Microsoft is making strides in the edu market, but it goes beyond just numbers

Arif Bacchus

Futuresource recently released a PCs in education report for the third quarter of 2018, and it highlights some good strides for Microsoft. Though the first quarter of 2017 was slow for mobile PC sales, shipments went up in the first half of 2018, reaching 5.8 million units, up from 5.5 million from last quarter. This is all good news for Microsoft, which has long been on a mission to help empower educators and students to achieve more.

These latest stats paint a good story so we asked Eran Megiddo, Corporate Vice President of Education at Microsoft, about what has been going on to get the company to this point. Megiddo took us a bit beyond the numbers and explained that Microsoft actually spends “a ton of time” in classrooms with students and teachers both here in the US and across the globe. He says it helps the tech company understand how to go about solving problems in the classrooms, like automating grading with OneNote to help teachers spend time with their students.

“A great example is OneNote class notebook, where the focus has been on how we save teachers time, time from distributing assignments, and collecting assignments, and grading assignments… By really spending the time in the classroom with teachers and understanding the needs and focusing our solutions on that, vs just providing tech into the classroom and getting it deployed, that’s what I think is fueling the growth in our marketshare.”

In the global perspective, Windows is maintaining its leadership in the first quarter of 2018, and accounts for 44% of shipments in the first quarter. There is also continued competition between Google and Microsoft in the $300 device range, with Windows share going up 3.3 points YoY, and Chromebooks going down 17.9 points. This marks the 8th consecutive quarter of growth for Windows, even though Futuresource holds that Chrome OS has the majority share of the market powering 56% of devices shipped in Q1.

Again, these numbers are good on paper, but Megiddo added that helping kids learn and bringing Microsoft technology to schools is an important mission for Microsoft. He explained that the company has many active partnerships with schools and highlighted that Microsoft’s learning tools technology has been helping improve reading comprehension. He also pointed out that Microsoft’s analytic tools have helped improved graduation rates in Tacoma public schools.

“It has to start with helping kids learn. What’s first and foremost is doing what we can to bring the technology that’s around us into classrooms and into homes, and helping those kids learn and helping them achieve more in life. I think it goes back to the partnerships that we have with the students, with the teachers, with the educators. That partnership of spending time and focusing on the needs of students is the differencing aspect of just making the technology available.”

OneNote Class Notebook and Microsoft Teams are just two of the Microsoft products which many schools have been using. Teams for Education actually recently celebrated a one year Anniversary and picked up new features like creating, storing and applying rubrics to assignments, distributing quizzes/surveys with Microsoft Forms, and more. These features were all based on feedback from teachers, which Eran Megiddo pointed as part of Microsoft’s measure of success in the market.

“We measure our success when we are impacting learning outcomes. Not just based on how much software or hardware we’ve deployed. That’s what success is to us and by using that feedback we build into our product strategy, that is what is driving our success in the market.”

The education market is really proving to be competitive and important for all major tech companies. Apple recently introduced a new 9.7 inch iPad for education users and Google continues to see success with its Chromebooks. Last year, Microsoft also introduced Windows 10 in S Mode and the Surface Laptop for students and educators. You can learn more about Microsoft’s education initiatives by checking here.