Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), aiming to take on Alphabet Inc.’s Google (GOOG) in the education market, announced a new Surface Laptop and Windows 10 S operating system geared toward graduating high school students.
During an event in New York City, Microsoft device head Panos Panay said that he heard from graduating high school students that they wanted a Surface laptop, so Microsoft built one. The new Surface Laptop boasts a 13.5-inch screen, weighs a mere 2.76 pounds and will come in burgundy, cobalt, platinum and gold. The Surface Laptop starts at $999 and is available for preorder as of Tuesday. The Surface Laptop is slated to start shipping by June 15. According to a report in the Seattle Times, Panay acknowledged a lot of students already use Apple Inc.’s (AAPL) MacBook Air or MacBook Pro, but said the new Surface Laptop is slimmer and has more power and battery life than either Apple laptop. (See also: Microsoft to Release Google Chromebook Rival in May.)
Competing With Chrome
Accompanying the new Surface Laptop is Microsoft’s new Windows 10 S operating system, which is streamlined for classroom use and it’s directly aimed at stealing market share from Google’s Chrome operating system, which powers bare-bones Chromebook laptops. The new OS only enables people to run applications that are downloaded from the Microsoft’s Windows Store.
Microsoft’s two product launches Tuesday are designed to maintain its ground in the education market and grab some share from the likes of Google and Apple. The aim with the Surface Laptop and the Windows 10 S OS is to create a device that is simple and secure, geared toward the education market—the same strategy Google pursued with the Chromebook. Google hit a home run with the Chromebook, which has found its way into schools around the country. (See also: Why Google Chromebooks Are a Hit in Schools.)
At the same time that Microsoft was readying its new push into the education market, Google has been busy adding more features to its device. For instance, users can now run Android apps on Chromebooks, and there is far more choice now that convertible and detachable versions of the Chromebook have entered the marketplace.
Microsoft’s move toward a cheap, bare-bones, cloud-based laptop comes at a time when the PC market around the globe is struggling. According to market research firm IDC, worldwide shipments of traditional PCs—desktops, notebooks and workstations—saw a slight uptick of just 0.6% during the first quarter, to 60.3 million units shipped, essentially flat from a year ago. This marks the first time since 2012 shipments actual rose in the first quarter.