Surface Laptop and Microsoft's Renewed Educational Focus

 

Earlier today in New York City, Microsoft introduced several new products and services for education customers with a renewed focus on the companies ability to impact the education market.

Although some details of the hardware announcement for today, leaked images of the Surface Laptop, may have tried to dampen the enthusiasm of the official launch, much like the quick rain shower that doused us while waiting to get into the event, that did not change the usual dynamic and passionate story Microsoft's Panos Panay weaved as he officially unveiled the Surface Laptop.

However, prior to the new hardware announcement there were several software and services related announcements for education customers.

Windows 10 S

The key and primary difference between this new SKU and Windows 10 Home is apps can only be downloaded from the Windows Store. Otherwise, as told to me by a Microsoft representative today, Windows 10 S has all the same features as Windows 10 Home.

Any attempt to install a desktop software program will result in a prompt informing the user of the inability to install that program plus a recommendation for an app that is already in the Windows Store for that purpose.

Users will also be presented an option to upgrade the license for that device from Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Pro from the Windows Store. That in place upgrade through the Store will cost $50 and until 31 December it is free with the purchase of any Surface Laptop.

Office 365 for Education

Several free offers were made during today's keynote for students and educators.

-- Free one-year subscription to Minecraft: Education Edition for new Windows 10 education PCs
-- Free Windows 10 S for all schools on their current Windows Pro PC
-- Free Microsoft Office 365 for Education with Microsoft Teams
-- Free trial of Microsoft Intune for Education

Also later this year Office 365 will become available in the Windows Store including Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote.

Code Builder for Minecraft: Education Edition

The education edition of Minecraft has been giving student and teachers a unique learning environment for some time now and with the introduction of Code Builder for Minecraft, students can now learn real coding skills by combining Minecraft and then coding using a new open source platform from Microsoft called MakeCode.

The beta of Code Builder is available today.

Surface Laptop

The new hardware announced today by Microsoft is certainly not started towards elementary, middle school, or high school students.

However, college and university students will now have an alternative to pick from alongside the typical choices of a MacBook or MacBook Air for their school career.

Pre-orders of the Surface Laptop are now live and here is a break down of specs and pricing.

Note: The Core i5 variant of Surface Laptop will be available on 15 June and the i7 option will ship later this summer.

Common Specifications/Features

Four tone-on-tone color combinations and sleek, elegant design
Luxurious Alcantara fabric-covered keyboard
Ultra-thin and light laptop fits easily in your bag
Breeze through tasks with a 7th Gen Intel Core processor
Omnisonic Speakers provide Dolby Audio Premium sound
Designed for Windows 10 S
1 year of Office 365 Personal included
Free upgrade to Windows 10 Pro with purchase until 31 December 2017

Display

13.5 in PixelSense Display
Resolution: 2256 x 1504 (201 PPI)
Aspect ratio 3:2
3.4 million pixels
Surface Pen enabled
Touch: 10-point multi-touch
Corning Gorilla Glass

Processor/Memory/Storage/Graphics

7th Gen Intel Core i5 or i7
4GB, 8GB, or 16GB RAM
Solid state drive (SSD) options: 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB4
Intel HD 620 (i5)/Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 (i7)

Audio

Camera, video and audio
Windows Hello face sign-in camera
720p HD camera (front-facing)
Stereo microphones
Omnisonic speakers with Dolby Audio Premium
3.5mm headphone jack

Ports

USB 3.0
Headset jack
mini DisplayPort
3.5mm AV
SurfaceConnect
Compatible with Surface Dial off-screen interaction

Wireless

Wi-Fi: 802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless networking, IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n compatible
Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.0 LE

Battery

14.5 hours video playback

Dimensions

12.13" x 8.79" x .57" (308.02 mm x 223.20 mm x 14.47 mm)
2.76 lbs (1.25 kg)

Pricing

Intel Core i5/4GB RAM/128GB Storage - $999
Intel Core i5/8GB RAM/256GB Storage - $1,299
Intel Core i7/8GB RAM/256GB Storage - $1,599
Intel Core i7/16GB RAM/512GB Storage - $2,199

A 1 TB storage option will also be added to the lineup in the future.

As you can see the high middle to premium category is being met by Microsoft with Surface Laptop while their OEM partners will offer devices running Windows 10 S starting at $189.

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