I was just browsing around the Dell store. They have an inexpensive Windows 8.1 machine on sale for less than $250. It has the same Celeron processor as their Chromebooks, but with 4 gigs of ram. They are selling their Chromebook models starting at $279 (and I had to go looking for it since it did not appear on their landing page) with only 2 gigs of ram. So will this put an end to the challenge from Chromebooks? At Dell it will, but not on Amazon. The Acer C720 is still $200 and thus cheaper than the Dell Windows machine. If you buy a Windows machine, you have to invest in security software and be prepared to have your machine infected at any time. You have no such worry with a Chromebook. Now you can use all the Google apps with a Windows machine so you do not need to invest in software for the Windows machine if you don't want to, but why buy the Windows machine then? If you do want to use specific software, be prepared to pay! Also, most of the software will not function all that well on a cheap Windows machine. It's just not fast enough. So a cheap Windows machine will not truly run anything of note well enough to justify buying it.
If you want an inexpensive laptop buy the least expensive Chromebook you can find (Acer C720 on Amazon) and save yourself all the money and hassle any other system would cause you. I think Microsoft is trying to do to Chromebooks what they did to netbooks. Microsoft wants to kill the low end market with crappy Windows machines. Unfortunately, I think they will just push more and more people over to Chromebooks, which is just fine by me.
What do you think?