Study Suggests That the Battle for K-12 is Already Over

Posted on May 9, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Cloud, iOS, Microsoft Surface, Mobile, Windows 10 with 78 Comments

Study Suggests That the Battle for K-12 is Already Over

In the wake of Microsoft’s renewed push for the education market, a new study suggests that the battle may already be over. And in K-12, at least, Microsoft has lost.

“Educators and administrators hold Google’s products in high regard and are willing to vouch for them among their peers,” EdWeek reports. “Google’s education rivals, Apple and Microsoft, as well as Amazon, earn mixed reviews … When asked which school-provided tools educators and students use most for instruction in their districts, 42 percent of survey respondents said Chromebooks, far outpacing PC laptops, at 15 percent, and PC desktops and Apple iPads, both at 13 percent.”

This market is important. Just before the event at which Microsoft unveiled Windows 10 S, Surface Laptop, and various education initiatives, I wrote that the software giant could not afford to lose education. But PC loyalists have a blind spot when it comes to Chromebooks because these devices are not as powerful as PCs. The problem is that schools love them, for their simplicity, low price, and manageability.

The EdWeek study confirms this.

First, Chromebooks now has a “dominant share of the U.S. K-12 market.” 42 percent of the school districts in the United States that provide their own devices to students use Chromebooks, compared to under 15 percent for PC laptops, under 13 percent for PC desktops, and under 13 percent for iPads. Macs sit at under 9 percent, and Microsoft Surface is used by only 0.71 percent of districts.

This usage shows us what schools are doing now. But satisfaction helps us understand what will happen in the future. Here, Microsoft gets mixed results.

“Microsoft scored lower than Google in a number of rankings of K-12 officials’ satisfaction,” the report notes. “But a much stronger percentage of those surveyed, 46 percent, rated their purchases of Microsoft products as excellent or good, than did those who rated them as poor or fair, at a combined 13 percent.”

A huge part of Google’s appeal in the cash-strapped education market is the price: Google offers its G Suite web applications for free to teachers and students. And that strategy is working: G Suite, like Chromebooks, dominate education: Almost 68 percent of school districts use this solution, compared to just 17 percent for Microsoft’s Office 365 Education.

Google also makes the Chrome OS that powers Chromebooks available for free to device makers. The result is a large market of inexpensive devices aimed specifically at education.

“Chromebooks boot up quickly and are easily shared,” EdWeek notes. “Chromebooks’ low cost gives district leaders confidence that they can buy large numbers of the devices and replace them if needed, without major financial consequences.”

Finally, Google has done a tremendous job making Chromebooks easy to manage, EdWeek notes.

“The support cost for computers was much higher than the cost of the device itself,” Google’s Rajen Sheth told EdWeek in an interview. With Chromebooks, “the manageability [is] simple,” and districts have found they “could buy tens or thousands of Chromebooks, and they didn’t have to hire a single IT person.”

Google’s popularity in education is all the more impressive when you consider the privacy concerns that many have voiced about this company and its business practices. And while the districts surveyed by EdWeek did express concerns, the overwhelming dominance of Google in education indicates that schools do trust Google.

The good news for Microsoft is that it continues to lead in the non-K-12 market, which I take to mean higher education. This, I think, explains the Surface Laptop—a product specifically designed for the traditional four-year college stint (a number that may be outdated, by the way)—Windows 10 S, and Intune for Education. Each is more applicable to higher education than to K-12.

Microsoft’s offerings are “richer” than those by Google, EdWeek notes, and its tools “better prepare students for the challenges of the workplace.”

And in a move that mirrors what we see in the business world, education seems to be abandoning the one provider model—where an Apple, Google or Microsoft might “win” an entire district—and are mixing and matching in order to get the best solution across the board.

In this hybrid world of the future, Microsoft might have a lower overall market share, but because the market itself is so much bigger and more inclusive, it could still grow and be very successful. The only issue for the education market is that such mixing is more complicated and could require more training or more staff.

Critics will note that this study reflects only the US market, and that Microsoft still dominates education worldwide. And yes, that is true. But as we’ve seen so many times—in the PC market, and in smartphones, as obvious examples—things are changing. And give Microsoft some credit: This time it is at least responding and not waiting an interminable number of years before doing something about a clear and present danger.

That said, it’s not clear how Microsoft’s announcements this week will win over K-12. The firm never said how much PC makers would save by using Windows 10 S, so it’s not clear if the product is free or just cheaper. (Consumers will pay $50 to upgrade from Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Pro; the cost of doing so from Windows 10 Home is $100.)

PCs running Windows 10 S do cost about the same as typical Chromebooks, but as noted, it’s the maintenance that really weighs on school districts. To that end, PCs are still far more complex than Chromebooks. And it’s likewise not clear that Microsoft’s management solution for K-12 is as seamless or fast as what Google offers. Microsoft never compared its solution to Google’s at the event earlier this month, it compared it to what was previously available in the PC world.

So we’ll see. But with K-12 falling to Google, Microsoft has a tough fight on its hands. And it needs to truly match Google—on price, simplicity, and speed—before it can even hope to compete effectively.


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Comments (79)

79 responses to “Study Suggests That the Battle for K-12 is Already Over”

  1. Vidua

    Because US is the only country on Earth.

    > But as we’ve seen so many times—in the PC market, and in smartphones, as obvious examples—things are changing.

    Except Microsoft had staggering growth since 2014 in edu market worldwide, literally destroying every opposition, including Chromebooks which hold only 6% of the global market in K-12.

    So yes, things are changing - back to Microsoft after trying out Chromebooks, Androids, iPads, Linux etc.

  2. Jeff Jones

    "To that end, PCs are still far more complex than Chromebooks."

    Paul, you probably meant Windows is more complex than Chrome OS. The PC hardware on both is roughly the same in complexity.

    I've seen this happen a few times in various articles where you used "PC" interchangeably for "Windows". I give a pass to novices or casual conversation, but you should try to be more precise with these written articles.

  3. hrlngrv

    My son got his degree in applied math last year. Windows 10 S would have been useless for him. Maybe Windows 10 S PCs could be used by biology and earth science undergrads, but the rest of STEM departments plus math-heavy Economics would require software Windows 10 S just can't run.

    So, Windows 10 S the OS for English majors?

    • BluetoothFairy1

      In reply to hrlngrv: Not really true. They said that the schools will be able to upgrade to 10PRo for free - install whatever software they will want, then downgrade back to 10S and deploy with these non-store apps. MSFT knew well that some critical apps for schools were not in the store.
      I wish that I' ll have the ability as a consumer to do the same, upgrade to Pro, install apps and downgrade back to S, because I really like the security aspect of S - no ransomware or any other malware. A breath of fresh air...

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to BluetoothFairy1:

        . . . install whatever software they will want, then downgrade back to 10S and deploy with these non-store apps . . .

        I've read many articles which say Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Pro is one-way. The only way to revert from Pro to S is through System Restore, which wipes everything on the local drive.

        Do you have a link to any article which mentions downgrading back to S?

    • chaad_losan

      In reply to hrlngrv:

      MS knows that nearly 100% of windows 10 S machines will be instantly upgraded to Pro (When they use Edge to download and run Chrome). This is more a symbolic move than anything else. Windows 10 S is for really no one.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to chaad_losan:

        Windows 10 S isn't symbolic, it's pure marketing, meaning pure BS. MSFT will crow about Windows 10 S activations and say absolutely nothing about conversions from S to Pro. MSFT will do its damnedest to make it look like Windows 10 S is succeeding and the Windows Store with it. MSFT won't lie about anything, but it won't provide full info either.

  4. MikeGalos

    Let's be honest, a report prepared before the Microsoft initiative only says what would have been true without the initiative. This is not only non-news but now an obsolete report.

    • Darmok N Jalad

      In reply to MikeGalos:

      If we're being honest, MS fostering another initiative doesn't exactly guarantee much either. There are a long list of unsuccessful initiatives from MS at the OS level, especially since Windows 8. Locking the education system into a deserted UWP store with only Edge for a browser isn't a promising start.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to MikeGalos:

      Perhaps, but it's unlikely any US school district currently using Chromebooks would switch to Windows 10 S for the 2017-8 school year. Also, it's likely school districts currently using Windows PCs would also have paid for licenses for desktop software which, aside from Office, would almost certainly NOT be available in the Windows Store. Figure damn few of them would switch to Windows 10 S for 2017-8.

      What does that leave in the education market? A few too-rich private schools?

      I figure most Windows 10 S machines bought in 2017 will be bought by individuals, not schools, and most will be converted to Pro for free. Windows 10 S will be lucky to have 1 million users by year-end 2017. It may take years for Windows 10 S to catch up with Apple in education.

  5. Athena Azuraea

    I remember College. I remember what the requirements were. I remember students not having much money and the college requiring every student to bring their own laptop. I also remember every application used in the education was for available in the Windows Store. That was maybe 2-3 years ago, but I highly, highly doubt they're all available in the store now.

    Point is, these laptops don't work for college either. Because colleges use a lot of powerful suite of tools that they have to run to do their education and those apps just aren't in the store, and frankly, I doubt they ever will be. So do pray tell, how is a very expensive laptop that cannot run software that college needs a good laptop for college education? Because it does not sum up to me.

    These laptops are dead on arrival in the education sector. I don't think any school would want them. That's what I believe.

  6. jwpear

    Microsoft better pay attention. If they lose education, they lose the coveted commercial market.

  7. MarkPow

    "...the non-K-12 market, which I take to mean higher education." - Is the UK equivilent to K-12 9-16 year olds?

  8. nbplopes

    Microsoft seams still following a business model based licensing the OS for its consumer / prosumer oriented OS.

    With Windows 10 S MS has the opportunity to change the business model and base the OS driven revenue on:

    1) App Store

    2) Managed Services around the the App Store

    3) Full Managed Services around the App Store

    Bottom line, make Windows 10 S free to download and install to remove concerns. But that is not enough:

    Chrome OS / Chromebooks do the above, yet it goes further. Its seams that the Windows focused community are becoming more and more interested in Progressive Apps. The bottom line is that the underlying tech is today able to run everywhere. From smartphones to desktops ... even setopboxes.

    Saying things like this does not mean an thing to Education or the end user in general. Yet if we say that education materials done with progressive web apps is not confined to a particular OS or Device than it makes more sense.

    Companies that focus in developing client side technology following the progressive apps goals seam to be poised to do better in the Education market than the ones that do not. Google is one of them. All ChromeOS apps seam to be progressive ... unlike Android, iOS apps or UWP / Windows 10. In fact I believe that iPad haven't done even better because ... "my kid accessing the content on the iPad and he loves it ... wait but now is on the Windows PC or Chromebook and he cannot move back hand forth to access that content ... ummm". That is, learning materials become ransoms to a device or OS and that is a no go for the Education market in the long run. An app is content!

    Bottom line, MS made UWP for Windows only. We might say that has some progressive features, such as responsive UIs, but its still Windows only. Another thing is Bing. Its not so much that the user can't go around it by opening the google search page. Its the attitude.

    So I would think the way forward is to do better in the cases that others to good and unleash hell to the cases that others do bad or no so good. Easy to say, harder to get done.

    Than optimize, optimize and optimize the OS so it runs better and better in lower cost devices. I doubt that a $300 Windows device runs Minecraft Education efficiently, for instance.

    In other words its should not matter in which device or OS the content is served apart from over all efficiency. UWP was a step back in that direction ... I believe. Neither does Apple with its Cocoa Apps.

    From a Cloud Service provider also were the client runs it does not matter. Azure is being built with that premiss in mind. Also for Azure it does not matter if server code runs in Windows or Linux, Intel or ARM, used the Microsoft Stack, NodeJS stack or whatever other Stack. I think this is one of the things that make it so successful as well as Amazon AWS (heck, Amazon is a Retailer, that built its infrastructure in this premiss, how well are they doing?).

    If MS championed this oh dear ...

  9. chrisrut

    This need to dramatically reduce TCO will reshape every market as we proceed. Wait till it hits the enterprise! Just a couple of selling seasons out that will be the new normal.

    But while price will be crucial, in the very near term AI will be even more so. So keep your eye on two vectors: The degree to which AI is delivered from the cloud, and the degree to which that AI will be supported and enhanced - or otherwise delivered at the use points.

  10. William Clark

    the overwhelming dominance of Google in education indicates that schools do trust Google

    I'd say more like the overwhelming lower price of Chromebooks indicates that schools don't care about students privacy. I sold into the K-12 market for several years. Battled Chromebooks and sold Chromebooks as well. At the end of the day no one was asking about security or data privacy. All they wanted to know is how much?

  11. chaad_losan

    Even in Canada Google Chomebooks rule.

  12. John Scott

    Couple things that are negatives for Chromebooks. One is that they do poorly when it comes to curriculum available to them, and second we are seeing a end of life scenario for Chromebooks of around 5 years. We also have yet to see Android apps on most Chrome OS devices, even though Google promised them months ago. Also try running a White board on a Chromebook or do complex anything on them. Students do benefit but the weak hardware does not make them good long term and a 5 year support time frame is rather weak. Microsoft could exploit some of these weaknesses or it could lose out to bottom line pricing of Chromebooks. I think what Microsoft is afraid of is not so much losing lower education, but also losing upper education and having that translate to business. If students learn on Chrome OS, and not be exposed to Windows or Microsoft products. Will this sway business away from Microsoft and towards Google? Simply on the basis that more will be versed on Chrome OS? Let's also be clear though, that for Chromebooks and education this is purely a US driven thing. Mainly because education in America is broke and adopting anything cheap to claim a technology level educational environment.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to John Scott:

      At US$300 or less per Chromebook, 5 year useful life isn't outrageously short. Buy a replacement Chromebook after 5 years, and you have another 5 years of support.

      As for whiteboards, that may be something which requires a different OS. Ditto printers and all sorts of other peripherals. Out of curiosity, how many smartphones work with whiteboards?

    • chaad_losan

      In reply to John Scott:

      Educators care about ZERO of these things. Absolutely ZERO. The only thing they really care about is price and support costs. The system works well enough that they are happy with "good enough".

  13. Ugur

    I don't get how the battle could already be over when chromebooks aren't even sold in most countries around the world (yet).

    Now, i have mixed feelings about windows 10 S

    (as i said before i'd find it much more reasonable if on first boot it would let users/admins decide whether to install/run win 10 S or Pro for the main account and it would allow one to switch between them anytime (in non destructive way) on per user level (again should be limitable by the admin) so it becomes a nice additional more locked down but also more secure choice one would maybe intentionally want to enable when the kid (or a visitor) or pupil uses the laptop, or maybe an English class instead of a class doing programming or whatever else that may need desktop apps).

    But yeah, overall, the battle is not just forever ongoing, this round has really just started now.

    So the mentioned report is both outdated and total nonsense.

  14. hrlngrv

    Matching Google on management simplicity is likely to be big challenge, possible an insurmountable one for MSFT.

  15. BudTugglie

    Typical Microsoft move - send the team out on the field after the game has ended.....

  16. Jorge Garcia

    I think my 9-y.o. nephew is a good case study of what a fractured, inelegant PC world we live in, and will live in for the next half-decade, at least. He is allowed to bring his (very nice and rugged) Chromebook home from school, but he almost never cracks it open. His consumption/amusement device of choice is BY FAAAAR his iPad mini. He has his own full Windows 10 PC set up as well, but of course that only collects dust. I don't see him ever using Windows until he is in the workforce, and who knows what will exist by then? If aliens were to arrive tomorrow, what a shameful PC landscape we would have to show off :)

    • William Clark

      In reply to Jorge Garcia:

      I don't know if he's the best test case. As a 9 yr old I suspect his needs are not quite the same as a young adult of even an older adult. I'm sure he loves the iPad because it has games that he likes and he can watch whatever cartoons or shows he likes. He probably doesn't use email that much and probably doesn't web surf much either, unless it's in connection to the games/shows he watches.

      iPads are great, most everyone in my family has one. As a consumption device it's about as good as it gets. As a productivity device, I feel that it's less capable than a PC. Sure you can do lots of productive stuff on an iPad but if you outfit an iPad with keyboard and sufficient storage you're into the same price range as a mid-range laptop, maybe higher.

      I looked long and hard at an iPad Pro and almost made the jump but in the end I went with an Acer Switch Alpha 12. Perhaps not quite as thin as the iPad and certainly not as good battery life but it does everything else and it was about $200 cheaper than the iPad (and included the keyboard and pen).

      Also, when compared to a Chromebook iPads are far more expensive. Probably 2x. I suspect the reason your nephew doesn't grab the Chromebook is because in his mind that's like grabbing a text book for recreational reading.

    • Darmok N Jalad

      In reply to Jorge Garcia:

      Sounds like we have more choice than ever!

  17. Waethorn

    Let me just put this out there:

    You can run a basement bargain bin Chromebook with 16GB of storage and not have to worry about storage concerns.

    Can you do the same with Windows? What about 32GB? I'm going to bet anybody here that any 32GB Windows system will run into problems with storage space for Windows Updates once a new Windows 10 builds ship.

  18. jjaegers

    Microsoft has a real timing issue... they are always late to the game and when they get there they are always a little behind the opposition... They needed this solution out there when schools in the US started replacing their aging PCs with laptops... Windows 8 may have been MS biggest mistake in 20 years... they were so reactionary to the iPad and spent so much time and effort pushing Windows to a place where it didn't really need to be that they left things like the k-12 market open for someone like Google to swoop in and take their place.  Office is FAAARRR better than Google Docs in almost every aspect... and I don't just mean the high end stuff no one ever uses in something like Excel... my 3rd grader is a wizard with power point and can make some fantastic stuff but she complains every time they are forced to do stuff in Google's presentation software.

    • Jules Wombat

      In reply to jjaegers:

      Well if they had stuck with Windows RT, they would not have lost 3 years.

      Simplified Windows on ARM, is the only asnwer to a maintenance free Chromebook. Windows 10 S is comming from the wrong angle, still too complex (its basically Windwos Pro). The end game in Education markey , and consumers will be Android based.

      • Jorge Garcia

        In reply to Jules Wombat: I agree that Android, terrible as it is at its core, is the inevitable future. Almost 90% of the connected world access their data through Android, and as such, development for that platform will be strong for quite a while. But eventually you must be able to run those programs on more than just a phone or tablet, and once you can, those programs will mature into more desktop-friendly versions of themselves.

      • Jorge Garcia

        In reply to Jules Wombat: This is true. Windows RT was actually a brilliant product, and will probably return in some iteration eventually. But like the similarly trailblazing Windows Mobile, it just wasn't meant to be. Or, MS just botched it in some way.

  19. Tsang Man Fai

    I believe Microsoft's move of Win10S is to capture the education market in areas outside US.  They clearly know the situation in US.  If they can prevent Google from eating the education market in other regions, it is already very successful for Microsoft.

  20. steskalj


    I listen to your windows weekly podcast with Mary Jo, and I love it. So please continue the good work.

    One thing you are missing from your article is that Microsoft said during the announcement last week that Windows 10 s will be free to all school districts that want to update existing equipment. This alone could sway many cash strapped school districts. All they need to do is plug in a thumb drive and in 30 seconds they can refresh that hardware with Windows 10 s.

    Also, Microsoft is giving them Free Microsoft Office 365 for Education with Microsoft Teams. This type of subscription alone in any other space would be $10 per user per month.

    So as Vidua pointed out, things are changing, but Microsoft may finally hold the cards it needs to win in this space.

    • Jules Wombat

      In reply to steskalj:

      It doesn't matter if the PCs are Cheap, and he Software is Free.

      Don't you guys get it yet, the Support costs for Windows is still much too high, Schools (and consumers) are fed up with having to hire IT guys to keep their computers running.

      Chromebooks, migrating into Android based PCs will be the future, because the admin costs are so low.

      • Greg Green

        In reply to Jules Wombat:

        I thought this was the most powerful paragraph in the article:

        "The support cost for computers was much higher than the cost of the device itself,” Google’s Rajen Sheth told EdWeek in an interview. With Chromebooks, “the manageability [is] simple,” and districts have found they “could buy tens or thousands of Chromebooks, and they didn’t have to hire a single IT person.”

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to Greg Green:

          . . . and they didn’t have to hire a single IT person . . .

          Echoes of the late 1980s and early 1990s, when IBM tried to protect mainframes and OS/2 against MSFT's onslaught by hinting that the brave new Windows PC world would mean fewer MIS/DP jobs.

          Now it's MSFT's turn to be the new IBM, at least in the education market.

          Make Windows management as simple as possible in education, and SMBs will begin to ask why they need complex and costly maintenance systems. Give SMBs the same tools, and large enterprises will also demand simpler and cheaper. The value of MSFT certs will evaporate. IT people will become less dependent on MSFT.

      • Waethorn

        In reply to Jules Wombat:

        I don't think Android really does much for the education market any more than iPad's. Chrome's strength is the web.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to steskalj:

      . . . Microsoft may finally hold the cards it needs to win in this space.

      Yup, if MSFT gives away Windows 10 S and Office 365 for free, they might just pry back several school districts from Google . . . unless the money saved by schools not having to pay for software licenses would be more than burned up in more expensive and/or slower PC maintenance compared to Google/Chromebooks.

      I figure Windows 10 S and Office 365 for free means Windows is still substantially more expensive and cumbersome to maintain.

  21. Darmok N Jalad

    Sorry, but MS has waited too long to respond. Announcing W10S after substantial damage has been done isn't enough. Maybe all this time Chromebooks should have been viewed for their merits, but instead they just got mocked for being only a browser. Meanwhile, Google has been trying to understand how the next generation would use technology in the classroom, and what they found was that many kids would rather type an entire paper on their phones and then clean up the formatting on a chromebook. With technology being relatively new to education, the complexity of PC just isn't necessary, especially in terms of deployment and hardware.

    • Fuller1754

      In reply to Darmok N Jalad:

      No one would rather "type" an entire paper on their phone. Typing full reports on a phone sounds like some version of hell from Greek mythology.

    • Tsang Man Fai

      In reply to Darmok N Jalad:

      "what they found was that many kids would rather type an entire paper on their phones and then clean up the formatting on a chromebook." - this is a neutral statement.  The kids may also do the formatting on a PC.

      While you may think the complexity of a PC is not necessary for kids below grade 12, they need a device capable of more complex tasks as they grow up.  And they'll find their chromebook not capable, and then either switch to PC or Mac.

      Unless Chromebooks evolve to become a full-blown PC...

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to Tsang Man Fai:

        For kids under 18, what tasks? Or more precisely, what school-oriented tasks? Complex computing? R Fiddle, Octave Online, Scilab Cloud, Wolfram Alpha and a few others provide all the numerical and symbolic computing anyone not yet in university would need. For more mundane productivity, G suite is more than sufficient.

        Once in university, Chromebooks may no longer be adequate, but Windows 10 S is also inadequate without explosive growth in Windows Store offerings.

        [Tangent: Chromebook in developer mode with crouton installed can become a Linux laptop.]

      • Waethorn

        In reply to Tsang Man Fai:

        And people wonder why Google is taking their time to roll out Android apps to the platform....

  22. Patrick3D

    My Mom runs the computer lab at an elementary school in Silicon Valley, last time I spoke with her about computer curriculum Microsoft Office was still required with certain student projects requiring the kid to use Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. At the end of the day the computer and OS are not as important as the license or subscription purchased for the software being used. Many Chromebooks are being used in conjunction with an Office365 subscription.

  23. Narg

    Folks, if you get a chance stop by any local Higher Education's study hall or library. I still find it amazing how many Apple laptops you'll see in use at these places. Yet the "studies" show they are at only 9%? Maybe they aren't used, but just a status symbol. Not sure.

    I can definitely see why Chromebooks rule education in the K-12 sector. Not only are they cheap, which is odd because Windows laptops can be had for the same price point. But Google is just dirt simple to use for this purpose. Both for the Students AND for the Educators. Microsoft products for education are plagued with ambiguity and complexity that really doesn't make them a "must have" tool for education. I know Microsoft is trying to fix that, but in the studies I've participated in I'm not convinced yet they have the right mix. Microsoft could do better, much better. Price is already right, usability is the key and it's not there.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Narg:

      . . . because Windows laptops can be had for the same price point . . .

      As mentioned in the article, it's the maintenance cost which favors Chromebooks. I interpret that as MSFT tried to make its Windows maintenance products a profit center and/or it takes a MSFT certification to understand how to maintain a lot of Windows PCs. Doesn't matter. The perception, fair or not, is that Windows PCs are too expensive to maintain, so MSFT needs to demonstrate otherwise, and that means comparisons against Google's offerings rather than against MSFT's older offerings.

  24. Bats


    Paul Thurrott in a way is like a teacher. He probably thinks of himself as one, as well as Leo Laporte. You know what they say about teachers or people who can't make it or understand the real world...."If you can't do,...teach."

    I don't know, if Paul still "doesn't get it," because the war is not being lost by Microsoft on the hardware front. Let me put it this way, so Paul Thurrott will understand. Last week at the Microsoft event, we just didn't see sub $200 Windows 10 S laptops, but in those same machines we saw potential Chromebooks. For $50 extra unlock the Chromebook potential in each and every sub $200 Windows 10 S laptop. However, not to worry. The lost people at Windows Central, NeoWin, and the Supersite don't get it either. 

    This post in Paul Thurrott is, as usual, ridiculously slanted. LOL...the article states that, "Microsoft tools betters kids for the future?" How? Office 365 classes to 5th graders? That's ridiculous! Plus do history and Math teachers care about that? Do Science and English teachers find ways to incorporate MINECRAFT into their lesson plans? This is not utterly ridiculous, but just plain....ok, let's just end with ridiculous. Microsoft's problem is how do you convince schools to keep, maintain, and upgrade their servers while Google has told them..."Don't worry about that stuff. Just teach." That's it the REAL PROBLEM Microsoft faces. Not cheap laptops. If Microsoft does anything like what Google does, I am sure it's a big money-loser for them.


    Like I said, in a previous post by Paul, Google ecosystem for education is so vast, that Microsoft cannot match it. For teachers, the apps (from what i have read) have proven to be invaluable for them as it helps them to manage their classes efficiently with ease. Reminder...teachers are not TECH SAAVY. Subject lessons can be performed with the use of the content on the web, but also via Youtube in terms of regular video and 360. Even Paul described how he was marveled by his "virtual" trip to space via an airballoon. BTW, that whole virtual experience can be had for only $9.99 via Google Cardboard. Microsoft's response.....a $3,000 helmet? I said this in previous post...All (educational) Roads Go Thru Google.


    When I read this post, I sense "frustration" from Paul, as it seems that Microsoft just can't seem to find a foothold in it's battles. He nitpicking phrases from another article and using non-sense issue like "privacy" against Google, when all tech companies (like Microsoft) suffer from the same thing. It's articles like this, absent of objectivity, that really harms his readers. For example, how many people under Paul ridiculous recommendation and example bought the OnePlus 3, just to learn that their "leader" is going another direction? *shakes head*

    • Waethorn

      In reply to Bats:

      Only a few years ago, Microsoft was pushing MultiPoint Server. Good idea, but teachers and school IT deployers didn't get it, and thus, didn't want it. So Microsoft pushed it towards business use-case scenarios.

  25. Roger Ramjet

    Good reporting, but duh?!

    The market shares we see already reflect the results of the survey. And it will persist for sometime, the situation likely has its own momentum.

    As to whether "Microsoft has already lost", it has to be evaluated as to whether the network effects in Schools are so locked in that that momentum will continue carrying Chrome forward to greater market share - irrespective of whatever responses Microsoft might make, even good responses, sort of like in mobile.

    I dont think the the answer is "yes". Unless Google can make good on a unified Chrome/Android platform that is well received, I think a few months from now Win 10S on ARM plus a competitive Edge browser, obviates almost any disadvantage Microsoft has left to Google in K12, while retaining the advantages. We have seen share changes in US K12 before and there is nothing yet that says the current swing in favor of Google is permanent on a long cycle basis.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Roger Ramjet:

      I think it's simpler than you suggest. Do schools use and perceive the need for software which isn't available through the Windows Store. If schools do use/need such software, Windows 10 S hasn't got a prayer of changing the education computing market.

      Windows 10 S won't change the Windows Store's chicken-and-egg problem.

      Then there's maintenance cost. The article above isn't clear, but I'll throw out some figures based on pure guesswork: if MSFT maintenance systems cost 50% or more and/or take 50% or more time to use than Google's maintenance systems for Chromebooks, MSFT is WAY BEHIND, and even a surge in Windows Store apps wouldn't convert many districts.

      • Roger Ramjet

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        But W10S can (change the chicken and egg), in education at least, for partially some of the same reasons that Google is successful there; it is a distinct vertical market, the key software vendors are probably few, and the target consumers characteristics are clear, so it is much easier to offer a solution targeted at the challenge. I think Microsoft actually have at least as much software on offer than Google in this arena, I think the issue has been simplicity, rather than dearth of offerings a la Windows Store.

        Second, Microsoft addressed the issue of manageability and other perceived shortcomings at their event. I know maintenance is bigger than that, but the complaints haven't really being about maintenance, e.g. pcs break and cost more than chrome to fix, but manageability , initial cost, simplicity, user experience.

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to Roger Ramjet:

          If MSFT already has as much or more software on offer as Google for the US education market, why is it so far behind Google today? And why would Windows 10 S fix that?

          Re maintenance, from what I've read (I didn't watch the entire recorded event), MSFT didn't provide a direct comparison of its tools to Google's. I doubt MSFT allayed many people's misgivings about Windows maintenance.

          If Windows 10 S is great and there are tons & tons of new software in the Windows Store in a few months, MSFT will reconquer the education market.

  26. tbtalbot

    I think the same thing could have been said of the Apple ][. The Windows S version might have something because a comparable machine can do more compared to Chromebook whereas there isn't anything a Chromebook can uniquely do on its own - with simple config, a key Chromebook advantage of the past has gone away.

    The key to success in this market will be the software more than the hardware or even operating system. Google classroom has lots of rough edges though it is simple - that is the part that is needed for anyone to compete in the K-12 space.

    • chrisrut

      In reply to tbtalbot:I agree. Factor in the coming explosion of AI, and the chrome books may be just a crude first approximation of what even a K-12 device will become.
      Devices will play a much larger role - actually participating in the process of education - individually tailored real-time lesson planning - teaching - is on the event horizon.

  27. conan007

    So 28% share for PC, not exactly that bad, considering PCs are generally more expensive than Chromebooks. In terms of money PC may be as large as a market as Chromebooks.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to conan007:

      Article doesn't say, but those PCs could be quite old and running old Windows versions. And if those PCs were donated (not uncommon in my kids' schools a few years ago), they'd be much cheaper than Chromebooks.

      If MSFT wants a big presence in education, perhaps they should hold a lottery for school districts and GIVE AWAY 1,000,000 PCs for schools. Yes, I believe MSFT has to buy its way back to parity with Google in the US K-12 educational computing market, and it'll be expensive.

      • conan007

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        If you clicked the link to the report and it says the question was "Which of the following school-provided tools do educators and students use MOST FREQUENTLY for instructional purposes in your district or (if you are a teacher) in your classroom?"

        So it is about which device frequently used, not something getting dust. They could be old, but should we blame PC makers and MS having made their machines last longer?

  28. wolters

    I am glad you are talking about this because Daniel over at Windows Central seemed a little miffed at my comments about how the war for the school may lost. I came out of last weeks announcements feeling like of "Meh" about the education push and about Windows 10s. I am for sure now dogging it but I am just not excited about it and I don't think schools will. I personally know two IT Directors in two separate school districts and they barely paid attention to this announcement.

    Personally, I still don't "get" Chromebooks. I do have the Acer 14" Chromebook and for me, it still is just a browser. I can do the same and more on my Windows Device and not feel that I am "insecure."

  29. Brandon Mills

    They lost education a long time ago. The high end to Macs, and the low end to Chromebooks.

    I do see Windows 10 S laptops having potential, but we need to talk Edge. The entire MS strategy relies around Edge, and it's just not there yet. Furthermore, while it's certain that Google will not give 10 S any attention, that might not be said of Firefox or Opera. MS really needs to work more with third party browsers to ensure they can both get in store and become default options if the user desired.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Brandon Mills:

      Firefox is my main browser, in part because it works great under Windows and Linux, but mostly because I can customize it's layout how I want it, and with the proper add-ins, I can streamline much of what I do. I'll grant I'm in a tiny minority of Firefox users, but I make heavy use of Stylish, Greasemonkey, iMacros and fireform. Chrome isn't even close, Edge is years behind (if not eternally so).

      For me, UWP Firefox would have to support all signed add-ins.

    • Chris Lindloff

      In reply to Brandon Mills:

      "They lost education a long time ago. The high end to Macs, and the low end to Chromebooks."

      What k-12 schools are you talking about? I have kids in two private schools. I know parents with kids in public schools.

      All of them use a combination of either Google Apps/Email with all Windows computers or Google Apps/Email/Chromebooks for most with PC labs and possibly a PC or two in each class to run things like Photoshop (education version) and other PC apps that are simply not available to Chromebooks.

      Any Mac's and iPads are being phased out if there were ever an option. In the US it is Google>>>>Microsoft>>>>Apple. Outside the US Microsoft has a clear lead, something like 73% in education.

  30. dwcrider

    I have 2 daughters, one just graduated high school 2 years ago and all she knows is google docs, she has hardly any experience with any other office software. My younger daughter is 11 and is finishing 5th grade and will be going to middle school next year. She as well only knows google docs. During our recent tour of the middle school we were told she will need a chromebook for 6th grade. They specifically said to not get a Windows or Apple machine as they are harder for them to maintain and are generally more expensive for the kids to break or lose. So Chromebook it is.

  31. Polycrastinator

    Having worked in the EDU space, I think what Microsoft needs to focus on is High School specifically. That's where people start having more general computing needs, and it's where they're likely to be able to find someone to support those specific needs. Start at the top and work down.

  32. Mohammad Ismam Huda

    Not sure if this is the case in Australia

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