New Microsoft Surface Laptops unveiled at Education Event.

May 02 2017

Microsoft Announces New Laptops and OS Perfect for 21st-Century Students

Windows 10 S, Surface Laptop and other updates are coming to classrooms in the fall.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella can trace the innovation in his family back to his grandfather’s rare opportunity to go to college.

“Talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not,” says Nadella in the keynote speech at a Microsoft Education event in New York City on Tuesday, May 2. “How can tech create opportunity for all?”

Nadella says Microsoft tools like OneNote and Office 365 have been deployed in classrooms around the world to help begin to “build the world of tomorrow” for young students.

“Technology is seen in many ways as diminishing the role of the teacher, but that couldn’t be further from the truth,” says Anthony Salcito, Microsoft’s vice president of worldwide education in interview with EdTech. “We need amazing innovative educators now more than ever before.”

Thanks to some new updates and devices, Microsoft has made it easier than ever for these educators to embrace technology.

Surface Laptop Introduces Seamless Technology

Perhaps the biggest cheers from the crowd came from the announcement of the new Surface Laptop, which will be available in June 2017.

Panos Panay, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of Surface computing, touts it as a product that “disappears into the background” and lets students get immersed in their work — which can last the entire 14 hours of the device’s battery life.

The laptop checks in at 2.76 pounds with a 13.5-inch PixelSense display and 3:2 aspect ratio. Equipped with a fabric overlay on the backlit keyboard, the laptop is so seamless it doesn’t even have speaker grills. Instead, Panay says users can be immersed in sound while working on things like video. With a Surface Pen and the laptop’s LCD touch module, annotation is easy, even on videos.

Panay touts the Surface Laptop as a computer that will help students get through college admissions essays and on through all four years of college.

“In the history of designing laptops, there has always been something that has to give,” he says. “This product is so balanced.”

Windows 10 S Helps Students and Teachers Unlock Creativity

Windows 10 S, Microsoft’s new cloud-manageable operating system, was born following feedback from teachers and students about increasing the functionality of Windows 10.​

“Windows 10 S is streamlined for simplicity, secure, runs for superior performance and is the soul of today’s Windows,” says Executive Vice President of Windows and Devices Group Terry Myerson.

Available on a multitude of devices, Windows 10 S supports applications that are downloaded from the Microsoft Store so that teachers know they are secure. If a student tries to download and run an application that is not from the store, Myerson says a pop-up message will point the student to recommended apps available in the store. By the time Windows 10 S launches, the entire Office Suite will be available to download from the Microsoft Store.

Myerson says that Windows 10 S will also streamline the process that it takes for educators and administrators to set up devices. Myerson demonstrated that a user logging in for the first time would only have to wait 10 to 15 seconds, with a subsequent login time of less than five seconds.

“For the classroom, this means that the teacher can start teaching quicker,” says Myerson.

To set up multiple devices on Windows 10 S, an administrator simply has to run through a wizard once to set up devices as single-student or shared. That setup can then be stored on a USB key, which can be inserted into all of the remaining Windows 10 S devices.

Myerson announced that Windows 10 S will be available in the summer (and free for schools that have Windows 10 Pro now). In addition to the operating system, Myerson said brand-new Windows 10 PCs from partners like Acer, Asus and Dell will be coming out in the summer.

Updates Amp Up Interactive Lessons

Microsoft initially announced collaborative platform Microsoft Teams in November 2016, but today the tech giant unveiled Teams as a classroom experience, making it a hub for students and teachers to use both in the classroom and at home.

Through Teams, students can collaborate and ask teachers questions. Educators can even arrange for guest speakers via video call. The platform also lets educators break up students into collaborative work groups for projects, where they can bring in additional tools like Word and PowerPoint to annotate.

“It’s easy with Microsoft Teams to connect with more internal resources,” says Anthony Newbold, principal at Bear Creek Middle School, who has been part of a pilot group using Teams. “Now every student has choice and voice for how they engage in the classroom.”

Some other updates from Microsoft’s event include the announcement of Code Builder for Minecraft Education Edition, which allows students to use drag-and-drop code or JavaScript to create new environments. Also, View Mixed Reality can help to bring things like NASA’s Curiosity rover into classrooms through just a simple webcam.

Meghan Bogardus Cortez

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