More than 1 million Chromebooks sold to schools in second quarter of 2014

As parents and college students gird their loins and budgets ahead of back-to-school season, Google’s Chromebook laptops appear poised for a strong showing. Its sales have had strong momentum as we head toward the end of the summer and into the fall, particularly in the education arena.

In the second quarter, schools purchased more than 1 million Chromebooks, according to Google. On top of that, a recent report from market research firm NPD Group spotlights the strength of Chromebook commercial sales, which rose 250 percent year-over-year in the U.S. from January through May.

As Chromebook sales pick up the pace, NPD reports that Windows notebook sales were flat during the same period, while MacBook sales rose 20 percent. Microsoft appears ready to slash prices to compete with the Chromebook’s strong sales: A $199 Windows 8.1 laptop is reportedly set to hit the market this fall.

If you need more evidence that Microsoft is feeling the heat of the Chromebook’s increasing market share, take a look at its dedicated “Chromebooks vs. Windows laptops” page, which extols the productivity virtues of the latter.

“The next test for Chrome will clearly be the most difficult, as both Apple and Microsoft get more aggressive in pricing and deal making over the next few months,” according to Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis for NPD. “By the end of the third quarter we will have a much clearer picture of the long-term impact Chromebooks will have in the commercial channel.”

College students and their parents are expected to spend an average of $243.79 on laptops, desktop computers, netbooks, tablets, smartphones and other electronic devices this back-to-school season, according to the National Retail Federation. This reflects a 20 percent jump from last year’s $203.28 spend on this shopping category, and the highest figure since 2009.

Sales momentum aside, do Chromebooks make sense as a student’s day-to-day laptop? Read our back-to-school laptop buying guide to find out.