Microsoft is going big on education for Windows Mixed Realty

Gwen Vasquez
January 23, 2018

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.

Microsoft is joining forces with PC companies to supply school districts with Windows devices that won't break the bank.

"Affordability is the top priority for many schools", said Yusuf Mehdi, head of Microsoft's Windows and Devices Group.

At an event in London, Microsoft and its manufacturing partners announced a new generation of cheap Windows 10 S devices aimed at the education market.

Lenovo is announcing the 100e, a new Intel Celeron Apollo Lake powered PC, starting at $189, and the Lenovo 300e, a 2-in-1 PC that comes with pen, starting at $299. The new Lenovo devices are joined by two from JP, with a Windows Hello laptop priced at $199 and a pen and touch device at $299.

"What we've heard a lot from districts is having a low-priced availability is important", said Mike Tholfsen, a product manager with Microsoft Education, in an interview with EdScoop.

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Microsoft will offer Windows 10 PCs to schools for as little as $189 (£135) as it looks to get its hardware and services in as many classrooms as possible. "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".

Beyond the hardware, Mehdi highlights updates to the software in the Office 365 for Education suite. Microsoft also is expanding the company's Immersive Reader assistive technology to Word for Mac, iPhone, Outlook Desktop, OneNote iPad and OneNote Mac.

Microsoft testing a new Diagnostic data viewer in Windows 10, allowing the users to view, control and delete the data. 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. Microsoft is also partnering with PBS and NASA to expand its Mixed Reality curriculum through the Bringing the Universe to America's Classrooms initiative. Pearson will start rolling out in March six new immersive applications that will work on HoloLens and Windows Mixed Reality headsets.

Presentations in Microsoft PowerPoint can now be recorded-including slides, video and narrations-and published to the Microsoft Teams communication platform, a change Microsoft says will help give students easier access to teaching materials and lessons.

Other interesting new projects include Minecraft getting a "World of Chemistry" update to help promote Chemistry learning in schools by making objects including glow sticks, rapid grow fertilizer, and underwater torches in Minecraft.

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