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Microsoft's Rumored CloudBook Could Be Your Next Cheap Computer ( 206

An anonymous reader shares a report: In a few weeks, at its education-oriented software and hardware event in New York, Microsoft could unveil a sub-premium laptop -- something more robust than a Surface but not as fancy as a Surface Book. And rather than run good old Windows 10, the new product could run something called Windows 10 Cloud, which reportedly will only be able to run apps that you can find in the Windows Store, unless you change a certain preference in Settings. The idea is that this will keep your device more secure. However, that does mean you won't be able to use certain apps that aren't in the Store -- like Steam -- on a Windows 10 Cloud device, such as the rumored CloudBook. Microsoft is going after Google's Chromebooks that are very popular in the education space -- so much so that they are playing an instrumental role in keeping the entire PC shipments up.
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Microsoft's Rumored CloudBook Could Be Your Next Cheap Computer

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  • Brick by design (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Monday April 17, 2017 @10:05AM (#54248393)
    >> reportedly will only be able to run apps that you can find in the Windows Store

    So...a brick by design? The only reason to still run Windows is to run stuff that ISN'T in an app store.
    • by Junta ( 36770 )

      Lot of uncertainty in reporting here. It would be a totally bizarre move to have an edition that by default locks to windows store but allows user to select otherwise unless it's a broad change across the board (since the editions would be equally capable, but different defaults).

      Of course it could be like 'Windows 8 with bing', where the edition was free just for having a different default browser setting guaranteed (and only through select re-sellers). Trying to lock out direct sales and third party sto

      • by Rob Y. ( 110975 )

        These things are ARM based, so 'select otherwise' isn't likely to be too useful if you're trying to turn them into full-blown Windows laptops that can run X86 stuff. Then again, there are rumors that these will run X86 stuff via an ARM emulator - so maybe they're trying to get WIN32 apps bundled with emulation into the Windows store to make up for the decided lack of 'native' Metro stuff. I wonder whether that would be more or less useful than the Android phone apps you can run on a Chromebook. There are

        • During the Windows RT era, developers of Windows desktop applications wanted to recompile their applications for ARM. Microsoft wouldn't let them, instead requiring them to port the applications to Windows Runtime and distribute them exclusively through Windows Store. Only Microsoft's own applications (File Explorer, Internet Explorer, and Office) could run on the ARM desktop.

          • by DaHat ( 247651 )

            Did you ever wonder *why* this was?

            Like it or not, Windows RT was pretty damn secure (I know a couple folks who only use those devices (and nothing else) for online banking), the fact that only MS signed code code run eliminated the risk of entire classes of malware.

            At the time, the only way to ensure 3rd party was limited with regards to what it could do was to run within the rather limited sandbox of WinRT, now though, out of a bit of desperation I expect of people not wanting to write full fledged native

            • Yes, sadly this is why I do not think Apple's walled garden of iOS is all that bad. IT is good to have SOMEONE responsible keep the goddamn hackers at bay. People whine too much about the NSA and the CIA. Sure, they are running a surveillance state but they are really not interested in you, unless you look like some violent towelhead.

              The criminals? The spammers? The phishers? They will f*ck you over twice on a Sunday. They are the real problem. And no-one seems too worry too much about that.

              • by Junta ( 36770 )

                The big problem is that with Android, iOS, and Microsoft, there's no framework for the native app distribution to add trusted parties to the list explicitly. So while it may look good to say 'security', it also just happens to dovetail nicely with 'cut of the revenue goes to the platform owner'.

                Contrast with yum or apt, which is extensible to allow third party sources.

                • by DaHat ( 247651 )

                  Isn't that called... side-loading and/or Cydia?

                  Just last month I finally gave up on Windows Phone/Mobile, having been on it since it was first available on my carrier at the time and am now carrying an Android device running 7.2.

                  I've been pleasantly surprised by the amount of access I now have to so many little nooks and crannys of the API set on my phone, as well as how well built apps can work together to keep me & my data safe.

                  One of my biggest laments on Windows Phone (aside from it being abandoned

                  • by Junta ( 36770 )

                    The issue is that it is a boolean situation.

                    Either a) you have a fully vetted way for a package repository to give you a validated set of updates from a single place

                    Or b) you just install .apk application from whoever and whenever with little security and no update mechanism (apart from whatever home-grown update mechanism the specific app developer has dreamed up, which is usually none).

                    If I add a third party apt or yum repository, then I can say 'all packages must be signed by a trusted packager (trusted

        • by Junta ( 36770 )

          But is it going to be ARM based? There's unsubstantiated rumors all sorts of ways.

    • Re:Brick by design (Score:5, Interesting)

      by supremebob ( 574732 ) <> on Monday April 17, 2017 @10:50AM (#54248601) Journal

      I think that Microsoft is longingly looking at Apple's iOS App Store, knowing that they're getting something like a 20% cut of all revenue that's generated from application sales. They probably also want to use this to force independent application developers to put their applications in the Windows Store as well or risk not having access to this new hardware.

      They would probably be willing to sell their branded tablet with a razor thin profit margin if they knew that they would be making that money back on the backend every time they sold an app or processed an in app purchase. The walled garden approach (while annoying) also cuts down on casual piracy and malware installations as well.

      Of course, an obnoxious feature like this would probably end up getting hacked within days of release if for no other reason than developer spite towards Microsoft. They would be better off leaving a "allow third-party applications" checkbox buried in the security settings screen like Android has. That should be enough to keep most end users from accidentally downloading malware, while giving power users the ability to install their "legacy" applications.

    • So...a brick by design? The only reason to still run Windows is to run stuff that ISN'T in an app store.

      The only reason to not run Windows for basic things are licensing costs, and to an extent that no one cares about: security. This is a direct dig at Chromebooks. Given Chromebook's general success, people don't care about brickyness. Given the iPad's general success as educational tools, institutions don't care about brickyness.

      As long as the costs remain low Microsoft would be on a win here ... if it could attract developers to the ghosttown err I mean Windows Store.

    • you mean like a chromebook? Oh sure you can put it in developer mode but that totally rots since now you have to manage it's updates yourself, defeating the entire rationale for having a cloud based notebook.

    • It's competing against Chromebooks, if the write up is anything to go by. While Google has been working on, and released to a small number of ChromeOS users, the ability to run Android apps under ChromeOS, the system is still extremely limited. Given the Android APIs didn't support resizable windows until a year or two ago, something with probably zero adoption so far, it's a limited feature.

      So, from that point of view, a locked down Windows laptop that can run webapps, like ChromeOS, and Windows apps is

  • I'm sure all the Windows phone users will buy one.
    Both of them.

    • There should be three. My friend works at Sprint Store. They have a Windows phone in the back room. No one ever asks for a Windows phone. It's not like my friend and his coworkers have financial incentives to push out Windows phone like they do for Samsung, HTC and LG.
  • See how there are alot of education apps that will not work under the windows store rules I don't see it working to good. also what about the European Union rules about MS.

    MS trying to lock users to there IE edge and lock out steam will not fly very far there.

  • ... but it won't be.
  • After all, it is a product by Microsoft - which, by the way, can considered itself middle-fingered, again.
  • As long as I have a legal right to use something else, that's what I'm going to do

  • Laptop usually means: small screen, crappy keyboard, awful trackpad, poor durability, and little expandability, but more expensive than an equivalent desktop machine.

    • by tepples ( 727027 )

      Microsoft is going after Google's Chromebooks that are very popular in the education space

      Laptop usually means: small screen, crappy keyboard, awful trackpad, poor durability, and little expandability, but more expensive than an equivalent desktop machine.

      But for this expense, you gain two things:

      1. Ability to get work done while riding transit or in a waiting room, as opposed to just reading a book. This is important for K-12 schoolchildren, who ride a school bus because they are too young to drive.
      2. Not having to buy a separate computer for your work desk and your living room, as you can instead carry it back and forth.

      • 1. Why would kids do that? Last minute "oh shit I forgot to do the homework"?
        2. That's related to the "poor durability" bit I had mentioned.

        • by tepples ( 727027 )

          Ability to get work done while riding transit

          Why would kids do that? Last minute "oh shit I forgot to do the homework"?

          Eagerness to complete the assignment during the ride home from school in order to have more play time after school. Or ability to complete the assignment at all if the assignment is assigned today at the end of class and due tomorrow at the start of class and tonight is the family's shopping night.

          Not having to buy a separate computer for your work desk and your living room, as you can instead carry it back and forth.

          That's related to the "poor durability" bit I had mentioned.

          In what way?

          • Come on, that's logical: carrying a machine around all the time causes mechanical stress, affecting its weak points, such as hinges and connectors.

            And I really can't imagine many kids acting like that.

  • by Streetlight ( 1102081 ) on Monday April 17, 2017 @11:00AM (#54248657) Journal
    And you might need to be always connected to OneDrive or a new platform, Microsoft Drive, at some monthly fee. The apps could also be had for a monthly subscription fee, a la Office 365. One post suggested these devices should have cellular data capability which at $10 per GigaByte, along with the cloud drive fee and the app fee, might end up costing its owner far more than the initial cost of the device in a few months. This could be like the famous razor blade business plan.
    • Windows RT failed due to lack of infrastructure. Windows RT had no apps, no office applications, and was released in a world before do-everything-online became the new programming norm.

      Yes it sounds like Windows RT because it effectively is Windows RT, except now it has a name that makes sense out of the box, and exists in a time where people in general are accustomed to online only (Chromebook) or store locked (every tablet OS).

      • Windows RT was nonsensical : it was like they were ashamed of the tablet software it ran, so they grafted a IE + Office only desktop to make it more useful. So, it sucked both as a tablet and a desktop, and was undesirable if bought without the keyboard. They didn't make a cheaper, tablet-only tablet i.e. an oversized Windows Phone, so Android was free to capture the entirety of the non iOS market. People did buy iOS and Android tablet-only tablets, until moving to 5" and 6" phones mostly. Not sure if anyth

  • by mykepredko ( 40154 ) on Monday April 17, 2017 @11:09AM (#54248713) Homepage

    Looking at the initial comments, various posters are hoping that the Cloudbook isn't as restricted as a Chromebook but I think Microsoft has a bigger fundamental issue than that.

    And that is to accept to be successful in this space, you aren't going to sell a PC and the software tools that go into it.

    In evaluating systems to provide to students, our company evaluated Chromebooks (2GByte DDR, 16GByte EMMc/Flash Drive) and low-cost Windows 10 PCs (4GByte DDR, 32GByte EMMc/Flash Drive) - both were manufactured by Acer and had the same Processor/display/Network IO. I should point out that probably nobody on this site would be customers for this type of platform; they're best suited for students and clerks.

    Even though the Chromebooks had half the memory of the PC, they booted in a few seconds and allowed surfing the web, running Chrome Extensions/Apps (including those that provide basic, not complete, Office functionality) as well as accessing network resources (ie printers). Something we didn't realize at the time was that updates are annoying but fairly painless along with this, we didn't realize that updates were more or less automatic and just took a minute or two to work through. There are no ads/demands for virus protection under ChromeOS.

    The WIndows 10 PCs took considerably longer to boot, required loading Chrome because our customers (that are schools) require it for the students (who all have gmail or Google Classroom accounts) and, if we wanted to use "true" Office, that needed a license and is painfully slow and unusable if you have two apps active at the same time. If did provide a familiar way of adding devices and networks (not that ChromeOS is that difficult to use, but I wanted to put something positive about the Win10 machines). What would have been a killer for us is updates; for the two evaluation machines we still have, they require 16GByte or better thumb drives to perform updates about twice a year and these updates take between one and two hours with lots of warnings about not losing power, network connections or forcing a reboot - I would expect if there was a larger hard drive, they would be considerably less painful. Then there is the inclusion of the 30 day trial of Norton which you are always being bugged to buy.

    So, if Microsoft wants to compete against Google and their Chromebooks, I would recommended:
    - Coming up with a small, fast booting version of Win10 that can be updated in less than a minute
    - Develop a set of web accessible Office compatible apps
    - Consciously avoid the desire/need for paid apps.

    I can see Microsoft coming up with an OS that meets the first requirement - the second two so go against the grain that I don't think they'll be able to take that plunge and will create yet another also-ran that will be remembered with the same fondness as the Ford Edsel.

    Microsoft has a number of products that work to customer satisfaction (Windows 10 being a good example - again, it's really not for people on this list, but I know a lot of non-technical users that really like it) that makes them a ton of money. Rather than putting good money down a rat hole of trying to compete in a space that they will have to give value away to make sales, they can either look at improving the products they have and make them more compatible with what's out there (cough - Edge - cough).

    • the second two so go against the grain that I don't think they'll be able to take that plunge

      The last one, maybe. The second on your list, however, a web accessible Office compatible app, has been available for a long time now []. It does have a few limitations (rendering of tables in Word seems screwed up for some reason) but it works, and even works on non-Microsoft platforms.

      Yes, they want you to buy Word, but their model is starting to veer towards a freemium (basics for free, extras require a subscrip

      • Where can I see a link for an online copy of Office that won't nag me to pay? When I look at the Office website, I keep getting pointed to Office 365 which is free only for the first month.

        I would be interested in seeing what they have that is free and would not hassle my customers asking them to get a subscription.

    • Am I missing something? All of the Office 365 applications work inside a browser.
  • Too little too late (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zerofoo ( 262795 ) on Monday April 17, 2017 @11:09AM (#54248715)

    Our school moved away from Mac OS and Windows to Chromebooks and Google Apps for staff and students 3 years ago. Two years later Microsoft had a half-assed approach to cloud computing. Their windows-lite laptops required a windows Live account to login to the laptop and then a completely separate Office 365 login to use Office.

    There was no way to bring my domain to them, there was no way to deploy policies to secure the devices, and the windows-lite endpoints still needed Anti Virus and imaging tools to create some sort of managed, standardized and secure experience for end users. Finally, Microsoft only gave schools the cloud version of Office 365 - no local copies allowed.

    In short - all the drawbacks of running windows with none of the benefits. It was an absolute shit show.

    Three years into Chrome OS and Google Apps, the students and staff are pretty pleased with the ease of use of the entire system. I like that it is ridiculously easy to manage and CHEAP.

    Finally, families like the Chrome OS/Apps system since many decide to buy a cheap Chromebook for home and have the exact same capabilities for the students at home.

    Switching back to Microsoft would have very few if any benefits for us, and I suspect lots of schools are in the same situation.

  • There is absolutely no basis for TFA saying that it will work with Windows Store only unless you change the settings. Windows 10 Creators Edition introduced the setting, but that's not what is coming to these devices. Why introduce a separate version of Windows 10 called "Cloud" if you have the intention to give people a choice to not use the cloud?

    The settings won't exist in the Cloud edition I will bet a Mars bar on it.

  • I keep expecting Microsoft to foist upon us something like an entirely cloud-based computer, that requires a broadband connection just to boot up because there's no OS or even any real local storage device on the thing, everything is on their servers. Then they'd have 100% control and you'd literally have zero control, which seems to be the direction they're going. It's like they want to go back to the Mainframe days, where your local device was just a dumb terminal with zero computing power of it's own, and the Mainframe did everything.

    I of course would never go for any of that, and I'd hope that most people would likewise draw the line well before that point, too.
    • And bang goes your Cellular Data limit. Two reboots and you are into paying $$$ per Megabyte.
      The only upside is that it solves the thorny problem of updating your device. Other than that, this is an attempt at total lock-in by Microsoft.
      Doomed to fail IMHO

  • What a piece of junk! And this thing does NOT go 0.5 past lightspeed....

    If anyone has taken a look into the Windows Store, it's crap... absolute garbage... Practically nothing of note is there, and the few apps that may be useful are poorly written with limited features. Who is Microsoft trying to fool here?

    Of course, I doubt you'd be able to use another browser other than Edge, so you are really limited with this device (that was a big problem with their phones, too). This reminds me of Sun Corporation's o

  • by XSportSeeker ( 4641865 ) on Monday April 17, 2017 @01:15PM (#54249921)

    Because RT worked so so well AMIRITE? :P

    Sometimes, I dunno what Microsoft is thinking. RT is still plenty fresh on people's minds, Windows Store is a complete failure both to attract an userbase and to attract developers (despite being shoved down people's throats since Windows 8.0), most of the complaints about Windows 10 right now have exactly to do with privacy, telemetry and the OS basically working as spyware, I think lots of people still remember how Microsoft tried to forcibly scale back and cut down free OneDrive plans, the ad everywhere scandal is still plenty recent, and yet they come up with a new product line that possibly combines ALL of those in one big shitcake.

    It's like someone there just though: Hey guyze, let's pick up all the most notorious and recent complaints about Windows, pack it up in a single product, and see if it sells! Genius product development at work here!

    And they are trying to push this in against a device that had none of those issues in the past. I know plenty of people don't like Chromebooks a whole lot, but if anything, it had humble prototype like starts and has been on a steady development frame that works plenty well for schools and whatnot.

  • First, all my hardware must run Linux and be able to dual-boot. And second, hardware from Microsoft? Over-priced and not so good? No way.

  • The story is newsworthy, but msmash should have given TFS a different title than TFA. I think VERY few people on Slashdot will rush out to buy one of these things, and probably the majority here are at least a little bit insulted at being implicitly lumped in with Windows Magazine subscribers and other such MS fanbois.

    As for the CloudBook mentioned in the article, I'm guessing it will have all the spying and advertising of Windows 10, PLUS the additional vulnerability and privacy loss associated with all yo

  • "...more secure" [by putting everything in the cloud].


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