Microsoft goes all-in on education with new Windows 10 devices, Always Connected PCs, and new features for OneNote, PowerPoint

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Microsoft is announcing today, January 16, several new updates to its education initiatives. The company is planning on introducing new Windows 10 devices for the education market and will be bringing new education-related features to OneNote and PowerPoint. Microsoft will also be entering a new partnership with T-Mobile to offer schools Always Connected PCs.

We’ll be starting first with the new Windows 10 devices. On this front, Microsoft and its partners will be introducing updates to 14 of the most affordable Windows 10 devices from Acer, Dell, HP, Lenovo, JP.IK, and Positivo. In a continued jab at Chromebooks, prices on the devices will start at $200.

Some of these new Windows 10 PCs will have Intel’s newest Gemini Lake processors, which Microsoft promises will boost device performance by 46%. Other features on some of the new education PCs include indicator lights to see students’ status from the front of the classroom and built-in pen storage with charging on select devices.

Next, there are the Always Connected PCs, which Microsoft hopes can close the broadband gap for 1.15 billion students around the world. In this area, Microsoft’s partners Positivo and JP.IK will be introducing two new Always Connected PCs, built and priced especially for education — the JP.IK Turn T101 and Positivo Wise N1212S. Microsoft claims these PCs will be the “most affordable Connected PCs yet,” with the JP.IK Turn T101 starting at $299 and the Wise N1212S at $575 USD. Both devices will be shipping later this summer, and Microsoft promises the PCs will have twice the battery life and 25 percent better performance than competing platforms.

Microsoft will also be partnering with T-Mobile to offer select school districts in rural and underserved areas in the U.S. a chance to test the newest Connected PCs. T-Mobile will provide pilot schools with SIM cards and free 4G LTE coverage plans to get these new PCs up and running. Outside of the United States, Microsoft will partner with Vodafone (and its subsidiary Vodacom in Africa) to provide education-specific cellular plans to customers using the newest Connected PCs.

Third up is the news on the Microsoft Edge and OneNote side of things. Here, Microsoft will be planning to push its new Chromium-based Edge browser as a solution for educators, with ease of management for IT, the ability to change text size, reading text aloud, and even inking on PDFs right in the browser. Microsoft will also be starting a private preview of OneNote Live Captions, which will allow students to connect OneNote to a Microsoft Translator session via a Join Code and receive the captions and translation stream while still taking notes.

Finally, there’s the news about the new professional development tools for educators that Microsoft will be introducing for the education market. There are three specific things here, including PowerPoint Live Presentations, updates to Microsoft Stream to create training videos on the web, and Microsoft Teams Class Insights.

With PowerPoint Live Presentations schools will be able to train teachers from anywhere via the web. Schools will be able to present slides on the web and using a QR code, while viewers will be able to follow along with live translation in more than 60 languages on their personal device. With updates to Microsoft Stream, a new Flipgrid camera integration will make it fun for anyone to personalize and share content in seconds. Stream will also soon support browser-based screen recording and editing, too. Lastly, with Microsoft Teams Class Insights, Microsoft will help equip educators with more data on student performance and activity and help educators generate Parent and Guardian emails that summarize a student’s weekly progress and the week ahead.

Microsoft will be in attendance and is a worldwide partner of BETT, an annual trade show in the United Kingdom organized by ITE Group. You can expect to hear more about these initiatives as the show rolls on.