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Asus brings back the $199 Windows netbook to battle Chromebooks

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Microsoft’s attack on cheap Android tablets might have started this week, but the software maker is also directly targeting Chromebooks. Asus is one of the first PC makers to announce a $199 laptop running Windows 8.1 with Bing. It’s Microsoft’s answer to Google’s Chrome OS, and the low licensing costs mean many PC makers will be able to create laptops for $199 or even less.

It's like the old days of the Eee PC

Asus’ EeeBook X205 uses the Eee branding that the company first used on its netbooks nearly seven years ago, and this EeeBook is very much a netbook in many ways. It includes an 11.6-inch display (1366 x 768), 2GB of RAM, and an Intel Atom Bay Trail processor. Those specifications won’t give you great performance, but they're a lot better (and larger in terms of display) than the netbooks of 2007 and should be reasonable enough for basic computing needs.

Where Asus’ approach gets interesting is the fact that Microsoft is giving away 100GB of OneDrive storage for two years with the EeeBook X205. That’s an offer that’s similar to the 100GB of Google Drive storage that comes with every Chromebook purchase. It’s clear Microsoft is working to increasingly make Chromebooks less attractive by lowering Windows licensing costs and throwing in free cloud storage. All of this just helps PC makers lower prices to match Chromebooks. HP is planning to offer a 14-inch Stream 14 laptop for just $199, and many other PC makers will likely follow suit in the coming months.