Microsoft wants children around the world using its operating system and software packages to learn and get creative, and one way to encourage that is by making devices cheaper. So today, Microsoft announced a number of new Windows 10 devices that cost as little as $189.
The devices take the form of laptops and 2-in-1s offered by Lenovo and JP, one of Microsoft's largest hardware partners for emerging markets. Lenovo will offer the $189 device in the form of the e100 Windows 10 laptop complete with 11.6-inch display, Intel Celeron processor, 4GB of RAM, either 64GB or 128GB of storage, and 10 hour battery life. There will also be the Lenovo 300e 2-in-1 for $279 offering an 11.6-inch touchscreen and similar spec to the 100e.
JP will also offer two devices. The first is a $199 laptop called the Classmate Leap T303 with Windows Hello. The second is a $299 2-in-1 called the Trigono V401 and includes a pen as well as supporting standard touchscreen input.
In all cases these are devices meant for kids, meaning they can handle a drops and spills without breaking. Microsoft points to the HP Steam 11 Pro G4 EE PC ($225) and HP ProBook x360 11 EE 2-in-1 ($299) as catering to the same education sector.
Microsoft is also pushing its Microsoft 365 Education licenses, which allow access to Intune for Education and Office 365 for Education. If any school purchases at least 30 licenses this year they'll also qualify for free teacher training by a certified Microsoft training partner. However, Office 365 Education is offered for free in 146 countries and it is being updated to add more functionality.
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Microsoft will add Microsoft Learning Tools for improved reading, writing, and comprehension, OneNote Class Notebook will integrate assignment and grades information, as well as allowing teachers to lock pages as read only as well as offering access to the Desmos interactive math calculator. Powerpoint is being updated to allow teachers to record entire lessons so students can watch them later, and Teams has been rolled out to iOS and Android making it easy to keep track of learning and assignments regardless of the devices being used.
Other interesting new projects include Minecraft getting a "World of Chemistry" update to help promote Chemistry learning in schools by making objects including glow sticks, rapid grow fertilizer, and underwater torches in Minecraft. Microsoft is also hoping to get mixed reality into more classrooms now that Windows Mixed Reality immersive VR headsets can be bought for as little as $299.
Finally, Microsoft is working with the BBC to bring natural history programs to the classroom including Blue Planet content, and working with Lego to get kids building things using the Simple and Powered Machines set as well as better understanding 2D and 3D space using Lego bricks.
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