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Digitimes Research: Microsoft to partner with Acer, Lenovo and Inventec for US$169-249 Windows 10 notebooks
Joanne Chien, DIGITIMES Research, Taipei

In addition to its cooperation with Elitegroup Computer Systems (ECS) to launch an 11.6-inch inexpensive notebook priced at US$179 for the education market, Microsoft is planning to partner with Acer and Lenovo to release a series of low-cost Windows 10 notebooks between mid-August and the end of the fourth quarter.

The Windows 10 notebooks are an 11.6-inch notebook (US$169) and a 14-inch clamshell-type notebook (US$199) from Acer and a 14-inch convertible Yoga notebook (US$249) from Lenovo. These devices will be manufactured by Inventec, and target mainly against Chromebooks.

For 2015, although Microsoft does not wish to continue the price-cutting strategy from the previous year to defend Chromebook's penetration, the software giant is still being forced to release even cheaper notebook solutions in order to match Chromebooks which continue to see their prices dropping.

The three notebooks are expected to bring Windows 10-based notebook price points to a new low. Instead of Intel's Bay Trail-T CR processors, which are broadly used by entry-level devices, these machines are using higher-end Broadwell processors, showing Microsoft's aggressive support for the projects.

However, Digitimes Research believes Microsoft's moves only show the software giant is capable of supporting inexpensive notebooks, but it will not have much effort in stopping the growth of Chromebooks.

Another key point of the strategic project is that Inventec, which is only major notebook orders from HP, will re-establish its ODM partnership with Acer after three years.

Digitimes Research estimates that the two notebook models from Acer will boost Inventec's notebook shipments by over 500,000 units in the second half, but the inexpensive Windows 10-based Yoga notebook will have limited shipments in 2015 as its mass shipments may not begin until mid-fourth quarter. Despite a limited contribution, the partnership will still help link Inventec with Lenovo in the notebook industry.

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