Is Windows 10X a Chromebook killer?

Demand for laptops soared to record levels in 2020, driven by the work-at-home and school-at-home requirements brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Notebook sales rocketed past 200 million in a year, a record-breaking 22.5% year-over-year increase, according to market intelligence firm TrendForce.

Microsoft should be celebrating. But look closely and you’ll find a disturbing trend for the company: Chromebook sales went sky-high last year, with nearly 30 million purchased. That represents 74% year-over-year growth and comprises 15% of notebook market share — eating into Microsoft’s share of the important segment. TrendForce notes: “Due to the rapid growth of Chromebooks in 2020, Windows’ [notebook] market share dropped below 80% for the first time ever.”

The firm goes on to predict that Chromebook sales will continue to grow at a faster rate than Windows notebooks, with Microsoft’s market share dropping to perhaps 70%, and Chromebook’s rising to 20%. (The remainder will go to Apple laptops.)

That means hundreds of millions of dollars a year are at stake with Microsoft’s upcoming release of Windows 10X, a Chrome-like operating system that Microsoft is betting will be a Chromebook killer.

Can it really do that, or will it be just another in a long line of failed Microsoft attempts to build a lightweight version of Windows for mobile devices?