A laptop using the weakest Intel hardware from late 2013 ~ early 2014 should handle Windows 8 just fine.
Of course the potential problem for Microsoft is whether or not the consumer wants Windows 8, although this problem might be more persistent in the tablet/touch market, not as much the laptop market.
That may be true, however, I just took a look at Best Buy for NEW Windows 8 laptops. The cheapest device is $280. If the OEMs save $35 with this program, it would still put the price above $250 and that is the absolute cheapest Windows 8 laptop sold at Best Buy.
The more I look at this, the more I'm convinced that this program is being done mainly for tablets, where Microsoft believes it can ride the huge growth being seen in Android tablets.