Windows 10s for Education: Microsoft Not Giving Schools to Google
With the release of Microsoft Windows 10 S laptops Microsoft makes a bid bid to compete, if not reclaim, the mindshare in education. Long-tested theory suggests that the machines people learn on in school become the machines they want to not only use, but to recommend, should those students eventually grow into business technology influencers. When Apple went up market, it maintained a toe hold in design, art and a few other education niches, but lost the core education market on the desktop. Enter Chromebooks and free Google apps, as well as near universal daily engagement via search, and Google seized education. Apple continues to seek education penetration through the iPad, best demonstrated by the young lady in a recent commercial saying “what is a computer?” in response to being asked what she is going with her computer. This remains a three horse race, but Apple is on a different track.
Microsoft is going into this competition with a newly rethought cloud-based Windows, but with machines that look decidedly traditional. The one non-traditional item: they start at $189US. These machines will run the Windows 10 S for Education with the intent that though highly underpowered as standalone machines, being optimized for Windows 10 S, they can, like Chromebooks, retain their performance through continuous update cycles. Because Microsoft’s cloud will do much of the heavy computational lifting, the machines can house lower-end processors and generally require less in terms of ports and other hardware features.
Microsoft’s value proposition gets enhanced with Office 365, which in many ways is actually more dominant that Windows. Emergent education features of Office 365 will provide new capabilities like voice-to-text for students who would rather dictate their papers than type them. With Cortana on the low-end of the burgeoning voice-assisted assistants like Alexa and Siri, bringing Windows to the classroom could also boost Microsoft’s thought-share in that category.
Microsoft’s OneNote will also get an upgrade to integrate it with assignment and grading systems. OneNote will also gain built-in STEM tools.
Updates to PowerPoint will allow teachers to record sessions. Administrators will appreciate Microsoft’s effort to provide enterprise management consoles and tools for privacy, security and device management as part of the education offering.
While these features clearly target global K-12, Microsoft will likely tout its new Office 365 features in the enterprise as they represent important enterprise learning features that could well gain uptake in learning and development scenarios.