Windows sees U.S. education market growth among low-end devices

Microsoft's efforts in the education market appear to be paying off, at least when it comes to low-end devices. According to its latest report on the K-12 market, FutureSource revealed that Windows' share of the U.S. market grew by 6.5 points among devices under $300. According to Microsoft, Windows has achieved its highest share in four years in that price category.

Microsoft and its OEM's partners also helped to propel the $300 category to show the largest rise in share, despite an overall slowdown in the U.S. education market, FutureSource says.

"Despite the slowdown, both Google and Windows devices saw unit growth during the fourth quarter, while Apple's iPad volumes declined year-on-year after shipments reached a quarterly high of over 1 million units during Q2 2017," commented Ben Davis, Senior Market Analyst at Futuresource Consulting. "The sub $300 price category saw the largest rise in share, growing 6% year-on-year, in part thanks to Microsoft and its OEM partners launching a raft of lower cost education focused Windows devices in recent past." These devices have been positioned as Chrome compete solutions, providing an alternative to the value orientated Chromebooks, which are widely adopted in US schools.

Globally, Windows kept its lead position and accounted for 43.5% of shipments in 2017 and 47.5% in the fourth quarter, though it "conceded share in some key markets 2017," FutureSource says. In the U.S., Chome OS holds a majority share of the market with 59.6% of devices shipped in Q4 and 58.3% of devices shipped during 2017.

Microsoft has been redoubling its efforts with educators in recent months, most recently announcing a whole slew of new partnerships, features, and more across its lineup of services in January. Those efforts have helped lead to 75 percent growth for OneNote in the past year, along with 10 million monthly active users with Microsoft Learning Tools, Microsoft says. The company also says it is seeing more than one million new Window 10 devices being used by K-12 and higher education students each month.

That's good news for Microsoft, but the company still faces fierce competition from Google's low-cost Chromebook line and, to some extent, Apple's iPad. Further improvements to services line OneNote and Microsoft Teams, as well as new educational experiences enabled by Windows Mixed Reality, could help Microsoft stay competitive.