“All the pieces are coming together for Microsoft to launch a direct competitor to Chromebooks…” argues an industry analyst writing for ZDNet:
Since adopting the Chromium rendering engine, Microsoft Edge has featured virtually perfect compatibility with Chrome, right down to being able to install extensions from the Chrome app store. It’s also enabled Microsoft to more easily support operating systems that Edge didn’t previously support such as macOS and Linux. But now that Edge is working well, might Microsoft try to go after Chrome OS? While a “lite” version of Windows has been rumored for years, many of the other pieces are already in place or announced.
First, Microsoft has made no secret of how it covets the education market that has embraced Chromebooks. It has fought back with low-cost Windows notebooks from partners that are competitively priced with such devices but may lack Chrome OS’ perception of simplicity and security.
Second, after years of having the web apps of office.com languish as Microsoft emphasized the PC versions, the online suite will be the first to take advantage of Fluid Framework, the company’s open-source component framework that allows the embedding of applet functionality and collaboration into a range of container documents such as Edge pages. Third, while the idea of Microsoft limiting the opportunity for Windows developers on a platform might have been unthinkable years ago, times have changed. Many developers, Microsoft included, have made web apps mainstream. Outside of the Windows-boosting Surface team, Microsoft seems indifferent as to where you access its subscription-based client and cloud offerings.
Finally, Microsoft now has the cross-processor architecture support to take the battle to Google — although, at least for now, it has exclusively focused on high-performance Qualcomm Snapdragon designs as opposed to Mediatek or Allwinner ARM-based chips in budget Chromebooks…
Microsoft’s strongest competitive point would be the greater focus on privacy, one of the best reasons to use Edge versus Chrome today.