Will hybrid notebooks save Windows 8?

Will $1,500 hybrid notebooks save Windows 8? Of course not. Even $600 hybrid notebooks might not.

In a recent post, my ZDNet colleague Ed Bott asked if the tablet-notebook hybrid can save Windows 8 . It's an astonishing question because two of the three hybrids he reviewed were priced at over $1,500.

The over-$1,000 market is not a volume Windows market. Apple owns over 70 percent of the over $1,000 notebook market, and as PC sales start declining, Apple owns even more of that market.

That's why Ed's question is so astonishing. Windows 8 cannot be saved with notebooks that cost over $1,000 because there simply aren't enough of them sold, or enough of a market to "save" W8.

Winning over consumers

For Windows to remain a viable consumer platform — not only a business tool — vendors have to find a way to meet the requirements of the market they have created. And that market wants cheap hardware.

But there's hope in the form of the HP Envy X2. While the machine is slow and under-configured, it does a couple of things very well: terrific battery life and it only costs $700. If Windows has a future as a consumer platform, it will be with machines like the HP Envy.

The problem is that, today, even not too demanding consumers will likely see that the machine is slow and unresponsive. They've been spoiled by fast iPad and Android tablets.

PCs — including Macs — overshot consumer needs about 10 years ago, which explains why XP is still common. PCs are too hard to use and manage for most people — which is why tablets are so popular.

The Storage Bits take

I'm encouraged by the creativity of the industrial design in the units Ed chose to review. While none of these machines will be very successful, Moore's Law will help their successors.

However, Intel's more powerful processors may not be enough. The PC's ever-expanding volumes drove the lower prices. But as volumes decline, the ability of vendors to invest to lower costs even more will also decline.

We're looking at the long-term stagnation of the PC market. Thank goodness we have smartphones and tablets driving innovation today.

Stagnation isn't the worst fate for PCs, but the PC market going forward will be a lot different than what we've been used to for the last 30 years.

Comments are welcome, of course.