Microsoft announces devices to compete with Chromebooks


Microsoft is making a play against the classroom-famous Chromebooks. The tech giant announced Monday at the Bett edtech conference in London that it would be rolling out four new Windows 10 devices made specially for education, including one device that starts at $189.

“What we’ve heard a lot from districts is having a low-cost availability is important,” said Mike Tholfsen, a product manager with Microsoft Education, in an interview with EdScoop. “That’s an area — that price point [of under $200] — that most districts feel is attainable.”

With these new classroom devices, Microsoft is hoping to “bring the full power of a Windows device at the competitive price of the Chromebook,” Tholfsen said. “Part of the idea is offering low cost without compromising.”

Microsoft said the devices, from Lenovo and JP, are highly durable and spill resistant — qualities necessary for withstanding any K-12 classroom. They’re also equipped with long-lasting batteries and Microsoft’s latest touch, digital inking and 3-D technology. Tholfsen noted that the “rich” inking of Windows devices allows students and educators to do things digitally that they can’t do on paper. “That’s what we’re talking about not compromising,” he said.

Microsoft also announced a slew of new and improved personalized learning tools this week — from built-in dictation technology to expanded functionality of the Immersive Reader. And Teams, the chat-based hub announced last summer at ISTE and used in classrooms for the first time this school year, will now be available on phones and tablets.

The tech company is also working with PBS, NASA, the BBC and LEGO for a variety of STEM learning and mixed reality projects.

Microsoft has been working with Pearson, the world’s largest education company, to offer six new augmented reality and virtual reality applications for schools. Tholfsen said those six apps, which will cover six academic subjects, will be rolled out in March.