Microsoft Education Announces 4 Budget Laptops, Free Office 365 Access

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Microsoft on Monday announced the launch of four new school-focused Windows 10 laptops. The company also unveiled plans to offer free access to Office 365 Education to school teachers in 146 countries globally and several developments for STEM – including new curricula for Computer Science with Minecraft, partnerships for Mixed Reality headsets, and a new Chemistry update.

New laptops
Microsoft unveiled four new laptops – two from Lenovo and two developed by JP.

With a budget oriented approach for school students, the Lenovo range starts at just $189 (roughly Rs. 12,100) for the Lenovo 100e. It is powered by an Intel Celeron Apollo Lake processor, coupled with a minimum of 2GB LPDDR4 RAM. It sports a 11.6-inch HD (1366×768 pixels) antiglare display. The laptop also boasts a battery life of up to 10 hours, and has a weight of 1.22 kg.

The Lenovo 300e 2-in-1 convertible PC has also been announced in the Microsoft Education range. The laptop is powered by an Intel Pentium processor, coupled with a minimum of 4GB LPDDR4 RAM and a minimum of 16GB eMMC storage. The laptop sports a 11.6-inch HD (1366×768 pixels) 10-point multitouch display with Active Pen support. It boasts a battery life of up to 8 hours.The Lenovo 300e has been priced starting at $279 (roughly Rs. 17,800).

There are two laptops, in the Microsoft Education range, from JP that have been launched. The Classmate Leap T303 laptop with Windows Hello support starts at $199 (roughly Rs. 12,700) and the Trigono V401 2-in-1 starts at $299 (roughly Rs. 19,100). The latter comes with pen and touch support.

Office 365 Education
Microsoft also announced that it would be extending free access to Office 365 Education to teachers in 146 countries. Apart from that, a number of new education-based updates are set to arrive on Microsoft Office next month. These include Microsoft Learning Tools to help students improve their comprehension skills, assignment and grade integration on OneNote Class Notebook, access to classroom digital hub Teams on iOS and Android, and enabling teachers to publish PowerPoint slides to Teams classrooms.

STEM announcements
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is an important area of focus for Microsoft Education. The Redmond giant announced several new developments on the STEM front. Microsoft is partnering with BBC Worldwide to bring the natural history film Oceans: Our Blue Planet to classrooms and museums.

A partnership with LEGO Education will also incorporate a new free online hacking STEM lesson plan that enables students to do things like measure topography in 2D/ 3D space, build tools with LEGO bricks, create transportation plans, and more.

Microsoft has also partnered with other education providers that will roll out compatible curriculum for Windows Mixed Reality headsets and Microsoft HoloLens headsets. A limited period pricing will be available for academic students and professors from January 22 till May 31. Commercial and Developer HoloLens variants will be available for a 10 percent discount in select markets where the headset ships.

Lastly, a new Chemistry Update will be rolled out for STEM in Spring 2018. It will enable teachers and students to use Minecraft to help learn the subject better.

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