Once upon a time, if you wanted a low cost laptop there was only Windows. A few laptops with a Linux based operating system would also be sold, or the more techie buyers could buy a laptop with DOS on board, and install their favorite Linux distribution. But for the most part, if you wanted a low cost laptop, you had only Windows.
Things have changed a lot in the past four years.
iOS. Most laptop buyers really did not need a laptop. Roughly half of a laptops bulk is due to the keyboard. So Apple yanked out the keyboard, used the smartphone operating system and came out with the iPad. Those in the past who would buy a netbook, which were decidedly poor in terms of build quality can get a very nice Apple iPad with a premium aluminum and glass finish starting at Php15,990.
Some would argue that a netbook is better, since it has a keyboard and can run Windows apps.
Anyone who used the keyboard a lot would eventually buy a real laptop. Typing on those small low quality keyboards netbooks came with was never very comfortable. I know. I owned two, replacing the first with a second model which promised a better keyboard, than I junked the netbook altogether realizing that that frame was simply to small to create a great keyboard. In addition, Apple iPad's, can also be equipped with keyboards.
As for Windows software. Most people wont miss it with over 300,000 iPad apps... which cost less than Windows apps.
Android. Google has followed Apple into the tablet arena, and these days you can find fast tablets with HD displays starting at Php3,990.
Mac OS X. Many of us still need a laptop. While all Macbook's are premium products, Macbook's are cheaper than ever. The 11.6-inch Macbook Air starts at Php46,990. That is the lowest price for a Macbook ever. However instead of a white plastic MacBook that screams entry level, the cheapest MacBook today is a the most portable MacBook Air, which many would select even if they had a larger budget.
While looking at making the transition from Windows to Mac OS X, you may want to take a look at iWorks too. It is a lot cheaper than MS Office.
Chrome OS. Chrome OS devices have yet to land in the Philippines, so it is not a good choice for the consumer. But if you are one of the growing number of companies or entities migrating to Google Apps, importing a large number of these low cost laptops, starting at US$199 might be worth the effort.
Microsoft, and its Windows and Office products, are still a force to be reckoned with, but it is no longer the near monopoly it used to be. What is nice is that the new order was not created by EU restrictions or anti-monopoly laws, but by innovation, smart supply chain management (here is one to you, Tim Cook) and the free market.