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New market research finds that while Google Chromebooks continue to be the mobile computing device of choice in U.S. schools, the competitive situation is reversed in the rest of the world, where Windows dominates.

U.K.-based Futuresource Consulting has released new numbers for the third quarter of 2017. When it comes to mobile computing devices (which Futuresource defines as notebooks/laptops, netbooks, tablets and Chromebooks), Windows has gained ground in the K-12 market outside of the U.S., accounting for 66.5 percent of all sales, up from 57.1 percent in the second quarter of the year. Google’s Chrome OS devices increased share outside the U.S. in Q3, but only slightly, at 7.7 percent.

Inside the U.S., the situation is flipped. Google’s Chrome OS devices were hovering just under the 60 percent mark in the third quarter of 2017, at 59.8 percent, up from 57.8 percent in Q2. Windows was at 22.3 percent in the third quarter, ticking up about four percentage points from Q2.

(Image: Futuresource Consulting)

Futuresource’s Mike Fisher commented that Microsoft has made “huge strides” in developing its education offerings in the past year. “Q3 2017 was the first time we saw and heard about a slight shifting of the competitive scenario in the U.S., with many OEMs and major channel players reporting faster growth (and expected growth) on Windows than Chrome-based devices,” Fisher said in a statement. “The challenge now for Microsoft will be how to accelerate this trend in 2018.”

Futuresource cited Microsoft’s success as being driven not just by its software, but also a large number of sub-$300 Windows-based devices that compete with low-priced Chromebooks.

For its part, Microsoft is crowing about the quarterly uptick, both in the U.S. and the rest of the world. In a blog post, Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft corporate vice president for the Windows and Devices Group, pointed to “large sales increases in markets like India and Argentina.”

Apple, a one-time leader in education, had an estimated third quarter sales share of 17 percent in the U.S. and approximately 7 percent in the rest of the world across iOS and Mac OS devices.

Chromebooks are very popular with school districts due to their low cost and ease of administration. However, a downside of their cloud-based operation was highlighted on Tuesday when an apparent flaw in a Google-provided update disconnected tens or hundreds of thousands of students from their WiFi networks for several hours.

Overall, Futuresource estimates growth in the mobile computing market in U.S. K-12 market will slow for all of 2017, ending up at 9 percent versus 19 percent for 2016. Part of the reason, the market research firm said, is the high mobile computing device penetration in schools is shifting a maturing market more toward a replacement, not first-time purchase, model.

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