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Report: Microsoft Soars with Teams, Struggles with Chromebooks in Education

Posted January 29, 2021 | Chrome OS | Chromebook | Cloud | Education | Google | Microsoft | Microsoft 365 | Microsoft Education | Microsoft Teams | Microsoft Teams for Education | Windows | Windows 10 | Windows 10X

A report describes a company-wide all-hands meeting at Microsoft in which executives touted the success of Teams in education while bemoaning the success of Chromebooks powered by Google’s Chrome OS.

According to the report, Microsoft corporate vice president of Education Eran Megiddo told employees at a companywide all-hands meeting last week that usage of Teams in education has soared to over 100 million students, up from 30 million at the beginning of the school year in September and just 7 million the year before.

But Megiddo also had a warning about Chromebooks, which have outgrown Windows PCs, Macs, and iPads by a wide margin in education for several years. Chromebooks owned about 60 percent share of the K-12 education market in the U.S. at the start of the pandemic, and their share has likely grown again since then. But it’s not just the U.S.: As one employee noted in the meeting, Chromebook owns “major market share” in Japan, Indonesia, and other Asian markets. Overall, over 1 out of every 10 personal computers sold in 2020 was a Chromebook.

“In many cases, when schools are buying Chromebooks or Windows PCs, Chromebooks are still faster and cheaper, [and] they are easier to deploy and manage,” Megiddo told employees, stating the obvious. “We have our work cut out for us.”

Put more accurately, Microsoft still has its work cut out for it despite several years of improvements to Windows and other products aimed at education. The firm is now prepping a Chrome OS knock-off called Windows 10X that should give Microsoft’s hardware partners a more compelling alternative to Chromebooks.

“The reality is schools around the world are still closed due to the pandemic in many countries, and states and governments are scrambling to buy devices and find remote learning solutions,” Megiddo reportedly said in the meeting in response to how Microsoft planned to thwart Chromebook dominance in education. “It is a big opportunity for us. Google sees it as well, as does Apple.”

Megiddo also noted that Microsoft had scored some education wins in Kenya, Senegal, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, while admitting that it struggles in countries in which Google has strong relationships.

Megiddo never mentioned Windows 10X explicitly, despite it being the biggest open secret in the company right now. But he did say that Microsoft has a “clear roadmap” for taking on Chromebooks in education. “We’re making progress relative to the competition,” he added.

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