Microsoft challenges Google in the classroom with new devices, Office features

Microsoft challenges Google in the classroom with new devices, Office features

The software juggernaut from Redmond took a moment today to announce some new low-cost portable machines from its manufacturing partners and publicize some of its efforts at creating software especially for young minds.

Starting in February, the company is adding new dictation capabilities to Office apps across all devices to make it possible for students of all abilities write easily with their voice. This year, the company is offering a deal, via which schools can receive professional development at no additional cost when they purchase Microsoft 365 A1 licenses for their Windows 10 devices. There's also the Lenovo 300e which is an affordable 2-in-1 convertible PC with pen support for $279.

The Lenovo 100e laptop is based on the Intel Celeron Apollo Lake processor and it will be available starting at just $189 Dollars. "They are all spill resistant and ruggedized to avoid accidental breakage, have long battery life to avoid charging wires all over the classroom and have faster connectivity". And Microsoft also is offering a limited-time (January 22 to May 31) price cut of 10 percent for Commercial and Developer HoloLens units to qualified academic institutions.

Microsoft is also working on the content for teachers that would be more suitable to use with these laptops. Users of Microsoft Teams for Education will now have access to their classroom on Team from their iOS or Android device and be able to keep track of all the conversations, assignments, shared files, and more from their smartphones.

PowerPoint will now allow teachers to record their lessons including slides, interactive ink, video, and narrations and publish to their Stream channel in Teams classrooms. The apps work with Microsoft HoloLens and will be rolled out across the year.

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An update to the immersive game Minecraft: Education Edition, created to engage students in chemistry through virtual experimentation and other tasks.

A big part of today's Office updates is the new update to OneNote Class Notebook. In a notable announcement, Microsoft is also adding integrations with some of the most used School Information Systems.

Microsoft's Minecraft game is hugely popular with kids and students.

Other interesting new projects include Minecraft getting a "World of Chemistry" update to help promote Chemistry learning in schools by making objects including glow sticks, rapid grow fertilizer, and underwater torches in Minecraft.

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