to let the recipient know who sent the story, and in case of transmission error. Both your name and the recipient's name and address will not be used for any other purpose.

Techworld White Papers

Choose – and Choose Wisely – the Right MSP for Your SMB

End users need a technology partner that provides transparency, enables productivity, delivers...

Download Whitepaper

10 Effective Habits of Indispensable IT Departments

It’s no secret that responsibilities are growing while budgets continue to shrink. Download this...

Download Whitepaper

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Information Archiving

Enterprise information archiving is contributing to organisational needs for e-discovery and...

Download Whitepaper

Advancing the state of virtualised backups

Dell Software’s vRanger is a veteran of the virtualisation specific backup market. It was the...

Download Whitepaper

Techworld UK - Technology - Business

Innovation, productivity, agility and profit

Watch this on demand webinar which explores IT innovation, managed print services and business agility.

Techworld Mobile Site

Access Techworld's content on the move

Get the latest news, product reviews and downloads on your mobile device with Techworld's mobile site.

Find out more...

From Wow to How : Making mobile and cloud work for you

On demand Biztech Briefing - Learn how to effectively deliver mobile work styles and cloud services together.

Watch now...

Site Map

* *