Microsoft on Thursday announced new features coming in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update that are aimed specifically at students and educators.
“Today, Windows is the leading global platform for K-12 education,” Microsoft’s Terry Myerson said. “Our enduring goal is for Windows to be the best place to learn and the best platform for teaching.”
To that end, Microsoft will address some key education needs in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update: The length of time it takes to set up shared PCs and devices, the challenges that face teachers who have no tech support, and that many students still have limited access to often out-of-date technology in education.
Here’s what Microsoft announced today.
Set Up School PCs app
A new Set Up School PCs app in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update will enable teachers to set up Windows 10 PCs and devices quickly, easing one of the big issues with using PCs in a shared environment. The app uses a simple three-step process to help teachers—who are often their own tech support—set up a device in just minutes.
Related to this new app, Microsoft is making significant performance improvements in Windows 10 with the Anniversary Update that will in particular benefit low-end, low-cost machines. According to the software giant, the first student sign-in on a newly setup Windows 10 device will take just 26 seconds, and subsequent sign-ins will take just 6 seconds (with the same student on the same machine).
Updated Windows Imaging and Configuration Designer
For schools that do have IT infrastructure, Microsoft is updating its Windows Imaging and Configuration Designer tool for the Anniversary Update, adding the ability to set up shared PCs in bulk in a matter of minutes.
Take A Test app
A new Take A Test app for the Windows 10 Anniversary Update will allow teachers to create digital quizzes and standardized tests for a classroom or the whole school. It can be used for anything from quick, ad-hoc quizzes to locked-down testing environments for secure assessments of student knowledge.
Windows Update improvements
New Active Hour policies will ensure that Windows 10 PCs and devices only update outside of class times. This way, classrooms can stay up and running during the day without disruptions. But they will still be secure and up-to-date.
Windows Store for Education
In the Anniversary Update, the Windows Store will enable teachers to be able to bulk purchase and download apps, deploying them automatically to students.
New innovations that will work well in education
Some of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update features Microsoft has already announced could have a big impact in the classroom too, of course. Windows Ink “enables students to write on their device, create sticky notes, draw on a whiteboard, and merge their analog thoughts with their digital device.,” Microsoft notes. It’s also integrated into apps like Office and Microsoft Edge. And the Anniversary Update, Cortana can supply answers while the device is above lock, without requiring any log-in: Cortana is great for interactive learning and can answer questions on the fly.
Additionally, Microsoft points out that the Windows 10 ecosystem includes a wide range of inexpensive PCs and devices that can meet the needs of cash-strapped schools. So while this isn’t technically a Windows 10/Anniversary Update feature, it’s worth noting that you can purchase capable Windows 10 PCs for as little as $199. And that the Windows 10 upgrade is still free through the end of July.