Last time, Microsoft targeted Apple's creatives. Now, education.

Microsoft is holding an education event today, complete with a new version of Windows and a new Surface. Windows S is a simpler, more secure version aimed at students, while Surface Laptop is Microsoft's ultrabook for education.

Windows 10 S is Microsoft's newest edition of Windows 10, with one specific change over previous, "normal" editions of Windows 10. This new edition of Windows 10 is locked to the Windows Store for all your apps and games, meaning if you want to install apps on Windows 10 S, you can only do so if said apps are available in the Store to begin with.

Makes it sound almost like iOS, where you lose online sources for apps but gain the trust that comes from a single on-device storefront. Interestingly, if Windows S ever becomes a constraint, you'll be able to upgrade it to Windows Pro.

On Mac, you can get similar functionality by turning Gatekeeper all the way up, the adjusting it back down if/when needed.

The Surface Laptop appears to be built for higher-education students and professionals who don't need the form factor of a Surface Pro or Surface Book. Sporting a more typical laptop clamshell design, with multiple color options including Platinum, Burgundy, Cobalt Blue and Graphite Gold. It's a 13.5-inch PixelSense display, meaning this screen will look crisp and clear much like on any other Surface product.

The colors are fun, much like gold and rose gold on MacBook. The processors are Intel's Kaby Lake, which is more recent than Apple's last Skylake update, and core i5 rather than the more anemic coreM. (Which cry every time they see the Apple A9 in iPad Pro.)

The lowest end model starts at $999, which is 11-inch MacBook Air territory, though it sports a Retina-style display, which the Air does not.

Last time, we saw Microsoft take aim at Apple's traditional pro market with Windows Creative and the Surface Studio. Now Microsoft is taking aim not just at Apple in education, but Google and no-cost ChromeOS and low-cost Chrome Books as well.

As Apple has driven increasingly mainstream with iOS and the Mac, both pro and education have been stretched thinner and left to languish longer.

Apple has already announced a new Mac Pro will be coming, but not this year. It remains to be seen when Kabylake updates for iMac, MacBook Pro, and MacBook — and anything for Mac mini — come our way.

It'll take more than just new chipsets to really recapture the hearts and minds, and budgets, of Apple's traditional niche markets, though. It'll take Apple figuring out a way to scale so it can meet the needs of its new mainstream market without leaving pros and education, among others, behind.

It's slightly more complicated for Apple, though. Unlike Microsoft, Apple has a flourishing mobile operating system, as well, in iOS. Plus, iPad did just get updated to a new, more-affordable-than-ever model and a partnership with Logitech to provide discount keyboards at volume for schools.

If handled wrong, that story becomes confusing. If handled right, though, iPad and Mac liberate each other to excel at opposite ends of the spectrum, and with some overlap in between.

If iOS 11 brings iPad forward the same way iOS 9 did, we might have part of our answer.

WWDC 2017 in June, which is often but not always a software-only affair, seems like the next opening for iOS and macOS devices both.

What will Apple do with it? And what would you want to see them do?

Rene Ritchie
Contributor

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

59 Comments
  • I’ll take the Windows offering pls. iOS is too restrictive.
  • Windows 10S sounds pretty restricted, like trying to be a chromeOS competitor. Might be an ok OS if their store is robust enough. Most consumer don't need "open" OS's and usually get themselves infected by some malware/virus in trying to circumvent built in protections to get stolen software/music/movies/etc for free.
  • Yes, but you have the choice to upgrade. The choice.
  • For free!!
  • Just to remember last time I used Windows Laptop & started thinking "For how long I keep worry about virus while doing my work?" That's my momentum to start using OSX at that time (macOS now).
  • I use Windows everyday and never think that, (Win 10 is a completely different prospect from Windows of old), furthermore if your attitude is that OSX is invulnerable you are exactly the kind of person that malware writers will be targeting.
  • macOS used a UNIX-based OS, and many parts have been completely re-written to ensure security stays at a high level. Windows on the other hand has many older parts that still exist in the OS and is known to suffer more from security holes than other OS's. Of course macOS can still get malware, but you're still a lot safer
  • Is that why year after year the macOS is the first to be cracked? I would definitely feel safer with this:)
  • Do you have proof for this? I've never heard about macOS being the first to be cracked, that's usually Windows
  • I think they need to get the 12" Macbook down to the $999 price point - $1300 is simply too expensive for what you get and you might as well go for the Pro. Only "affordable" option right now is the Macbook Air ($999, but usually can be found between $799-849) but that is starting to REALLY show its age and the screen is embarrassing at this point.
    You might still be able to sell K-12 schools on iPads, but I don't think there are any college students going off to school with only an iPad Pro. And for many of those students, $999 is the perfect price point for a high-quality PC that will last all 4 years.
  • Depends what those college students are studying, something like linguistics could be done fine on an iPad
  • I'm a college student exclusively using my iPad Pro. My roommate has a trash can Mac Pro so if I absolutely need a PC I jump on his, but it's pretty rare. Most of the time my iPad does every thing I need it to.
  • So basically the best thing to do is to buy an ipad and acquire a roommate with a proper computer? Swell!
  • You completely glazed over his comment; he doesn't need his roommate's Mac Pro, it's there as a fallback but not necessary at all
  • Many students are just Facebook Pros and Snapchat Pros so iPad Pro will be just fine for them. Otherwise get a laptop/MacBook if you want to do anything serious. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • An iPad is capable of doing many serious tasks, of course it depends on what you're studying as to the programs you need to use.
  • Last I heard, Tim Cook was using an iPad as his main work machine. To say that Tim Cook does not do "serious" work would be laughable. All that to say that you can do "serious" work on virtually any device. It all comes down to figuring out which device works best for your particular type of work.
  • All this hype and this is all they delivered? Microsoft is clueless. Apple will be more clueless if they don't
    respond with an off the shelf product a t a reduced price.
  • Really? Please explain.
  • Its hard to imagine this will lure anyone away from iPad or Macbook. Maybe if they were sub $400 they would do well against the Chromebook market, but at $1000?
  • From a MacBook? Probably not if they already have one. Otherwise if you're looking at specs, this one seems better.
    As for the iPad, realistically that's not really an alternative. I would pick any laptop with a decent resolution and decent spec-sheet over an iPad for school work any day. The iPad lacks a keyboard and their storage options are lacking as well. As capable a device the iPad is, the college daily driver is just not a viable use-case without workarounds and additional investments with it.
    Your mileage may vary, but I have never seen anyone use an iPad in education as their only device.
  • The iPad could easily be used as the only-device in education, although it depends what you're studying. Documents/general work will easily fit on 32GB, plus many people use cloud services to keep their work backed up too. You can easily get a cheap keyboard for the iPad
  • It could……….depending on………. WTF?? That’s an odd statement. My Mac could be the only computer I ever need depending on if I need a PC. See how ridiculous that is?
  • I mean that there are plenty of students who could use just an iPad for their education, e.g. someone studying linguistics. Obviously the iPad is limited in some areas, and it wouldn't work for someone who is doing programming, but there are plenty of subjects that it works fine for
  • Microsoft's partners like Acer just announced, concurrent with this morning's event, $300 laptops with Windows 10 S. Microsoft is deliberately keeping Surface as a higher-priced, lower-volume brand to keep their OEM partners happy but still prod them in the right direction. If they launched at < $400 I'm not sure they'd have a bunch of partners. Now they can sell some of these laptops, and try to fight ChromeOS, iOS and macOS in education with cheap(er) partner devices. I think that was probably the right strategy.
  • This is meant to be a reference device. Remember the Chromebook pixel? its kinda like that
  • You might wish to tell the full history. Yes, Apple dominated the education market in the 80s and early 90s. The Apple II also dominated computer video gaming in that same era. The reason for this was because at the time, the "personal computing" scene was IBM and Apple. IBM - being International BUSINESS Machines - regarded computing to be the province of enterprises, research and on-the-go elite professionals and felt that everything else was an unsustainable fad. That left Apple to focus on "everything else." Then Microsoft and the clone hardware makers, they began to focus on "everything else" too .... Microsoft to increase market share and the clone makers because at the time they could not compete directly with IBM. When that happened, Wintel surpassed Apple in education, video games and even - in terms of raw numbers if not reputation - among creatives. So it is not Microsoft "going after" anything. It is their coming out with new products in a realm where - while Apple may enjoy the reputation (though mostly among Apple fans) - they have had the vast majority of the market share and profits for a quarter of a century. The vast majority of schools buy Windows laptops - or did until the Chromebook - and it is what the vast amount of students own too. For goodness sakes <b>Mac has 10% market share!</b> So the idea that it was the platform of choice for most schools and students - or even most creatives when we are talking about raw numbers here - was self deception.
  • I'm puzzled as to why Rene has neglected to mention the utter car crash that was the eMac. This abomination was the one of the primary reasons why the secondary school and technical college near me abandoned Apple for Windows and Chromebooks.
  • I think that as of right now Microsoft is beating Apple in computing. If windows can only find out how to make the OS important on phones. It could destroy apple and android.
  • The only reason Windows is "important" on desktops is because they got in there early and the only competition they had at the time was the Mac. macOS and Linux are far better OS's than Windows at their core, much more stable, secure and optimized. I got a small netbook for free, that came with Windows 7. The poor thing could barely run Windows, I went and put Linux on it and the thing ran like a dream. I doubt Windows will ever be important on phones, that will always belong to iOS and Android from now on
  • Microsoft is killing Apple right now on delivering to a target market whether it be Pros/Creatives or in education. Like the new focus from MS to be more aggressive. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • Plus these laptops are more powerful that the MacBook
  • You have to levels of education sectors, Elementary and secondary.
    With elementary it's about affordablity and durability. Chromebooks has this sector and there is any competition. Apples $300 iPad is still to pricy and add on a keyboard that can be lost when detached is a no go. Same with Microsoft, they don't offer anything that can handle 1st graders Tiny destructive hands at a price point of $150 like chromebooks do. They're not built to be pretty or anything just built to connect to internet and don't care if they feel cheap or plastic. The secondary level of education is really up to the student and their workload. Honestly windows Or macOS will and really comes down to preference and price, where $1000 seems to be the sweet spot. Apple has the "brand" advantage over windows. But by no means can an iPad Pro replace and laptop as of right not. Microsoft could be on to something with the surfaces, but the branding and marketing can't really crack it. Apple is relying on it brand name more than ever and really needs to deliver something to back it up soon. I'm a student and the iPad can't do what I need. A lot of my online classes tell me I cant use my iPad because of lack of flash support or I still need a USB port for transferring information and need to remember to carry adapters. No mouse support. I know about the touch generation and I am one but the education sector is still behind on technology and I need things like a mouse and USB, things that are standard on my Mac. I laugh at the iPad Pro commercials about being a laptop replacement with the added bonus of having cellular. Look. Maybe typing up an paper or reading email could be done on an iPad with ease and could be more suited for a "computer" for a soccer mom, but at school the iPad just doesn't work for me. It's not just the hardware but also the software. iOS can't hack it at some things and that's why the MacBook or even the MacBook Air would be more valuable to a student over a decked out iPad Pro. As of now the iPad is just a toy. That I watch Netflix on after class in bed and don't want a Mac sitting on top of me but don't want to squint my eyes at my iPhone. I'd love to see some sort of hybrid between my MacBook and iPad though like the surface and think Apple is working their way there, but just milking it right now until they figure out the perfect hardware and software for said device. If I was asked on my opinion on what to buy, I'd ask them about what they do. If you're a student or have a job where you need to work from a "computer" I'd say spend the $1000 on a MacBook/iMac depending on further questions into the nature of said schooling and or work.
    If you're not in school and don't really do a lot of your daily work from a "computer" I'd suggest an iPad, in which I'd then ask questions on what you want/need. Smart connector is nice, but Bluetooth keyboards get the job done. Pencil is neich. However best bang for the buck to me is the 9.7 pro. More so because of the speakers than anything else and if you do ever need/want the pencil it's compatible.
  • I’d agree with this. If an iPad can replace your computer you never needed a PC, (or Mac), in the first place.
  • "A lot of my online classes tell me I cant use my iPad because of lack of flash support" Well in that case I can't use my Mac either. Yeah I can install the horrible mess that is Flash onto my Mac or use the Chrome sandboxed-but-still-not-safe version, however I value my security and don't wish to use technology that is full of security holes, older than the hills and will drain my MacBooks battery in 5 seconds. "or I still need a USB port for transferring information and need to remember to carry adapters" You can't use an iPad because you struggle to remember things? What kind of reason is that? "No mouse support. I know about the touch generation and I am one but the education sector is still behind on technology and I need things like a mouse and USB, things that are standard on my Mac." No you don't, unless you're talking about Flash (which is just repeating the first point). All non-flash websites work fine on the touch screen.
  • I think you'd be surprised at how many people use chrome one there mac, over safari, while at the same time use safari over chrome on their iPad/iPhone. Mouse support is still very much needed and used and at more intuitive that having to use a finger. All this can be fixed though. Give me an iPad with just one USB-C that's used for charging and transferring of data. Build a keyboard with trackpad and allow coding. Swift playgrounds isn't ideal and something a light as Python still need more power. Allow Xcode to exist on the Pro end I have classes where I need to not only turn in a USB with my project but also plug it up to a projector. A dongle can be forgotten or misplaced compared to a Mac where that's less likely to be forgotten and has the USB built in.
  • I've nothing wrong with people using Chrome, but even Chrome is trying to get rid of Flash:
    https://www.theverge.com/2016/12/9/13903878/google-chrome-block-flash-html5 Mouse support will never happen on the iPad, it's a device that's supposed to be controlled by the touchscreen and Safari on iPhone has allowed web pages to work fine with touchscreen since day 1 of the first iPhone. I would like to see USB-C on the iPhone and iPad, that I agree with. Allowing coding is definitely something that needs to happen too but there won't be a trackpad. Your suggestions are good but mouse support won't happen, and Flash is going away on desktop as well
  • Right. Flash is on it's way out, but a lot of education classes still use it. Heck I have two right now. First thing that popped up when starting my online class, literally said "iPads not supported." I don't see why a track pad of some sort can't exist. The Mac is going Touch. I bet the Force track pad becomes the next touch bar with pencil support. In that case why not have it for iPad? If your hands are resting on a keyboard it's more intuitive to navigate from there
  • If lots of education classes still stored their work on floppy disks, should Apple's products cater for that as well? Ask yourself that, then give me the correct answer on Flash. Even if a trackpad existed on the iPad, you still can't use Flash, but you're delusional if you think either of these are going to happen.
  • That all depends. Is Apple marketing a device that doesn't support floppy, as something that can replace a traditional device used in education that's supports floppy?
  • There are archaic webpages out there that only support Internet Explorer, does this mean the Mac needs to have Internet Explorer too?
  • But you didn't answer the question. I was trying to find context to yours, so that I could answer and you've moved on. Here's an example of how the iPad can't really be a computer replacement right now, especially when Apple is selling a few at the same price as a budget laptop. I recently received a notification from my bank saying I should update my income, for a chance to have a larger credit line on my card. I just needed to log in a in their website and fill out stuff. So I was like why not right? Buy more Apple stuff because I'm a fan. So I get on my iPad and click the link in my email, where I'm set to authenticate my identification. After that it automatically sent me to a MOBILE friendly site, where updating my income wasn't offered. No desktop site was offered, so I forced it. I was scrolling left to right because the site wasn't scaled and it just was a simple task. The average person would have given up. That's the problem. Look at iMore. Rene and the gang still use their Macs over iPads because it's just not there yet. Serinity went a whole year and though she enjoyed her experience, still went back. Yes the iPad Pro can manage 4K film editing better than the 2015/2016 MacBook, but that MacBook or even an Air, have a better success rate with more complicated tasks than the iPad.
    I want the iPad to be my laptop, I prefer iOS of macOS and but it's simply not there yet. A large part of it comes from preference I get it, like with the Rene comment, he and most people, are more accustomed to using macOS to do work than on iOS.
  • On the iPad, hold down the refresh button on the browser, then you get an option to view the desktop website. That aside, the iPad definitely has areas that it's weak in, such as development tools and not having access to a file system. However not everyone needs development tools, and for these people the iPad is fine. I can see these problems being fixed since these are reasonsble fixes. However putting Flash or a trackpad on the iPad is never going to happen though, Flash is archaic, and the iPad is designed to be only controlled by touch
  • Remember they went after creatives, and just delivered the Studio. what happened with that? Nothing really. The Creators update was more of a SP1 type of update that just had fixes, and ooooh 3D paint. Nothing else that leverages creators or professionals. In the the end, I hate to say it as I love the Surface Studio, but the Surface Studio is just kinda gimmicky and restricted. Inspirational yes, but usable? Not really. Needs better horse power to drive pro apps at that resolution, and it needs pro apps in its store.
  • All hype and advertising :)
  • Sounds like Windows RT all over again.
    Who's going to pay $999 for a Chromebook competitor, not many people.
    Give me an iPad and a MacBook anytime!!
  • Really $3000 in product is better than a $1000 product? Shocking... Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • I think he was getting to the fact that Windows S is a gimped OS and you could get a computer with full Windows for the same price
  • Right but Rene has also failed to mentioned is for an additional $50 that you can pay at anytime, unlocks the "s" and gives you all of W10. Seems like that could be a good investment down the road. Use the S in school and when you get a job, unlock it for $50.
  • Up and down voting on iMore.com seems to be broken these days, or is it just me?
  • Yep it's broken, I assume they're still doing changes to the website as some parts of the design are still in blue whereas they should be yellow now
  • macbook/ ipad is not what the young generation wants. see it on my kids and there friends. was thinking to give them an ipad for christmas and they told me they did not want it because nothing they can do with it. prefered a galaxy note 4. FINALLY AN UPGRADE FROM THERE STUPID IPHONE. talking to other parents that kids are looking more and more in GOOGLE than we think is all about youtube and snapchat. thats the thing apple needs to learn because people wont be able to spend 1300$ for a macbook but 600 for a laptop that is even better (SD card, USB ports...)
  • This will not be very popular as Microsofts technical support is always terrible, the last time that I had an issue with Windows it took 3 calls and approximately 5 hours of my time to sort it out, also when setting up a business I had various questions for Microsoft regarding Office 365 several calls later still did not get a correct answer and had to sort it out by trial and error, when calling Apple always get the issues sorted out in one quick phone call, teachers and school IT departments don't have the time to sort out all these issues so don't think that this will be very popular in the educational market.
  • The new Surface laptop is, well; an average laptop at an inflated price. $999 gets 4GB RAM, minuscule SSD. An operationally equivalent to the current macbook Air will set you back $1299.. You also get to use Bing and Edge only, unless you pay the $50 OS upgrade fee. what a scam. BTW- Microsoft sold 15K Surface Studios. That's really taking over the design world, isn't
    it?
  • Only use Bing and Edge? Hah, can't wait for the monopoly lawsuits to come back again…
  • It's not quite the same. The search engine can be changed from defaulting to Bing, and the option is there for Google to add their search and Chrome apps to the Windows Store should they wish to. If there's a monopoly lawsuit that should be raised then it should be against Apple for not allowing alternative default browsers on iOS.
  • You're not allowed to set them as default, but you can use them, and they're easily available. I'm sure Apple will allow default apps on iOS soon, especially given that you can now "hide" the Apple built-in ones
  • I hope they do. The stock mail app is basic compared to others available, and Safari on iOS is far less compliant with Web standards than Chrome for Android is.
  • Nice hardware, but I feel like nobody under 25 will ever voluntarily buy a Windows machine again. Some today still "grin and bear it" if they NEED to use Windows to type out college reports, etc, and others voluntarily suffer through the learning curve since it's the ONLY way to get to the high-end PC Games they want to play (currently the case), but I can vouch that the "way" we interact with Windows, constantly, and very precisely single-clicking, double-clicking, right-clicking looks ancient to youngsters. As soon as there is another affordable, viable, pleasant (Non-Mac) way to "coffee-shop laptop", which I can only assume will be when iOS-Desktop Edition and Android Desktop Edition are mature and widespread, they will abandon Windows in a heartbeat. IMHO Samsung should take advantage of this chasm and release their DeX OS (Windowed Android) on $200-300 laptop and market it as the "Windows" that can Snapchat...now THAT would have legs.