Microsoft announces $189 classroom laptops and Office 365 dictation

Microsoft launches new education PCs and apps from $189

This week at the Bett education show in the United Kingdom, the company's showing off a quartet of new devices, designed by Lenovo and JP, a hardware OEM that's been a longtime partner in developing markets.

Now, Microsoft is striking back against Google's domestic dominance, with a series of announcements created to make Windows PCs, Microsoft Office 365, and even the Minecraft video game sensation more appealing for education customers at home and overseas.

According to the analyst firm Futuresource, Google's low-priced Chromebooks captured 59.8% of the laptop market for K-12 education, compared to 22.3% of the Microsoft Windows devices in the third-quarter of 2017. The cheapest of the new laptops is a the $189 Lenovo 100e, equipped with Intel's Apollo Lake-series Celeron processor. Microsoft and Lenovo also took the wraps off the Lenovo 300e, a convertible PC that can enter tablet mode and features stylus support. These devices join the HP ProBook x360 11 EE which has proven to be one of the best-selling 2-in-1 Windows devices in the education sector at $299.

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Microsoft has agreed new partnerships with Lego Education, the BBC, PBS, NASA and Pearson, which will release six "mixed reality" applications for health, history, chemistry and maths. More platforms will also be added: Word for Mac, iPhone, and Android; Outlook for Windows and Mac (which is also getting Read Aloud support in more than 30 text-to-speech languages over the coming months); OneNote for iPad; and OneNote for Mac.

The new Chemistry update for Minecraft: Education Edition includes this compound creator and an element constructor. 10% off the HoloLens still doesn't make the device affordable at all for most schools, though. This year, Microsoft will continue expanding the tools on Office for its education customers. "Whether igniting interest in STEM, learning in 3D, helping students of all abilities improve their reading, writing, and comprehension, or saving teachers time and helping them collaborate, we know technology has the power to unlock limitless learning". If any school purchases at least 30 licenses this year they'll also qualify for free teacher training by a certified Microsoft training partner. The software features Teams for collaboration, Learning Tools with dictation, OneNote for note taking, and PowerPoint for recording lessons.

A big part of today's Office updates is the new update to OneNote Class Notebook.

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