Microsoft is joining forces with PC companies to supply school districts with Windows devices that won't break the bank.
Just ahead of the Bett education conference in London, taking place Jan. 24-27, Microsoft took the wraps off four new budget-friendly Windows 10 PCs from Lenovo and JP Sá Couto, or JP for short. JP is a Portuguese device maker that Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Windows and Devices group, described as one of the company's "largest partners in emerging markets," in a Jan. 22 announcement.
While it may seem a little early to think about the back-to-school season—at least for students and parents in the Northern Hemisphere where classes generally start back up in September—educators are just now beginning to evaluate their technology options and plot out their strategies for the start of the next school year, said Eran Megiddo, corporate vice president of OneNote, Wunderlist and Education at Microsoft.
The new announcements build on the momentum established by Microsoft's major school technology push of May 2017, which saw the introduction of the Surface Laptop, Windows 10 S and Teams for the classroom, said the executive. Since the revamp, the company has begun to gain ground in the education market, Megiddo told eWEEK. "We are starting to win share back," he said.
One pillar of Microsoft's strategy to continue to gain market share, particularly in the face of stiff competition from Google's Chromebook ecosystem, involves teaming with hardware partners to deliver "the right devices at the right price point," said Megiddo.
Those devices include Lenovo's new Lenovo 100e laptop. Powered by an Intel Celeron Apollo Lake processor, the laptop slips under that $200 barrier with prices starting at $189. Microsoft and Lenovo also took the wraps off the Lenovo 300e, a convertible PC that can enter tablet mode and features stylus support.
From JP comes the Classmate Leap T303, a laptop that hits the "sub-$200 price point that matters to schools," Megiddo noted. The device also sports a ruggedized design that can handle the less-than-delicate hands of elementary school kids, he added, plus batteries that won't have teachers scrambling for a charger during class.
A step up from the Classmate Leap T303 is the JP Trigono V401, a two-in-one PC with pen and touch capabilities with a starting price tag of $299.
"These new devices join the HP ProBook x360 11 EE, which continues to be one of our best-selling 2-in-1 devices in education at just $299 USD and the recently released HP Stream 11 Pro G4 EE PC starting at $225 USD," stated Mehdi. "They are all spill resistant and ruggedized to avoid accidental breakage, have long battery life to avoid charging wires all over the classroom and have faster connectivity."