Microsoft unveiled a new operating system with a plethora of classroom tools. These new products are designed and aimed to compete with Chromebooks and other Google offerings in school markets.
A recent product announcement with employees and journalist revealed the theme for the new operating system, Windows 10 S.
The theme is Simplicity. The goal is “simplify to magnify.” In the words of Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s executive vice president, “Simplicity is power.”
In Microsoft’s mind, technology should help, not hinder, work in the classroom. Technology, in their mind, should “spark students’ creativity.”
Microsoft also launched a new device aimed at college students, The Surface Laptop. This laptop will run on Windows 10 S. It is focused on security, simplicity, and showing off what Windows 10 S can do.
Applications for Windows 10 S must be bought through the Windows store, and if other applications are wanted, users must upgrade to Windows 10 Pro, which is free to education users.
Google Chromes operating system on Chromebooks has become dominant in K-12 systems in the last few years. Those Google operating systems represent 58 percent of the U.S. market today, compared to 38 percent two years ago.
Google also offers the classroom productivity platform, G Suite for Education, which has become big for schools. Teachers use it for peer-to-peer collaboration, assigning and reviewing lessons, and plenty of other functions.
To compete, Microsoft announced they are making changes to Office 365 for Education. These changes will ramp up collaboration and integration with school learning management and student information systems, among other upgrades.
One large question is whether K-12 users will want to stick to the apps in the Windows Store or branch out.
Not all of Microsoft’s changes are focused on devices and productivity tools. The company is encouraging school development of student coding skills through Minecraft.
Microsoft seems intent on beating Google in the education market, but has plenty of catching up to do if they plan on surpassing Google in sales any time soon.