May 2, 2017, Microsoft introduced their Google App for Education (GAFE) ecosystem killer–Windows 10S, Minecraft Edu, Insight, and Office 365 Teams.
Having seen how Microsoft missed the boat back in 2012 when GAFE in combination with inexpensive Chromebooks were on the verge of taking over the education market, I can honestly say that today’s announcement has put Microsoft ahead of Google in terms of their offerings–starting with Windows 10 S, on platforms with a base price of $189.
Nevertheless, Microsoft has a big challenge ahead of itself. For the past 5 years, Google has grown its roots deep into the education market with the abundance of inexpensive Chromebook device alternatives. That’s because many school districts in the US have adopted the Chromebook as their standard platform for assessment testing and web-based curricular programs. At the district where I work, the number of Chromebook devices has skyrocketed to around 26,000 units with another 9,000 on order soon. The teachers like them because they boot up in a matter of around 6 to 10 seconds compared to the older Windows-based laptops that would take around 30 seconds to 2 minutes to completely boot up. Technicians like them because they are easy to re-image, and there isn’t much to fix. Through Google’s management console, all these Chromebooks are easy to manage.
The solutions announced by Microsoft today has met and exceeded the capabilities of Google. From what I see, the fact that Windows 10 S can boot up in 5 seconds is a major plus. The base price of $189 is also a major plus. Where they will beat google are in these areas:
- Availability of Minecraft.edu.
- Applications that are mostly non-internet dependent
- Ease of image deployment in small scale environment–through the use of a flash drive.
- Ease of device management in large scale through Insight
- Free Windows 10 S on genuine Windows Pro PCs
- Integration with next generation technology like 3D and augmented reality applications
All these are supposed to be available to schools this summer. Unfortunately and realistically, it may be two to three years before they make deep inroads into schools that are already using Chromebooks. This is assuming that they are able to maintain their technological edge.
What say you Google?