1. bilzkh's Avatar
    When Microsoft first brought up the HP Stream (at WPC 2014) and the general idea of new low-end Windows laptops, I was interested in seeing how the OEMs would execute.

    Note: I am referring to these low-end Windows laptops as "Streambooks" - in reference to the obvious cloud and web-focused intentions behind these devices.

    With the HP Stream's specs leaked, I have a few observations:

    1. It looks like the hardware is focused on reducing weight and ensuring efficiency in terms of speed and battery life. Notice how the HP Stream isn't equipped with the HDDs of current low-end PCs, instead, it uses 32GB or 64GB in eMMC flash memory. Besides that it has 2GB of RAM and that low-energy AMD A4 Micro-6400T CPU.

    From what I'm reading, it seems the CPU is fine for 'general tasks' such as web browsing, Office, multimedia, etc. Though I am curious to see if the Radeon R3 is good enough for the Modern/Windows Store games, should be fine...I hope.

    In any case, these specs really indicate the lightweight nature of these 'Streambooks'. If the Bay Trail tablets are of any indication, these specs line the Stream and others (from Toshiba et. al) to be fairly snappy in terms of speed, boot times, etc. If Threshold continues with the Windows trend of increasing efficiency on hardware, things should line up nicely.

    This is very good news. Not only would these devices be cheap in price, but unlike netbooks, they shouldn't leave users afflicted with Atom'phobia. I'll be honest, I still can't get over it, even though I know Atom Bay Trail is a vastly different beast from the netbook-era CPUs (imagine how hilarious it would be if Microsoft/HP chose AMD over Intel because of that).

    2. These low-end devices may serve to ultimately cannibalize Windows PC sales up the ladder. That's not necessarily a bad thing if the eventual fate of higher powered Windows PCs is to serve as specialist productivity systems and if these Streambooks beat out Chromebooks in taking up most if not all of the casual computing userbase. But it's also vital that these devices get users entrenched into Microsoft's services eco-system, especially Bing, Skype, Office, Store Apps and Xbox.

    That said, it would be disappointing if the only affordable Windows PCs would be these very cheap and very low-end devices, it would be like the Lumia 520 all over again. Microsoft needs to push some compelling mid-range devices higher up on the price-ladder. I really hope we see $599 devices using Intel's Core M CPUs (as promised by Intel).

    3. This is very much a Threshold-centric device. Besides a couple of early devices, I don't think we'll see the mainstay of these low-end Windows laptops come to market until Threshold is released to market. The $199 HP Stream lacks a touchscreen display, it'd take Threshold's zero-dependency on touch (i.e. Start Menu, no Charms, windowed Store apps, etc) to make this device genuinely easy to use. That said, Microsoft made it clear that these low-end laptops will be complimented by cheap Windows tablets, an interesting shift in approach (i.e. get people to buy two devices instead of an all-in-one hybrid).

    4. It wouldn't surprise me if Microsoft decides to use these low-end devices as part of a push to take away some of Google's success in the education market. Inroads in classrooms will go a long way in securing education-focused developers and vendors such as Desire2Learn, Blackboard, etc. It will also go a long way is exposing children and youth to Bing and Office, thereby at least having a generation of users who are familiar and comfortable with Microsoft's software.

    Overall, the HP Stream is a tangible sign of Satya Nadella's "cloud first, mobile first" paradigm. The HP Stream itself is a device built on depending on the cloud and is by design, presumably, 'mobile' in terms of weight, battery life, etc. Of course HP et. al are probably free to build variants with LTE and even all-in-one hybrids (though at higher price points).

    Looking at the increasingly efficient nature of the Windows OS, Microsoft's various services as well as the Windows Store's compelling catalogue of apps and games, it's possible that Chrome could be put into a precarious situation. But Chrome definitely has some good grounding thanks to the nearing advent of running Android apps as well as the pervasiveness of Google's brand with many people, young and old.

    Execution will be key for Microsoft, can they pull it off?
    08-18-2014 07:32 PM
  2. Andre Cauchy's Avatar
    Streambooks are fantastics Thin terminal. We used them with a Windows8 Pro version. Compared to the the dump terminals connected to a windows 2012 farm with RDS, they work great. With terminals, even with remote FX8 and RDP 8, the treatment of the multimedia programs like Skype, youtube etc. are not totally a pleasure party. In a K12 scholl environment, when a lot of students go on Youtube, the servers and the network suffer.

    But with Streambooks, they use directly, natively the access to those program, without charging the server to encode and decode Remote FX8. So every things that made suffer our farm is directly use by the students without using the farm. In complement, with RemoteApp, they may use the farm for all the others institutionnal programs. The farm does that very well. Even the personnal may use the administrative programs and have acces the the data space stored on the SAN without stroring data ont the portable with all the secure considerations we should have when they do. It cost the same price or less than the thin clients, but are portable and can be used at home or on travel.

    Compare to the chromebooks, they are recorded in active directory and all the rights and access are provided automatically to the users. It is a lot easier to manage the printers. We have almost 600 printers on our network. With active directory, the students have acces only to the printers they are registered for their use. They may installed them with a click or two. Just for that, using chromebooks our Apple Ipad or computers are a lot more difficult.
    05-11-2015 10:39 AM

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