Microsoft is ramping up its efforts to capture a bigger piece of the education market from rivals such as Google, with an array of new educational software tools as well as classroom-focused Windows 10 devices from partners.
While touting affordably priced Windows 10 laptops from partners such as Lenovo, Microsoft this week also took a jab at Google in a blog post by saying the new devices are "providing more options for schools who don't want to compromise on Chromebooks."
Microsoft rolled out new tools for students aimed at aiding reading and writing skills, such as the addition of dictation capabilities to Office 365 and Office apps.
The company is also expanding the availability of its Immersive Reader feature, which reads text out loud while simultaneously highlighting it. Immersive Reader will be available soon on Word for Mac, iPhone and Android; on Outlook Desktop; and on OneNote for iPhone, iPad and Mac, according to Microsoft.
In terms of tools for teachers, Microsoft is delivering a handful of capabilities including a much-requested feature for the OneNote Class Notebook. The new feature will allow teachers to convert pages to a read-only format after providing feedback to students.
In addition, Microsoft said Minecraft: Education Edition will add chemistry-learning capabilities in the spring, while new curriculum offerings on HoloLens and Windows Mixed Reality headsets will be available in coming months via partners such as educational products company Pearson.
The latest moves follow Microsoft's launch last year of the education-focused Windows 10 S operating system, which has been aimed at helping Microsoft to compete with Google's popular Chrome OS and Chromebook devices in K-12 education.
New Windows 10 devices touted by Microsoft this week include the Lenovo 100e, a clamshell laptop that will have a starting price of US$189, and the Lenovo 300e, a 2-in-1 laptop that will have a starting price of US$279. Both laptops are expected to be available in January.