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With Windows 10 S and Surface Laptop, Microsoft takes aim at Google and Apple

For decades, Microsoft has dominated personal computing on the desktop in businesses and homes. Its closest rival was Apple, which for more than 30 years strove to reach a mere 10 percent of the PC space. With the advent of the smartphone, both Apple and Google were instrumental in shifting many personal computing tasks to a mobile and app-based platform.

As the dominant players in the smartphone space, this shift resulted in the positioning of Apple's and Google's broader ecosystems in front of millions of users.

Consequently, Apple's and Google's desktop alternatives to Microsoft's PC hegemony have been embraced by users. To Microsoft's dismay, many college students seem to prefer MacBooks over Windows laptops. And schools, particularly in the U.S., have increasingly adopted Chromebooks and the accompanying products and services Google provides.

To stop this progression into its personal computing space Microsoft is positioning the Surface Laptop for college students and the app-based Windows 10 S, along with affordable OEM laptops, for primary and secondary school-aged students. Will it work?

First strike, the Google advantage

Google has had great success in the U.S. education sector with Chromebook deployments and the implementation of Google for Education. Many IT professionals find that managing lightweight Chromebooks, which essentially employ a web-based OS, is far simpler than managing Windows-based devices.

School districts also find the associated costs of Chromebooks (often $149) are less than Windows laptops. Furthermore, because Chrome OS, (the OS on Chromebooks) is web-based, deploying updates, and protecting against viruses has also been a benefit of a Google environment.

Educators have the ability to easily manage multiple Chromebooks within the classroom, as well.

Many of these same benefits have been reasons a growing number of small businesses have embraced Chromebooks and Google's free web-based services. Gmail, Google Docs, Google Drive and other Google services are becoming more relevant tools in both schools and small businesses.

Google Expeditions, an implementation of the low-cost Google Cardboard VR option, has even been used to broaden student's experiences, as seen in the video below.

For Microsoft to adequately combat Google's strengthening position in the education sector it needed to address:

  • Hardware costs.
  • Device manageability.
  • System integrity (protection against viruses and malware).
  • Ease of deployment.

With Windows 10 S, a host of tools and OEM partnerships, Microsoft has created a comprehensive education solution that it hopes will be a sufficient to defer Google's thrust into the education sector.

Microsoft empire strikes back

Low-cost PCs have always existed. So resting the success of reclaiming ground lost in the education space only on reasonably priced hardware would not suffice. Microsoft needed a platform that low-cost hardware would run on and would also provide benefits in manageability, system integrity and ease of deployment. Windows 10 S, the app-based Windows OS that allows only Store apps (Win32 apps can be accessed via a $49 upgrade to Windows 10 Pro) is the company's offensive and defensive parry to Google's strategy to gain the next generation of users.

Hardware costs and OEM partners

Microsoft announced that this fall Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Samsung, Toshiba and Fujitsu will launch Windows 10 S devices starting at $189 (opens in new tab). This is a benefit to both schools and families. These affordable devices are comparable to what school districts would be paying (opens in new tab) for Chromebooks. Furthermore, families who like to provide their children with the tools they use in school may purchase these devices for home just as they have with Chromebooks.

Manageability

The ability to manage devices is essential to device maintenance as well as to how educators use them in classrooms. Windows chief Terry Myerson demonstrated that with the "Set Up My Schools PC" tool, a USB stick key could be used to configure a PC from any state in seconds. He reported that one school set up 600 PCs with 30 USB sticks in one day. The ability to set up devices with such a level of simplicity was a needed advancement for Microsoft to compete with Google and Chromebooks.

Set up a classroom in an hour.

Myerson also shared that Intune, Microsoft's enterprise-class management tool, has been customized for schools as Intune for Education. With Intune for Education, an administrator can manage the attributes of any device connected to the system. He could turn the camera off for all devices in a particular school for instance. Intune for Education has been made available to administrators worldwide.

The ability to manage devices with this degree of specificity over a broad range is another area in which Microsoft needed to compete with Google's education solution.

Intune for Education.

Logging into devices could hamper productivity and efficiency within a classroom. Myerson demonstrated that a student could log into a device for the first time in 15 seconds and each subsequent login to the system would take just five seconds. This should help Microsoft's solution better compete with Google's.

Finally, Myerson shared that because Windows S runs only secure Store apps, Windows 10 S PCs will have the same performance on the last day as they do on the first. This improved device integrity and security is another area that makes Microsoft's solution a better competitor to Google's. Microsoft has made Windows 10 S free for all schools that are currently using genuine Windows Pro.

Best in class

Microsoft also introduced solutions that improve collaboration and enhance the learning experience.

Office 365 for Education, and Teams

Microsoft Office for Education and Microsoft Teams are meant to enable modern classroom collaboration, content creation, personalized learning and encourage creativity. Google's collaborative tools have been a strong point for the company's education play. Microsoft may have introduced a viable alternative.

Mixed Reality

Mixed Reality is considered by many to be the next paradigm shift in personal computing. Microsoft's HoloLens creator and futurist Alex Kipman declared the smartphone dead in anticipation of a coming mixed reality device that will do away with many of our screens.

As a leader in mixed reality Microsoft provides a platform for many VR devices. Microsoft also created HoloLens, a tetherless, wearable Windows 10 computer that superimposes holograms in the wearer's field of view.

See more

Microsoft has positioned Hololens in various industries including the U.S. military and NASA. The company's now bringing that technology to schools to help students learn by experiencing interactive content via mixed reality opposed to only reading it in a book.

Inking and Edge

Windows Ink allows users to write directly on the screen and in various apps. The Edge Browser also takes advantage of this feature. Students can save tabs that they've used for research and write notes directly on those pages, and then share them. This natural way of interacting with technology is an edge Microsoft has over Google's solution.

Myerson said that Microsoft's education solution was inspired by students, runs rich applications, is easy to manage and setup, and that Windows S devices have the same performance on the last day as on the first. Will this be enough to stop Google's assimilation of the education sector? Time will tell.

Students love Windows Ink.

Surface Laptop

Microsoft also addressed college students as a strike against Apple. Whereas Google has assimilated school systems and made headway with low-end Chromebooks, Apple has appealed to college students with the MacBook. As a thin, light, and attractively designed device with good power consumption, the MacBook is an attractive laptop for students.

Microsoft claims the Surface Laptop strikes the best balance between all the features users look for in a laptop.

Besides the specs, the Surface brand may make the Surface Laptop an appealing option. Microsoft's Surface team, led by Devices Chief Panos Panay, has succeeded in building an industry-respected brand around the Surface. Quality, design and category creation are its hallmarks.

Though the Surface Laptop forgoes the detachable display common to the Surface and Surface Book, Panay says the Surface Laptop, running Windows 10 S, is resetting the laptop category.

Inspiring a new class of laptops

As an aspirational device, we can expect OEM partners to build similar devices to this $999 Surface that will also target college students. As a range of laptops that will certainly come with an equally varied price range, Microsoft is hoping the Surface Laptop and inspired OEM devices will appeal to MacBook owners, just as the Surface Studio has done with Apple's creatives.

Furthermore, given the tepid reception of the touch strip-enhanced MacBooks Apple introduced earlier this year, the Surface Laptop with its touch screen and attractive design may appeal to disappointed MacBook users. Inking, mixed reality and 3D Paint may also make the Surface Laptop and future Windows 10 S options more appealing to MacBook users.

One downside is that some users may find the app-focused nature of Windows S limiting even with a full Universal Windows Platform (UWP) version of Office. The prompt to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro for $49 may be off-putting to some who may not have been aware of the new OS's limits.

All said, Microsoft has gone on the offensive to defend its position in education and on the desktop. But will all of this be enough? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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Jason L Ward is a columnist at Windows Central. He provides unique big picture analysis of the complex world of Microsoft. Jason takes the small clues and gives you an insightful big picture perspective through storytelling that you won't find *anywhere* else. Seriously, this dude thinks outside the box. Follow him on Twitter at @JLTechWord. He's doing the "write" thing!

56 Comments
  • Thanks for reading folks! Microsoft's global position in education is still very strong, but if the progress Google has made in the US is any indication of what may be coming globally Microsoft certainly has a reason to worry. The cost, manageability, deployment and security advantages of Chromebooks and Google for Education re impossible and would be foolish to ignore. Windows 10 S and low-cost Windows 10 S laptops and the advancements in Microsoft for education across the board from administrative aspects such as deployment and device management to in class learning experiences such as the Google Cardboard alternative, HoloLens and Mixed Reality and Code Builder to Minecraft for education. Collaborative tools like Office 365 and Microsoft Teams were another needed advancement. The Surface Laptop as a device aimed at the college aged demographic I think was a great play as it positions a strike against Apple's Macbook advantage here. As an aspirational first-party device OEMs will likely repond just as HP, Samsung , Toshiba and others have on the low-end with Window 10 S devices. I think Microsoft has made a comprehensive play here, but will it be enough....LET'S TALK!!! Also if you have not read the piece, to be sure that your comment is an intelligent response to the content and that you represent yourself well, please read the piece first before commenting. :-)
  •  good article. My pov if Microsoft will not engage mobile as a started focus they will lose the game being only a matter of time....all other efforts will be in vain. They lost the market share in PC and tablets due to the death on mobile...i am wondering about the Microsoft leadership, are they all deaf or blind?
  • I myself was thinking about this strategy by Microsoft a couple of days back. This strategy not only applies just for the Windows 10 S, but hardware and software strategy as a whole too, wherein the Surface hardware competes with Apple's and Windows productivity is emulating Google's.
  • Jason, #1 your Microsoft future is too rosy. As an educator in the thick of things, I can see the writing on the wall for Windows 10 S. Yes, the "more mature" teachers are steeped in Windows, Office and printing, but, they also aren't the ones that will be driving app demand. For them there is no measurable benefit to Windows 10 S. And, the ones driving app demand will also be the ones avoiding Office and printing like the plague, so, for them too Windows 10 S won't offer major benefits! Unless you're inside education, it's really hard to appreciate just HOW MUCH OF A HEADSTART GOOGLE HAS AMASSED IN FIVE YEARS and how it came from nowhere. In a little over five years I've seen Google Docs go from a curiosity that only I used to the focus of our everyday teaching practice. Even techno luddites are getting into the Google ecosystem. And, crucially for Microsoft, we haven't gone whole hog into ChromeBooks. We are still a predominately Windows 7 shop, running on off-lease hardware (our district has around 100 000 computers). But, for 90% of tasks, the reason we run Windows on off-lease hardware is so we can run Google Chrome. All our Windows desktops are are glorified ChromeBooks. You could argue that the continued use of Windows on off-lease hardware in the face of a Google onslaught gives Microsoft hope, but, I don't think so. We're now so steeped in Google's ecosystem that it's next to impossible to turn back. At every turn our district promotes Google services--through Windows! #2 Windows RT. Windows S is being describe as crippled Windows in everything but the Microsoft marketing literature. It's the poor cousin of real Windows. Why use Windows Lite with no applications worth mentioning when you can have the "real deal"? Google's ChromeBooks are selling in education because first they're super simple to use and they're cheap, but they're a rip-roaring success because the access they give is PLATFORM independent. Kids can use the services accessed on a ChromeBook in any operating system. They aren't locked into Microsoft, and, given that 99.9% of kids are not primarily Windows users that's a major benefit. So many of the technologies that are bought in large quantities in education end up in the dust bin of history (laser discs, anyone). ChromeBooks are an exception to that rule because it's the kids that are driving their success, not the bean counters. If you get UWP/Windows Store lock-in on a school laptop/desktop the kids are going to give up on their school devices. Yeah, they'll use them when their teachers force them to but when they leave the classroom they'll go back to Android, iOS and macOS where UWP/Windows Store won't exists. Guess what'll happen at that point. They're not going to figure out how to get a UWP/Windows Store-compatible device of their own, they'll figure out how to make their UWP/Windows Store school computer work with their Android/iOS/macOS device! Which'll leave educators frustrated and clamoring for Google Chrome on a Windows 10 desktop, not a Windows 10 S Google Chrome-free crippled device. Unless UWP/Windows Store gets access Google products and services, Windows 10 S is going to be a hard sell to anything but the occasional educational bean counter or Microsoft-obsessed, aged educational IT decision maker. Until Microsoft eliminates that cross-platform barrier with its UWP apps it's not going to go head-to-head with Google or Apple. UWP/Windows Store is a desert. I look at the apps there and they do NOTHING. There's not one flagship 3rd party app in it. Either bring UWP to other platforms or bring Google to UWP. The 3rd party flag-ship app that would get people to actually switch to Windows 10 S/UWP/Windows Store is not going to show up, unless UWP/WIndows Store becomes a rip-roaring success. Google is going to deny UWP/Windows Store Chrome as long as possible because that is the one 3rd party flag-ship app that would make the store a success. What would allow the UWP/Windows Store to flourish is if Microsoft were able to bring UWP/Windows Store to Android and/or iOS devices. That may be doable on Android. iOS is a different story.
  • Hi Ed its not entirely my future vision, it's Microsoft's. I presented what they brought to the table as an offensive and default move to Google and Apple and was clear throughout to ask was it enough. As a Special Education advocate and tutor though I don't have the intensive experience you have in the schools I'm pretty cognizant of the impact Google is having in the US school systems which is far less than other countries of course. Thanks for the additional insights you add to the discourse.🙂
  • Don't get me wrong. A vibrant Microsoft is a good thing for the competitive landscape. iOS and Android are going no where fast and the fact that Microsoft has been usurped as the king of computing is fantastic for us end users. I'm a dyed in the wool Mac user who's been using Windows exclusively for the past few years--not because I dislike what Apple was doing or becoming, but, because Microsoft was good enough. After decades of shocking mediocrity (for an "industry leader") Microsoft was forced to finally improve the quality of their OS because Apple was so much better at offering an "it just works" computing experience. And, while I say that Google's Chrome is THE third party app that would drive UWP/WIndows Store's success, I think it's better for the health of the computing landscape in the long run if UWP/Windows Store grows in the absence of Google's services; an absence caused not because Microsoft excludes the services but because Google strategically denies them from the store. Of course, if the Windows Store grows large enough Google will enter the fray anyway, just like it was forced to with iOS. Being relegated to irrelevant in the most disruptive computing shift in the past 20 years has forced Microsoft to do something they're not known for--innovate. While it's easy to mock their misses and their lack of leadership, some of what they're doing may bear fruit. Windows 10 has become fairly stable. It's still not as refined, stable and polished as macOS, but, it is finally better than Windows 7 and it's lightyears ahead of the various DE on Linux. Microsoft missed the mobile boat in a stunning way and is sitting on piles of cash that it earned from their desktop days. Now they're having to use some of that cash to remain relevant in the computing landscape that Google and Apple have taken control of. That's good for us end users.
  • So true. I think, Microsoft's neglection of the mobile market is going to disturb the success of Windows 10 S. They made a good step into the market, maybe not as good as they wanted, but people used it. People who had already predecessors of UWP apps. But Microsoft made those few poeple go back to iOS or Android. People like to use things they are know about. Why on earth would some Android user use an UWP app? Beside for developers it's not too easy to migrate to UWP apps. That's why there are mostly Windows (phone) 8/8.1 apps in the store. Nobody cares about updating. Even Microsoft disrespects their own platform by giving features first to Android. So why should I be faster than Microsoft supporting their platform? They have to rebuild a lot of trust in their ecosystem, which will take years. I guess it would take so long, Microsoft abandons it somehow before they do. So my point is, UWP on mobiles is an important key for success for UWP on desktop and so Windows 10 S. There is no need for UWP apps on a platform you get much better WPF/Win32/whatever apps. XBox does not count, since it's basically for games, HoloLens does not count, since it's still far away from mainstream, Surface Hub does not count, nobody has one at home, and you don't use it personally in the school, if they have one. So without mobile, UWP right now is DWP - Desktop Windows Platform - practically. But I don't think they have to bring UWP to Android/iOS. I doubt people will use this - at least I would not. I would rather switch to Google completely.
  • Like many people, I'm not using Chrome browser but I still use Google services and I'm not screaming in agony. You say Win10S is crippled due to lack of apps, but apart from Google services, where are the chrome apps? Android apps in their current state don't count for desktop. Google themselves have signalled the future for chromebook. With android apps on desktop there will eventually be no place for Chrome apps. So the already small number of chrome developers will be going elsewhere and the chrome store will stagnate. Best not to be too wedded to chrome. Your win7 management setup is either high maintenance or highly customised. Either way there would be clear device management benefits for moving to win10s. It makes me wonder why straight chromebook wasn't suitable for you - at present you can't take advantage of existing uwp apps or future android desktop apps.  
  • wpbazaar, thank you for taking the time to bring a fresh perspective to the discussion. I'd like to clarify a few points that I've made (since I've made a lot of them :). #1 It's not Chrome apps that make Chrome so attractive, it's that (i) it's the browser that sites are written for, (ii) it runs complex sites reasonably well, (iii) it runs NaCl, a way to run C/C++ natively in a web browser, (iv) it performs reasonably well on any desktop OS and any architecture that it's compiled for, and (v) it is open source so can be re-compiled and re-used for any operating system or architecture. At this stage, Edge is simply a less capable browser than Chrome for things more complicated than browsing. It also supports only one OS and one architecture (though, in theory it can be recompiled to other architectures) and will never be released on another operating system or as open source. #2 Thanks for forcing me to think about Android apps. Bringing Android apps to a desktop format is a shrewd power-play by Google to eat into Microsoft's desktop dominance and to open a new market which no one really occupies and that Microsoft would love to capture, the touch desktop. Microsoft's efforts to fend off Google's power-play are not bold enough IMNSHO. Google is in a position of strength. Through Android it has a rich ecosystem of touch-based apps, including most of the must-haves that Windows Store is missing or are poorly implemented on UWP/Windows Store. Through both Chrome and Chrome OS it has a major presence on the majority of the world's desktops. The fact that GOOGLE Chrome runs on so many people's desktops is what makes Google a surprisingly powerful underdog in this fight with Microsoft (yes, I called Google the underdog<laugh>). Now, through the Chrome-based Android run time, Android developers are also gaining much needed real, live experience in bringing touch to a desktop paradigm. This is something Microsoft cannot offer its developers. Yes, it has a huge desktop presence, but, it is almost entirely absent from the world of touch. Sure, there are lots of touch-enabled laptops and "tablets", but, touch on these devices can safely be described as little more than a hybrid mouse-trackpad experience. It's nothing like how iOS and Android operate--and, those two OSes really take advantage of touch. #3 Android is a threat to UWP/Windows Store on Windows 10 It won't be hard to bring Android apps to Windows at near native speeds. The Android run time technology exists within Chrome OS/Chrome and allows it to run .apk apps with very little performance penalty and there's no reason that that can't be spun off. This technology is also open source which means Google, someone else, or even Microsoft could choose to bring it to Windows 10 if/when touch-infused-desktop app development proves to be viable. Bringing .apk executables to Windows would put an end to UWP/Windows Store. Why develop for Android and UWP/Windows Store when you can develop once for the world's second-largest app store and still target the Windows 10 market? Yes, people will likely have to run Windows 10 Pro (or Home if Microsoft allows it to exist), but, for the foreseeable future Win32 is not going anywhere fast!
  • wpbazaar, a few more points not related to my other post to you. #1 Personal comment. Unlike the majority of the world's Windows 10 users you don't run GOOGLE Chrome :) (though, you don't mention what you do run if you are on Windows 10... probability suggests that it's FireFox, another non-Microsoft browser :) #2 Windows 7/10 and education Yes, we have a well supported Windows 7 shop and will complete the migration to Windows 10 by 2019, partly through attrition of Windows 7 machines, partly by reformatting to Windows 10. Windows 10 S won't add to our management because we already have a mature desktop management system in place. As for the purported benefit of putting a USB in a computer and re-imaging it to Windows 10 S quickly. With Windows 10 Enterprise it takes a little over 40 minutes for a 40 GB image (including Office and a plethora of other applications like Read-and-Write Gold text-to-speech softare, Adobe photo and video editing, etc.) to be written to our computers. You only set up a computer once so it's not like 20 minutes vs. 40 minutes is a major difference. Plus, when you get new hardware, they don't install the OS separately through the computer's USB each time. They use bulk HDD copy programs to copy the image onto multiple HDDs at the same time and then drop these HDDs in the desktops and laptops before they go out to schools. It takes a minute for an efficient tech to install an HDD into a computer. How long it takes to write the image to an HDD doesn't matter in our case. Plus, Windows 10 S would cause no end of headaches because... A. It doesn't run Chrome, and, unless Edge makes some dramatic leaps in usability between now and when hell freezes over, Edge won't be enough to properly run Google's services anyway; B. UWP/Windows Store is barren. There's nothing there; C. At the moment, iOS and Android apps don't run on UWP so see complaint B. D. UWP/Windows Store doesn't run the Win32 packages that schools and districts already own site licenses for. Legacy software is a huge piece. Schools spend thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars/euros/whatevers on software licenses. They're not going to look kindly at losing the ability to run that very expensive software if they're now also having to shell out for software that only works on Windows 10 S. #3 ChromeBooks. A. There are still some specialized tasks that we used desktops for. Photoshop. Video editing. Programming in IDEs. ChromeBooks are great for applications that don't require moving large quantities of data. B. They're also not robust enough for many usage scenarios at the right price point. We can get off-lease hardware (i.e. cheap) with decent screen sizes which is quite fast for less than we can get an 11" ChromeBook. C. ChromeBooks are coming. Some teachers hang on to their Windows-centric view of the world because they see computer access by students as consisting of a student typing something in Word, saving it and printing it. To them ChromeBooks are synonymous with iPads, purely media consumption devices. That said, I've seen jaded, conservative teachers embrace ChromeBooks and now request that their Windows desktops be replaced by--shock of all shocks--ChromeBooks. Disclosure: I'll be amongst the last to ever request that my high powered Windows 10 desktops be replaced by high powered Chrome OS devices, but, I would be the first to adopt a scorched earth, take no prisoners campaign if someone were to try to force Windows 10 S onto my work computers. #4 Education and Microsoft I'm in the thick of it. I try out technologies and sometimes train other educators on them. As far as I'm aware, I'm the only person in my district to purse and offer training on OneDrive's Word, PowerPoint, and Excel apps. Google wasn't particularly big yet at the time, but, after that experience, let's just say that no one, and I really mean no one (myself included), pursued the apps. They were quite good, and, I still occasionally use them to this day, but, they were little more than lite, web-based versions of the desktop applications. There was no value added when they were brought on-line. Google, by comparison, understood the potential that on-line offered in terms of collaboration and ran with it. Now, let me clarify, my district is and was heavily Microsoft. Microsoft practically gave us their software for free. Apple users found it and continue to find it difficult to do much that requires network access. Microsoft worked hard to keep us as an Outlook client, but, by teacher demand, they lost. Teachers wanted GMail. Aside from the Windows OS and Microsoft Office, the hundreds of thousands of students and tens of thousands of staff are now a Google shop (and, the change happened very quickly). GMail for e-mail and Google Apps for Education (or whatever it's been rebranded to) for collaboration. Microsoft Office is taught and used, but, its role is becoming unclear and, aside from luddites like me, the benefits of the over-kill of PowerPoint and Word are becoming less and less obvious. With older, non-tech savvy teachers students still use Word and PowerPoint. But, for more tech savvy teachers students, by default, go to Google Docs and Slides (this switch in behaviour has happened in the past year).
  • "Bring Google to UWP".  As if Microsoft has any control over that.
  • I just happened to re-read your first line: "Microsoft's global position in education is still very strong, but if the progress Google has made in the US is any indication of what may be coming globally Microsoft certainly has a reason to worry." Microsoft's position in education is not as a software or services provider but as an infrastructure provider; operating system, networking and authorization servers. Other than that, they're almost invisible. Even Microsoft Office is losing its charm. Collaboration is key to desirable educational outcomes and Office doesn't do collaboration (technically it does, but, in my 20 years of using Office on Windows I've never experienced anyone using those features). Yes, their on-line OneDrive Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps might do collaboration, but, I wouldn't know how to because I've NEVER worked with another person who used the on-line Word, PowerPoint and Excel apps. Because it's the infrastructure, Microsoft is replacable. In the last few years Google has become the reason teachers and students use computers in the classroom. Microsoft gives teachers and students access to Google. That's it. While Google may have made the biggest in-roads in North America, it's got great growth potential wherever there is a good internet infrastructure. Google's barrier now is the same as Apple's in the 1990's. The IT guys know Microsoft operating systems. It's also job security. In the 1980's and early 1990's Macs freed up IT resources to redirect $$$$ to end users. This was a direct threat to the existence of many IT support positions. Google is in a similar position now. Its simplicity is a direct threat to the current crop of Microsoft-specialists that organizations, large and small, employ. Their expertise is Microsoft and their bread-and-butter comes from Microsoft. Google has demonstrated that it can challenge Windows (& Mac) in the US and Canada, two of the richest countries on the face of the planet. Provided the internet infrastructure exists, Google can do the same in places which aren't quite so flush with cash. I really don't see Windows 10 S becoming a rip-roaring success in education. While I do full expect and accept that UWP/Windows Store is the future of Windows, it's not going to be the saviour of Microsoft in education.
  • Microsoft must start paying attention to their existing long term customers while they also plan for the future. Windows used to have the market for a very good reason. The general population was not deep into computers YET. The problem is that people as individuals are intelligent and thoughtful. As a herd they are very easily influenced by scam type marketing (at first). But over time the tend to come to their senses, and hopefully when they do there will still be some reliable products around. Sadly it doesn't always work out that way in this greedy world. Beta vs VHS as one example, VHS was a tile pile of junk but they had more talking heads marketing for them so Beta didn't survive. Windows has always given the user more control and less of a commercialized "Buy It Now Only from OUR App Store" mentality than mac/ios and android/google. But the problem is that the talking heads have swayed the NEW Generation masses into thinking that they don't want or need that control, they just need a popular trendy fashion statement instead. So here's the problem, Microsoft in their attempt to survive has begun trying to compete in the trendy fashion statement world and while doing so has begun to abandon their core users needs and wants, eventually the masses will realize they don't really want fashion over control, but by the time they realize that the old core will be gone. Because Microsoft is abandoning their core users it is forcing the serious ones to abandon trendy everything and swap to Linux completely and the others will join the iPeople or the Chromedomes. My recommendations are as follows: 1) Reconnect with your core users for Desktops, Tablets and MOBILE PHONES. We will be your best source of Advertisement. 2) Work HARD at overcoming the negative publicity generated by paid internet trolls that everyone in Big Business uses these days to knock their competition down a few pegs. 3) Work even HARDER at getting Devs on board to develop apps for EVERYTHING. 4) Never let a 3rd party company "Nerf" your product with BLOATWARE ever again. Allowing Bloatware to be deeply integrated into Windows is one of the main offenders in the poor reputation of laggy versions of Windows. You must preserve your reputation. 5) Don't be like Apple or Google, find out what it is about them that is Lame and address that, sure you have to fill the basic needs of the people, but do so while keeping your current customers happy too. I think Microsoft is still in the game, but don't lose what made Microsoft great to begin with. Be smart, patient and above all don't adopt the arrogant iPersonality. And I also think Microsoft should start focusing on other markets outside the US, get into places like Latin, Central and South America. Theres a great platform there to boost Microsoft while helping those who actually would be greatful.
  • Don N1, interesting perspective, and, I agree with some of what you wrote. Particularly the piece about "the general population was not deep into computers YET". However, I must take aim at "Windows has always given the user more control and less of a commercialized "Buy It Now Only from OUR App Store" mentality than mac/ios and android/google". I'm not sure about your vintage, but, I'd nearly say you're younger than I am (early 40's) because you don't indicate much of an appreciation of the software market in the 80's and 90's. Windows, and, its predecessor DOS, gave that illusion, but, in practice Macs gave their users as much, if not greater freedom. For example, in the late 80's and early 90's Mac users typically used double, if not triple the number of applications that DOS and early Windows users did. Macs were simply light years ahead in terms of usability than DOS/Windows 2.x/3.x/OS/2 that they actually allowed people to use their computers as tools rather than to be tools for the use of computer. The simple power of the Macintosh and simple design of the programs also meant that piracy was more of a problem on Macs ;P. As for "my way or the high way", I've never found a major difference between Windows and Mac since I've become aware of and an expert in Windows (Windows 98 SE was my first real taste with becoming a Windows "expert" after well over a decade on Macs). Windows gave and gives the illusion of control, but, it is nothing more than a facade. Changing your colours and fonts isn't giving people meaningful control over their computer. The only meaningful control comes from being able to use the computer as a tool, and, until the mid-2000's, Apple had always stayed ahead of Microsoft by building and nurturing an ecosystem that encouraged developers to put users first. When Apple lost sight of that basic fact in the mid 90's and stopped innovating and encouraged a clone market to grow, that's when Microsoft was able to start catching up. With the rise of Windows 2000 and XP Microsoft made great strides towards bringing the Windows ecosystem on an equal footing with Macs and brought a more user-first approach to application design. But, even now that I know Windows inside and out, I still find that there is a control that Mac OS X (now macOS) offers that Windows doesn't. As a Unix Mac OS X was a well documented, public operating system with predictable behaviors. Windows, OTOH is not a well documented OS, nor is it public. It is entirely closed. As for the rise of the iOS App Store, please don't conflate Mac with iOS. They are different operating systems with profoundly different modes of operation. I understand the whole closed nature of an app store. It makes sense, and is a sound security strategy in a world where hackers intentionally target people's personal information for extortion, profit, damage or even just kicks.
  • @Don N1 Grumble. Your neat paragraphs disappeared when I reloaded the page. Some more comments, distinct from my other response: Don: My recommendations are as follows:
    Don: 3) Work even HARDER at getting Devs on board to develop apps for EVERYTHING. Operating systems are like a Field of Dreams (am I betraying my age :). Build it and they will come. If it's worthwhile and if there's money to be made developers will flock to you. iOS was first out of the black and everyone and anyone who's someone got their applications into the app store. Developers fall over themselves to be the first, second and third place, even twentieth place in the App Store. Android, for a long time suffered from distant second tier status. Google Play is slowly catching up, but, even now it's easier for obscure developers to make more money on Google Play than on iOS because there's less competition. That's not a good thing for Android. When I look at UWP/Windows Store I see the same thing going on as in BlackBerry's PlayBook store just before BlackBerry officially killed the whole tablet project. There were a few good apps in there that were unique, but, anything anyone wanted (e.g. 3rd party voice or video apps, social media apps, etc.) was not there. You had to make do with third party efforts to access web site APIs or wrappers for web pages. Eventually BlackBerry added the ability to run .apks but by that point it was too late. I see the same thing going on UWP/Windows Store. Obscure developers see a hole left by the professional developers and their apps are front and center in the Windows Store. For example, there is not one browser. No project (and, there are many... Vivaldi, Opera, Chrome, Chromium, FireFox, SeaMonkey, etc) has taken the time to build a UWP/Windows Store browser. When I search for web browser in the store all I get is "Get Opera browser" so you can download a Win32 version of Opera :) or a bunch of wrappers for Edge (how hard is it to write a wrapper).  
  • great article jason. I have a few points to make.
    Firstly, being a student going to start his MBA soon, I do look at the surface laptop as a device for me, fits my use, more importantly though.. Windows 10s provides me with all the feature3s I need as the apps I use most are already in the store.. and I can upgrade to pro at any time by paying the premium.
    Secondly, as far as Microsoft in education goes, i'm from India, where smart schools using such technology are few and far between. Chromebooks are virtually non existent and macs are way too expensive for school kids to buy. Here, MS has an amazing opportunity to push windows 10s among low end machines from local brands such as iball and micromax which sell for as little as $130. I think MS needs to focus more on these developing markets because in India alone, even with lower literacy levels and school attendance than the USA, the number of students is still more than double of that of the USA and it would be foolhardy not to introduce connected technology and secure machines across numerous private and public schools.
    Finally, I do think MS has a comprehensive strategy here, if they were to introduce windows 10s as the entry level into the windows ecosystem, a lot more developers would be willing to bring their programmes and apps to the windows store as the store becomes the only hub to download items securely but it would be interesting to see how the windows 10s hardware ecosystem develops amongst partner OEM's as the surface laptop should be see as a premium benchmark to showcase the this version of windows.
  • U hit the nail on the head bro... Even in Nigeria and rest of Africa, MS has an advantage over google and apple. MS is slacking, the future still potable devices, mobile is becoming boring and does little. MS should understand there are profitable markets outside USA.
  • Re: "profitable" markets. That's a subjective assessment. The GDP of the province of Quebec in Canada is about on par with that of Nigeria, so, despite the vastly greater population size, profitability is an illusion. Yes, in terms of growth potential, Nigeria dwarfs that of Quebec, but, the computer industry is not built on 25 year plays. Yahoo was the search engine of the 90's. Remember AOL? BlackBerry? Granted, these are North America-centric companies, but, they were the giants of their day. Where are they now? PS I would love to return to Nigeria some day. It has been far too many decades since I last set foot south of the Mediterranean (I spent the first decade of my life in Kaduna, Nigeria... before all the sad troubles).
  • On point, in South Africa we have 2 schooling segments, government schools and private. Private schools are monied however I just saw something interesting with government schools, high school learners are issued with windows10 tablets, 2 in 1. A step in the right direction. Right now what's missing is to introduce teams and intune because I doubt they have a central system for collaboration or device management. What Microsoft should do is solidify their hold in education here by introducing these software solutions. No body here knows Chrome OS
  • I work for the Belgian education system and we are a partner to promote Office 365 to all the schools and students. Chromebooks are almost unseen here at this moment. I also think Microsoft has way better tools for productivity and edcucation than Google does. But I am not happy about the store programs only thing. This will severly hinder adoption of this. I don't think we will promote Windows S but full Windows 10 instead. UWP has failed and limiting students to only 1 browser and 1 default search engine with a few lame toy apps seems like a bad idea. An idea that in a way was tried before with RT. We will see how it end but I guess this will be as popular as RT or the Windows K and N editions
  • I'm afraid it is not one browser. It is one popular browser.
  • What popular browser is available on 10S?
  • Go through the store to figure out how many browsers are available at the moment. I stated that the only popular browser available currently is the Edge (other popular browsers are Firefox, Chrome,Etc).
  • Except Edge isn't popular in the slightest. People actively avoid it. How else does it have less than 5% useage even though it has been the default browser on all PCs sold for the last two years? https://www.netmarketshare.com/browser-market-share.aspx?qprid=2&qpcusto...
  • Windows 10 S might then be MS's attempts to fix that and get more people using it. It seems a lot of people download Chrome straightaway out of habit rather than giving Edge a shot, and this helps fight that somewhat. Edge might not quite match up to Chrome, but for most customers it does more than enough. Hopefully this will push it a bit more.
  • As it is now, Edge isn't going to satisfy many users. If they want to use the same browser and experience synced on multiple devices and platforms, then Edge definitely won't cut it. Microsoft needs to make Edge superior. They need to make people want to use it. Forcing them to use a inferior product will not bring loyal customers.
  • "It seems a lot of people download Chrome straightaway out of habit rather than giving Edge a shot" Unfortunately I'm going to have to disagree with you on that.  I really wanted Edge to work.  I was looking forward to it's release when we still thought it might be called "Spartan", but after nearly two months of using it exclusively I just couldn't do it anymore.  Yes, it renders websites very well, it's fast and has some nice features but without the basic functionality around favourites management that Microsoft inexplicably seems to think is not important to people, it's just too annoying to use.
  • Yep, for phone it's pretty good, but on Desktop it feels so annoying for me after a while. Even simple features are missing, the design is still very touch optimized, there are behaviors I don't like at all (start page instead of blank page, missing address bar on this page, which appears when I click on it after a second.. like I would need a second to start writing, I'm still not fanboy of tabs on top, since I somehow like having a titlebar, ...).