Microsoft’s Education-focused event is happening tomorrow in New York City. Microsoft has a much bigger event next week as well, where the company will reveal the next big step for Windows 10 and a lot more. So what exactly is Microsoft going to announce at the event tomorrow? Well, there’s quite a lot of things — most of which focus on one thing: Microsoft’s education audience. Redmond is introducing a new version of Windows 10, and a new type of Windows devices to take on Google’s Chromebooks.
Windows 10 Cloud / Windows 10 S
Microsoft will unveil a new version of Windows 10 tomorrow. Microsoft is yet to officially talk about the new version of Windows 10, which might be called “Windows 10 Cloud” or “Windows 10 S”. The new version of Windows 10 is essentially the backbone of the hardware Microsoft will be introducing at the event tomorrow. That’s because Windows 10 Cloud is a lightweight version of Windows 10 that offers increased security, and only lets users download apps from the Windows Store.
With Windows 10 S, Microsoft is clearly planning to take on Google’s Chromebooks. Devices powered by Windows 10 S will be quite affordable, and Microsoft will be targeting them towards its education audience. Windows 10 S is still Windows 10 as we know it, minus the fact that you can’t install apps outside of the Windows Store. You will still be able to download some of the Win32 apps that are available on the Windows Store, including the likes of Evernote, Slack, and even the full-fledged Office apps. This is also a security feature for Windows 10 — as users can only download apps from the Windows Store, their Windows 10 device can no longer be affected by malware.
The best thing about Windows 10 S is the fact that users will be able to upgrade it to the regular version of Windows 10 at a price, which is really great because some users may still want to download the classic Win32 apps online and get access to all of the advanced features in Windows 10.
Along with Windows 10 Cloud, Microsoft will introduce new hardware that comes with it. The new hardware is going to be called CloudBook, and Microsoft will likely also introduce its own CloudBook — possibly under the Surface brand. It is highly likely Microsoft will show off some other CloudBook devices from its OEM partners such as Dell, HP, Acer, and Asus as well.
As the CloudBook devices are supposed to be Chromebook competitors, they will be affordable — which means you won’t get the fastest CPUs or the best display. Instead, these devices will focus on the price while providing a seamless experience. According to a recent leak, the recommended minimum specs for a CloudBook includes a quad-core Intel Celeron processor, 4GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, a better larger than 40WHr so that it’s capable of providing an all-day battery life for most students.
If Microsoft does introduce its own CloudBook device, it will likely include a slightly more powerful set of specs, which means it will be a bit more expensive — and if it is indeed part of the company’s Surface line of devices, that will be completely fine because of the brand.
There’s a lot we don’t know about CloudBook, and that, of course, includes the price which is really crucial for Microsoft. CloudBooks need to be cheaper than most Chromebooks, or at least come at the same price range — and if that’s not the case, I doubt Microsoft’s plans will succeed.
Office on Windows Store
Another big part of Windows 10 Cloud and CloudBook is Office. Microsoft’s Office suite is probably the most important applications for its education audience. But as Windows 10 Cloud is only able to downloads app from the Windows Store, that’s a major problem for Microsoft. Sure, the company already has the Office Mobile apps on the Windows Store but they aren’t quite full-featured.
As we previously reported, Microsoft is also expected to bring the full-fledged Office desktop apps to the Windows Store tomorrow. The company is bringing the classic Office desktop apps to the Windows Store using its Desktop App Bridge which essentially allows developers to bring their classic Win32 apps to the Windows Store.
By bringing the classic Office apps to the Windows Store, Microsoft is removing the biggest hurdle for Windows 10 Cloud and CloudBooks. Along with being able to download and install the classic Office apps from the Windows Store, Windows 10 users will also be able to buy Office 365 subscriptions directly from the Windows Store. And that’s pretty neat.
The May 2nd event is quite substantial for Microsoft. Chromebooks are posing quite a lot of threat to Microsoft, and even Apple. Microsoft knows it needs to compete with Google before it’s too late, and the May 2nd event could possibly be the start of something new for Microsoft. Even though there are quite a lot of cheap Windows 10 tablets that are trying to compete with Chromebooks, CloudBooks might be even cheaper as Windows 10 Cloud will likely be available at a lower price than Windows 10 Home or Pro to OEMs. That’ll cut the cost of production for OEMs, which means they will be able to sell their Windows 10 devices at a lower price.
Will it work out for Microsoft? Who knows. The company’s Windows RT was quite similar to Windows 10 Cloud, but Windows 10 Cloud is still a lot different from Windows RT. When Microsoft launches Windows 10 devices powered by ARM processors, Windows 10 Cloud might turn out to be immensely useful, but that’s something we’ll get to see in the future. But for now, the May 2nd event should be very interesting and give us some more details on Microsoft’s plans for killing the Chromebook.
Catch MSPU’s live coverage
As per usual, we will be covering the May 2nd event live, which starts at 9:30AM Eastern Time (that’s 13:30 GMT). We are actually attending the event in New York City tomorrow, so we’ll also be publishing a lot of hands-on pictures, videos, and all the other good stuff. The best way to keep up with all the news from the May 2nd event is to bookmark our dedicated event page and follow us on Twitter.