Microsoft and its PC partners bring low-cost Windows devices to education market
Microsoft is no longer content to sit in the back of the classroom and watch Google expand its share of the education market with Chromebooks. Along with PC OEM partners, Microsoft is releasing a slate of low-cost computing devices and software designed specifically for learning environments.
The Lowdown: The new two-in-one devices from Microsoft, Lenovo, Acer, and Dell run Windows 10 S, a locked-down version of the flagship operating system. Also offering Teams and OneNote collaboration software, as well as low-cost editions of its Surface Go pens, Microsoft aims to create compelling, competitive packages for the classroom.
The Details: Microsoft and its partners announced the new devices at the Bett educational technology conference in London last week. The devices start as low as $189 and run as high at $489. Software and accessories cost extra. Microsoft is offering educators Surface Go Pens in packs of 20 for $799, a unit cost of $39 compared to the $99 open market price.
The Impact: The devices from Microsoft, Lenovo, Acer, and Dell will give partners servicing the education market another tool to compete for lucrative business. However, it will take time for the devices to show any meaningful impact. In the United States, state and local governments — under which education falls — won’t see budgets refresh until July with the start of their fiscal years. Even then, Microsoft faces an uphill climb as Google has a big head start in the classroom.
Background: Over the past several years, Google broke Apple’s grip on the education market with its low-cost Chromebooks. Acer, Lenovo, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and Samsung offer Chromebooks ranging from $200 to $500, depending on quality and features. The popularity of Chromebooks in the classroom is bolstered by a plethora of instructional and collaboration software developed for the devices.
The education market’s demand for Chromebooks made them the fastest-growing part of the PC segment over the past several years, according to market tracking firm NPD.
Recently, Google has been pushing Chromebooks into the commercial market as well, encouraging businesses to adopt the devices as low-cost alternatives to Windows-based notebooks.
Microsoft first started taking on Google in the education market in 2017 with the release of Windows 10 S.