Microsoft unveils Surface Laptop, lightweight OS at education-themed press event

microsoft press event surface notebook satya nadella
Microsoft’s press event held in New York City on Tuesday covered five specific areas targeting education: A new lightweight operating system, utilizing Microsoft Teams, programming in Minecraft, using mixed reality, and a high-powered Surface-branded notebook. Overall, the theme of the entire event focused on empowering students and teachers with the tools to make the learning environment more fun and absorbing.

microsoft windows 10 s laptops hp acer lenovo

Windows 10 S

We expected Microsoft would announce this platform, formerly known as Windows 10 Cloud, during Tuesday’s education-themed event. It’s a lightweight version of Windows 10 optimized for low-end hardware, enabling laptop makers to sell devices with starting prices of $189. That means Microsoft is targeting Google’s Chromebook dominance in the education sector. Similar to Chrome OS, Windows 10 S will be locked down, enabling students to grab apps solely from the Windows Store. However, third-party apps can be installed only if the platform is upgraded to Windows 10 Pro.

Solutions hitting the market based on Windows 10 S include the HP Probook x360 11 G1 EE, the Dell Latitude 11 3000 Series 3189, the Asus Vivobook W202, and the Acer Travel Mate Spin B1. Fujitsu, Samsung, and Toshiba have solutions in the works as well. Current devices in the classroom packing Windows 10 Pro can convert to Windows 10 S for free.

microsoft press event surface notebook teams

Microsoft Teams in classrooms

Microsoft Teams isn’t just for enterprise use — it’s a great collaboration tool for teachers and students too. Combined with OneNote Class Notebooks, teachers can distribute assignments, converse directly with students in and out of the classroom, and even communicate with parents and other staff members. Teams also provides the ability to integrate external resources such as guest speakers, and empowers students to express themselves without becoming offensive to others.

In addition to all the cool Microsoft Teams goodies, Microsoft Intune for Education is available now. Even more, Microsoft is offering Office 365 for Education with Microsoft Teams for free.

Code Builder for ‘Minecraft: Education Edition’

Available as a beta now, Code Builder connects Minecraft to the third-party ScratchX and Tynker coding platforms as well as Microsoft MakeCode. Inside Minecraft, players are joined by an “Agent” character that serves as a sidekick, which carries out the coding commands. This sidekick can essentially build anything in the virtual Minecraft world, from 3D printed objects to huge, historic architectures like the Globe Theater in 16th-century London and the Parthenon.

Along with Code Builder, Microsoft said that it will offer a free Minecraft: Education Edition subscription with the purchase of a qualifying Windows 10 “education” PC.

Mixed reality

This portion of the press event focused on bringing mixed reality capabilities into the classroom. For instance, students could create the solar system in Paint 3D, drop it into PowerPoint, and create transitions for an animated, 3D presentation. Students can also import 3D models into Microsoft Teams and integrate the scaled object into a live feed using any webcam. Pearson Education plans to integrate 3D and mixed reality into its 2018 curriculum that supports the Windows 10 mixed reality headsets.

Remember, mixed reality headsets supported by Windows 10 Creators Update will arrive this holiday season for a starting price of $299.

Surface Laptop

Finally, Microsoft waited to reveal new hardware until the end of the show. The Surface Laptop is now available for pre-order with a starting price of $999, and is powered by the new Windows 10 S platform. Shipping in Platinum, Burgundy, Cobalt Blue, and Graphite Gold, the laptop will sport a 13.5-inch PixelSense display, seventh-generation Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, and a battery capable of up to 14.5 hours on a single charge.

Unfortunately, customization is locked down to several different CPU/memory/storage configurations (two i5 models and two i7 models). Microsoft appears to be targeting Apple’s latest MacBook Pro lineup, sporting a thin and light form factor without sacrificing performance.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: heat-powered watches, phone cases with reflexes

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Computing

Microsoft is getting ready for a coming wave of foldable Windows 10 devices

Windows 10 might soon have a new look. A leaked string for an internal Windows 10 19H1 build shows that Microsoft is getting ready to build Windows 10 for a future wave of foldable devices.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Norsemen’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Computing

Every gaming laptop that was announced at CES 2019, ranked

Looking for a new gaming laptop? You're in luck, as we compiled and ranked all the gaming notebooks that were announced at CES this year. Be sure to take a look at the latest models with AMD or Nvidia chips before you buy.
Computing

Pinning websites to your taskbar is as easy as following these quick steps

Would you like to know how to pin a website to the taskbar in Windows 10 in order to use browser links like apps? Whichever browser you're using, it's easier than you might think. Here's how to get it done.
Computing

Stop your PC's vow of silence with these tips on how to fix audio problems

Sound problems got you down? Don't worry, with a few tweaks and tricks we'll get your sound card functioning as it should, and you listening to your favorite tunes and in-game audio in no time.
Computing

Chip off the auction block – Intel’s i9-9990XE may be sold to the highest bidder

Intel's alleged Core i9-9990XE may only be sold at auction to OEMs, meaning that only a few of the 14-core, 28-thread, 5GHz CPUs will ever see the light of day in specific devices and systems.
Computing

Yes, Android apps can run on your PC, and it's easier than you think

Wish you knew how to run Android apps in Windows? It's easier than you might think and there are a number of different ways to do it. In this guide, we break down the steps so you can follow along with ease.
Computing

Don't spend hundreds on Pro Tools or Logic. Try one of these free alternatives

Believe it or not, Pro Tools isn't the only digital audio workstation worth your time. Check out our picks for the best free recording software, whether you're looking for a lightweight app or a full-blown audio workstation.
Computing

How to share an external hard drive between Mac and Windows

Compatibility issues between Microsoft Windows and Apple MacOS may have diminished sharply over the years, but that doesn't mean they've completely disappeared. Here's how to make an external drive work between both operating systems.
Computing

Should you buy the affordable MacBook Air, or is the MacBook Pro worth the price?

Though they both share Retina Displays and similar keyboards, there are still some specs differences and other changes that differentiate the new 2018 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. In this guide, we stack the two up against each other.
Android

Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2019: Complete Coverage

There's no bigger show for mobile tech geeks than Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain: where flagship phones are born and intriguing new wearables shine. And this year, where foldable phones and 5G are likely to dominate the news. For…
Computing

Google is giving its G Suite web apps new touches of visual improvements

Your G Suite applications will soon have a different look. Several of the web apps are getting updated with subtle visual improvements inspired by Google's Material Design guidelines. 
Emerging Tech

CES 2019 recap: All the trends, products, and gadgets you missed

CES 2019 didn’t just give us a taste of the future, it offered a five-course meal. From 8K and Micro LED televisions to smart toilets, the show delivered with all the amazing gadgetry you could ask for. Here’s a look at all the big…