Microsoft just revealed the newest Surface model and it’s aimed directly at the education market. Called the Surface Laptop, this is the notebook Microsoft hopes schools will buy instead of a Chromebooks. But unlike other Surface models, it does not run the traditional desktop version of Windows, though. The $999 Surface Laptop runs Windows 10 S, a new streamlined operating system Microsoft unveiled at the same event.
Microsoft tried this before. The original Surface product ran a stripped down version of Windows 8 called Windows RT. Much like that dead OS, Windows 10 S is cribbed to allow for a higher performance from lower-end hardware. There are serious limitations to Windows 10 S and Microsoft is asking a lot from buyers by charging $999 for a device that cannot run programs downloaded from any source.
The Laptop clearly hopes to recapture some of the marketshare its lost to Chromebooks over the last few years. When Google unveiled its Chrome OS, Microsoft and Apple owned of the education market. That was in 2011. In 2012 Chrome OS only accounted for 1% to 2% according to Rajen Sheth, a Google director. But now in 2017, Chrome OS accounted for 51% of the sales in the K-12 market nationwide in the third quarter.
Microsoft is adopting its Surface strategy for this important market. Instead of just partnering with hardware builders like HP or Dell, Microsoft is also releasing a hardware device designed in-house. Microsoft proved it had the chops to design and release a market-leading product with the latest device in the Surface family.
But at $999 the Surface Laptop costs a lot more than traditional Chromebooks. This isn’t a competitor to the nearly-disposable Chromebook most school districts purchase. This is a Google Pixel competitor.
The Surface Laptop has a 3:2, 1080p 13.5-inch touchscreen and the keyboard is encased in the same material used on the premium Surface Pro 4 keyboard. There’s a conventional USB port, SD card slot, mini DisplayPort, and a conventional Surface power connector — USB-C is not on the device. The TK weighs 2.76 pounds runs a Intel Core i5 CPU, 4GB of RAM and has 128GB of SSD storage.
The Surface Laptop will come in four colors and will cost $999.