Microsoft hopes to climb back up to the head of the class as it takes on Google and Apple in the education market.
At a packed event in New York Tuesday, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced a new, streamlined education-focused flavor of its venerable operating system called Windows 10 S, which will work on inexpensive computers from other PC manufacturers, as well as Microsoft’s own new Surface Laptop. That machine costs $999 to start, is aimed at the higher-ed crowd, and puts Apple’s rival MacBook Pro ($1299 on up) and MacBook Air ($999 on up) in the crosshairs.
In a direct challenge to Apple’s premium-laptop dominance, Panos Panay, corporate vice president for Surface at Microsoft, said at Microsoft’s education event in New York: “We built a laptop that’s beautiful, but it’s beautiful because it’s personal. And it’s going to last you; it’s going to last that student from the day they start to the day they walk across that stage and collect their diploma four years later.
“The Surface Laptop is lighter and thinner than any MacBook Air or MacBook Pro currently available and it’s faster and has longer battery life than any MacBook on sale today. We want you to be proud of your laptop when you pull it out of the bag.”
The Surface Laptop runs Windows 10 S out of the box, but can be upgraded to Windows 10 Pro, and is available in a range of colours with the latest, seventh generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processors and up to 1TB of flash storage. The Surface Laptop costs from $999 with a Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage and will ship on 15 June.
What are the specs of the Microsoft Surface Laptop?
- Built in 6th Generation Intel Core processor
- 13.5inch, high-resolution PixelSense Display that offers 6million pixels
- Workable with pen and touch
- Facial recognition
- Battery life of more than 14 hours
- Dimensions: 12.30 x 9.14 x 0.51-0.90 inches
By emphasizing such features, Microsoft is clearly taking aim at Google, whose cloud-centric Chromebooks have taken a growing chunk of the classroom computing market in the U.S., as well as at Apple, whose laptops are popular among college users. However, Microsoft said it is not locking educational users into Windows 10 S if they want to switch to the company’s standard OS.
“At any time, they can go to the Windows Store and switch to Windows 10 Pro,” Myerson said. “This is a one-way switch, as when a user is running Windows 10 Pro they can install anything — but this is the magic of the open Windows platform, which we plan to always continue to make available alongside Windows 10 S.” After the free upgrade offer to Windows 10 Pro expires, users will still be able to switch for $50.