Competition Scrambles To Combat Google's Education Dominance

Google's dominance of the education market forced its competitors, Microsoft and Apple, to step up its efforts in the education field. Microsoft, in particular, has recently launched Windows 10 S and the Surface laptop in an effort to combat Chromebooks' popularity in schools. Windows 10 S, a stripped-down version of Windows 10 intended for schools, is designed to counter Chrome OS by emulating the ease of management and security features offered by Google's browser-based OS. Among the major differences between Windows S and other versions of Windows 10 is that the computers powered by Windows S can only download applications from Windows Store, whether they are Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps or traditional programs, like the full versions of Microsoft Office suite, packaged using Microsoft's Project Centennial. To emulate Chrome OS' ease of management, Windows 10 S computers is managed by Intune, which is Microsoft's cloud-based device management system.

While the software is an important component of Microsoft's efforts to regain the top spot in the education market, it should be accompanied with competitive hardware in order to appeal to school administrators. On that front, Microsoft has partnered with manufacturers to produce hybrid tablet-laptop devices that can be sold for as little as $189, a price that is actually competitive with Chromebooks that normally sell starting at $149. Despite the low price, Microsoft ensured that the experience of using these devices will not be frustrating, with its executives claiming that the operating system installed in these devices boots rapidly. Aside from its partnership with manufacturers, Microsoft has also launched its own Surface laptop, which sports a relatively more mainstream design compared to Microsoft's other Surface products. Meanwhile, Apple, another player in the education field, has slashed the prices of its iPad products sold to schools, along with new features like enabling device sharing among students.

Google has dominated the education market due to low prices of Chromebooks and the straightforward setup and management of Chrome OS. Aside from the affordable hardware and its free OS, the Google education package, which already includes device management and support, is available for $30. The combination of these factors made Chromebooks the educator's choice, which is demonstrated by the 58% share Google currently holds of the US primary and secondary education market.

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