Microsoft challenges Google in the classroom with new devices, Office features

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In an ongoing effort to stay at the forefront in the minds of educators and students, Microsoft has unveiled four new laptops created to give students and schools what they need while not putting a huge dent in the wallet. At the annual Bett education show in London, Microsoft is revealing new Windows 10 and Windows 10 S devices that are priced from just $189.

Sales of Chromebooks-devices that operate on the Google operating systems-have surged in USA schools over the past few years, and Google now has 58 percent of the market share for operating systems, according to a recent estimate.

Microsoft and LEGO Education will also be offering a new free online Hacking STEM lesson plan, which has students use the Pythagorean Theorem to explore and measure topography in 2D/3D space. Lenovo will offer the $189 device in the form of the e100 Windows 10 laptop complete with 11.6-inch display, Intel Celeron processor, 4GB of RAM, either 64GB or 128GB of storage, and 10 hour battery life. Microsoft said all the new software capabilities will be available by the start of the next school year. Examples include dications in Office 365, to help students write more easily via voice, and an expanded immersive reader feature for Word for Mac, iPhone, Outlook Desktop, OneNote iPad and OneNote Mac.

Minecraft is getting a new chemistry module for students.

On the software side, Office 365 Education now supports dictation and assignment integration with Capita SIMs and Powerschool.

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Microsoft is partnering with the world's largest education company, Pearson, to bring a new range of VR and AR educational experiences to the HoloLens and Windows Mixed Reality headsets. But in the U.S., Chrome OS is continuing to outpace Windows in the K-12 education arena, according to the latest data from Futuresource Consulting. Though Google has mostly operated without competition in this niche thus far, Microsoft is looking to change that.

But Microsoft would be quick to remind you that this doesn't tell the whole story: That 22.3% share is up from 18.4% the quarter before, and Microsoft says, up 4% from the same period in 2016.

But Google is a formidable and ambitious rival, Davis said.

Mehdi gives Google credit where he believes credit is due: He says that Chromebooks didn't actually steal any marketshare away from Microsoft, per se; Google just discovered a previously-unmet demand for low-cost laptops and "made it affordable to have a computer in the classroom".

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