Microsoft is making a number of education-related announcements ahead of next week’s BETT education show in the UK. But one of the most surprising is the introduction of two new “Connected PCs” with Qualcom processors, built-in support for cellular networks, and prices that start as low as $299.

That will make these the cheapest Windows 10 on ARM computers to date.

Windows on ARM devices are designed to offer long battery life, built-in support for 4G LTE connectivity, and the ability to run most Windows applications. But those benefits tend to come at a cost — you can usually get better all-around performance from a similarly-priced (or cheaper) laptop or tablet with an Intel or AMD processor.

Lower the price sufficiently and it’s probably easier to overlook performance issues and app compatibility.

Microsoft says it’ll show off two new Windows on ARM Connected PCs at BETT:

  • JP.IK Turn T101 with a $299 starting price
  • Positivo Wise N1212S with a $575 starting price.

The company hasn’t said much else about these upcoming computers, so it’s unclear which Qualcomm processors they’ll have or what other feature set them apart from existing products. And since these are both aimed at the education market, it’s unclear if or when regular consumers will be able to buy either.

Still, it suggests that the cost of producing Windows on ARM hardware may be coming down, which could be good news for anyone hoping to buy a similar device without spending $1000+ on a Surface Pro X.

Microsoft says partners are also updating a number of other entry-level Windows PCs with “the newest Intel processors’ for “46-percent more system performance.” Some new pen-enabled models such as the latest versions of the Acer TravelMate Spin B3 and Lenovo 300e will also have integrated pen garages so you have a place to store a stylus when it’s not in use. And five new PCs for the education market have LED indicator lights on the back so that teachers can see at a glance whether the computers are charged and/or connected to the internet.

You can find more details about the new hardware on the way, as well as a number of software updates aimed at teachers and students in Microsoft’s blog post.

 

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  1. The first thing Microsoft needs to do is call their ARM OS something other than Windows. It would reduce confusion and Microsoft would have fewer pissed off customers because they would not expect Windows software to run on a non-Windows OS.

  2. This is more like the price point they should have started with. The 4G thing makes no sense for education, nor was it ever something enough people were that interested in. I guess that if the modem is already baked into the SoC, there’s no point in not having it.

    There are a lot more advantages for students with Chromebooks other than price, because Google is relentlessly focused on the cloud, your Chromebook can be smashed into a million pieces and you just get another one. Likewise if they forget a Chromebook, they can just borrow one from the school and they’re good to go.

    Office365 isn’t quite so pervasive, and Google got a massive head start.

    1. The biggest disadvantage to chromebooks is ultimately they’re still just a browser only laptop. Meaning they’re limited in educational software for students. When I was in high school, our laptops were Lenovo Thinkpads with Windows 7 on them. They included software for all classes and extra curriculars which means industry standard software like Visual Studio, Adobe Creative Suite, AutoCAD, and so on. Not one of those industry standard programs can be installed on a Chromebook which I see as a huge disadvantage for education. How can you teach industry standard software without being able to use them?

  3. I’ve heard that the Chromebook is mostly used for the education market which largely constitutes its “success”.

    If MS can displace Chromebooks, then targeting the education market with their Windows on ARM notebooks might end up making it a success even if regular consumers don’t buy it.