Microsoft continues its assault on Chromebooks with affordable PCs

Microsoft continues to attack the Chromebook market with new, upcoming Windows 10 PCs set for a reveal this week during the Bett Show 2018 convention. The starting price for this new batch will be a mere $189, perfect for schools and parents alike who need high-performance, mobile solutions for their students at an extremely affordable price. Even more, some of the notable features include touch-based input, Windows Ink support, and 3D content creation. 

“Affordability is the top priority for many schools,” the company said on Monday, January 22. “Shrinking budgets can lead schools to choose devices with a stripped-down experience and a limited lifespan, unfortunately costing more over time and offering less to students.” 

Here are the devices making their debut at the show: 

Manufacturer  Model  Style Hero
Starting
price
 
Lenovo 

100e 

Clamshell 

n/a 

$189 

Lenovo 

300e 

2-in-1 

Pen support 

$279 

JP 

Classmate Leap T303 

Clamshell 

Windows Hello 

$199 

JP 

Trigono V401 

2-in-1 

Pen and Touch 

$299 

 The laptops follow two models produced by HP for the education market: the ProBook x360 11 G1 EE for a starting price of $299, and the Stream 11 Pro G4 EE PC with a starting price of $225. They are “education edition” laptops sold through government-tethered resellers and agents in bulk for a lower per-unit price. They’re still made available to customers outside this group, such as parents, but for a higher price: $369 for the Stream 11 Pro G4 EE, and $499 for the ProBook x360 11 G1 EE. 

Microsoft’s big push against the Chromebook market started with the introduction of Windows 10 S in May 2017. It’s a “streamlined” version of Windows 10 that essentially locks all software installs, save for apps downloaded from the Microsoft Store. That means students can’t use third-party browsers and anti-virus solutions, nor can they venture deep into the heart of Windows 10 to make changes to the platform. Microsoft says it optimized the platform specifically for “security and performance.” 

But with a low price tag comes a list of low-level laptop hardware. Microsoft didn’t list a specific processor for the upcoming Lenovo 100e laptop, but hinted that it would rely on an older “Apollo Lake” Celeron processor launched in the fourth quarter of 2016. There are four in this specific family with two and four cores with a base speed starting at 1.1GHz.  Unfortunately, we don’t know the hardware specifics of this model or the other three making their debut this week. 

Along with the notebooks, Microsoft now provides free Professional Development to schools with the purchase of “certain” Microsoft 365 Education licenses. This free tool targets teachers to bring them up to speed with the new technology offered through Intune for Education, Microsoft 365 Education, and Windows 10. The company also announced a cool, free addition to Minecraft Education Edition this spring: the Chemistry Update. 

“Through hands-on experimentation, students can learn everything from building compounds to more difficult topics like stable isotopes,” the company said.

As for when the new laptops will hit retail shelves, Microsoft didn’t say. We may see more news regarding Lenovo’s models later this week.

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