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Microsoft, Google battle it out in the playground over school PCs

With PCs increasingly being used by students in schools, technology companies are developing new solutions for giving teachers control of devices. Microsoft and Google each have their own solutions for this, pitching their Windows and Chrome OS environments respectively as the best way of keeping tabs on classwork.
Today, both companies unveiled new lines of affordable computers aimed at schools. Announced at the BETT conference in London, Microsoft and Google have gone head-to-head with education machines that include features specially designed for the classroom.
Microsoft – Windows 10 machines from Acer, HP and Lenovo
Microsoft unveiled Intune for Education, a new cloud-driven app and device management service that provides simple setup and management of digital learning environments. To complement the service, it launched a new range of Windows 10 PCs from partners Acer, HP and Lenovo that start at $189.

New Windows 10 laptops for education announced 24-01-2017

New Windows 10 laptops for education announced 24-01-2017
Microsoft


Acer’s new 11.6-inch TravelMate Spin B118 offers a convertible form factor that lets students use it as a tablet or laptop. It boasts up to 13 hours of battery life, enough for an entire day’s school work with playtime at the end. An active stylus for note-taking using Windows Ink is included. The device has a robust, classroom-friendly design that includes a spill-resistant keyboard and absorbent rubber bumper.
HP’s recently unveiled ProBook x360 11 Education Edition offers similar features for $289. It has its own Active Pen and a convertible form factor. For an even more budget-friendly device, the HP Stream 11 Pro G3 offers a basic computing experience for $189.

New Windows 10 laptops for education announced 24-01-2017

New Windows 10 laptops for education announced 24-01-2017
Microsoft


Lenovo revealed the new ThinkPad 11e series, built for use in education environments. It also too a rugged form factor designed to withstand knocks, drops and scrapes. Lenovo also announced its new N24 notebook, featuring an Active Pen for note-taking. Lenovo already offers the N22 and N23 Yoga, priced at $189 and $249 respectively. The N24 will launch in the summer.
Google – Chromebooks from Acer and Asus
Not to be outdone, Google showcased two new Chromebooks from Acer and Asus. Both have been designed in collaboration with schools and will be available from later in the spring.

File photo: Chromebooks are great for education.

File photo: Chromebooks are great for education.
Google


The laptops come with their own intelligent stylus that doesn’t need to be charged. Unlike the styluses of many Windows machines, it doesn’t need to be paired with a device before use, making it easier to replace if lost.
Acer and Asus have also included “world-facing” cameras. Rather than placing the camera above the display, it is located on the keyboard. The Chromebook can then be flipped and held like a tablet, letting students take photos of the world around them.

New Chromebooks for education announced 24-01-2017

New Chromebooks for education announced 24-01-2017
Google


Google is launching updates to its Google Classroom education service too. These work in tandem with the hardware features. Because Chromebooks can now run Android apps, the possibilities extended to students have been significantly expanded. Teachers can create libraries of pre-approved Android apps which can then be installed by the students.
Competition in education PCs
Microsoft and Google are both competing aggressively in the education space. Schools have unexpectedly become a key battleground of computing in recent years, driven by a demand for low-cost PCs that can be controlled by teachers.
Microsoft has been forced onto the offensive by Google’s stunning success, described by analysts as “frankly shocking.” In December 2015, 50% of all education PCs were Chromebooks, despite the laptops still having a miniscule market share overall. In 2012, Google held a 1% share of the sector.

New Windows 10 laptops for education announced 24-01-2017

New Windows 10 laptops for education announced 24-01-2017
Microsoft


Microsoft described its new range of Windows 10 laptops as “great alternatives” to Chromebooks. With prices now matching Google’s, the company is pitching Windows as a more robust solution that gives students and teachers more flexibility in the apps they use. The company said it wants to connect students across the world to modern technology, using Windows 10 as a base.
“At Microsoft, our mission is to empower every person on the planet to achieve more,” said Yusuf Mehdi, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft’s Windows and Devices group. “For students, we are committed to enabling better learning and preparation for the future through software and devices built for the modern era.”

HP Chromebook 11 G5

HP Chromebook 11 G5
HP


Google’s message is similar, suggesting that modern technology can enable students to achieve their full potential. Naturally, it sees Chromebooks as the best fit for the classroom.
“We believe in the power of technology to help students learn how they learn best and teachers teach the way they find most effective,” said Naveen Viswanathan, Product Manager of Google for Education. “We’ll continue to work with educators in 2017 to build tools that support the important work they do every day.”
With Microsoft and Google forced into fierce competition, students and teachers can expect more low-cost computers to choose from in the months to come. The hardware will be supported by equally robust cloud services, whether it’s Microsoft’s Office 365 and Intune or Google Classroom.

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