NEW YORK — Microsoft has invited a room full of journalists and analysts to a press conference Tuesday in the Big Apple, where the company is expected to launch new devices and software aimed at teachers and students.
The event’s title — MicrosoftEDU — is about all the company has said publicly about the event, though some have speculated about what Microsoft may unveil, including perhaps a lightweight version of the Windows 10 operating system aimed at Chromebooks.
Microsoft is trying to hold its ground in the classroom, a technology market that has been reshaped by three things: the arrival of Apple’s iPad in 2010; Google’s inexpensive, easy-to-use Chromebook laptops a year later; and classroom management applications from both of the Redmond company’s rivals.
Things are scheduled to get started at 9:30 Eastern (a bright and early 6:30 a.m. for those in Seattle). A livestream can be found here, and we’ll be updating this post and tweeting when the event gets going.
Update, 6:25 a.m.
Before Microsoft pulls the curtains on its new products, some context on why education matters to Microsoft.
The classroom was Microsoft territory at the height of its power, the domain of Windows, Word and PowerPoint. Before the iPad and Chromebook came along, Windows-powered laptops and other devices accounted for more than three quarters of all computers shipped to schools, according to researcher IDC.
Last year, just 22 percent of mobile devices bound for U.S. K-12 classrooms were Windows computers, according to Futuresource Consulting. (Microsoft fares better abroad, where Windows held 65 percent of the market, the consultancy estimates).
After shutting down its moneylosing smartphone unit, Microsoft is running low on businesses that reach young people outside the workplace (Xbox is a notable exception). The company is counting on schools to help keep Microsoft a household name with a generation of technology users more familiar with Google.
Google’s Chromebooks accounted for 58 percent of K-12 mobile device shipments late last year, Futuresource estimates, up from 50 percent a year earlier. Google is also making inroads in classroom software with its modified versions the consumer Gmail, calendar and word processing apps.
“We continue to see tremendous momentum in education,” Google chief executive officer Sundar Pichai said last week on a quarterly earnings conference call. “Our products are leading the industry, thanks to their simplicity.”
He said 70 million people use Google’s G Suite for education, and 20 million students and teachers use Chromebooks.
Expect some competing stats from Microsoft shortly.