Google has made major inroads in U.S. schools in recent years, and not just with its search engine. Chromebooks have achieved more than 50 percent of the market for new computers in the domestic K-12 market, giving the search giant a major beachhead in education technology.
Microsoft wants to turn the tide. The company is making a new bid for the attention of U.S. educators and students this morning with the announcement of a new device and app management service, Intune for Education. The company is also touting a lineup of inexpensive Windows 10 PCs for schools — challenging Chromebooks with starting prices below $300 and, in at least one case, below $200.
“These devices showcase the latest Windows 10 technology at prices competitive to Chromebooks, with the power, performance, and security educators, students and families can count on from Windows,” says Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft vice president, in a post this morning.
Intune for Education, an outgrowth of the company’s existing management service for businesses, lets teachers or IT administrators set up, configure and manage groups of Windows 10 machines — determining permissions, app access and other settings for each user, with the ability for those settings to follow users across different devices. Microsoft says InTune for Education also integrates with Microsoft services including Office 365 and School Data Sync, which automatically sets access based on which classes or school programs a student is taking.
Microsoft says Intune for Education will launch this spring for a one-time fee of $30/device, or via the company’s volume licensing program.
Windows 10 notebooks touted by the Redmond company this morning include the HP Stream 11 Pro G3 for Education, which starts at $189; and the HP ProBook x360 11 Education Edition, starting at $289, which includes a pen.
Other new devices include the Acer TravelMate Spin B118 convertible notebook, and the Lenovo ThinkPad 11e series. In addition, device distributor JP.IK is launching a new TURN T201 convertible Windows 10 PC designed for students between 12 and 18 years old.
Many of these PC makers, including Acer, Lenovo and HP, also make Chromebooks, effectively playing both sides of the fence.
Microsoft made the announcements at the large BETT education technology show, which is being held in London this week. Also at the event, the company is announcing an update for Minecraft: Education Edition, which was rolled out at the show last year.
Update, 7:30 a.m.: Google isn’t standing still. In its own announcement from the BETT show, the company unveiled new Chromebooks for schools from Acer and Asus, both of which come with a stylus for inking on the screen.
GeekWire contributor Frank Catalano contributed to this report.