Microsoft Monday: Surface Laptop, Windows 10 S, Smartphone Plans, Invoke Smart-Home Speaker – Forbes

The new Microsoft Surface Laptop, which was announced on May 2, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Microsoft Monday is a weekly column that focuses on updates in regards to the Redmond giant. This week, Microsoft Monday includes details about Windows 10 S, the Surface Laptop, new Minecraft: Education Edition features, the new Microsoft Surface Arc Mouse, a Microsoft Teams app update, Satya Nadella’s stance on smartphones, investments in artificial intelligence startups and the new Invoke device.

Microsoft Announces Several New Products Including Windows 10 S Operating System And $999 Surface Laptop

Last week, Microsoft hosted an event in New York City to announce several new products. At the event, Microsoft unveiled a new version of Windows, a new line of laptops and several new educational services.

Windows 10 S

The new version of Windows is called Windows 10 S, which is tailored for students and teachers. What does the S stand for? Windows head Terry Myerson said that the “S” stands for “streamlined, significant performance, and security.” And he said it also stands for the “soul” of the operating system.

Windows 10 S is a variation of Windows that allows you to install apps only from the Windows Store. Microsoft says that is what makes it “streamlined for security and performance.” This also guarantees fast boot times. You may remember that Microsoft attempted this with the Windows RT operating system in the past.

But the Windows 10 S operating system was designed to run on PCs for educational institutions through manufacturing partners like Acer and Dell. And Acer and Dell will sell these PCs for under $300. Teachers that manage PCs for students can distribute software through Microsoft’s tools. And Windows 10 S will compete directly against the Google ChromeOS and Chromebook laptops, which are often provided to students.

What if students need software that is outside of the Windows app store? Windows 10 Pro is available as an upgrade for a one-time fee of $49. Windows 10 Pro allows users to install apps outside of the Windows Store. But you will not be able to go back to Windows 10 S after upgrading to Windows 10 Pro.

HP And Acer Reveal Window 10 S Computers For $299

Both HP and Acer have actually already announced laptops running on Windows 10 S. These laptops cost under $299.

The new HP laptop is known as the ProBook x360 Education Edition, which has the following specs: 11.6-inch display, 1366×768 resolution, Intel Celeron processor, 64GB storage and 4GB RAM. With the full version of Windows 10, this laptop typically costs $329.

And Acer is selling a new version of the TravelMate Spin B1 Convertible. The TravelMate Spin B1 Convertible is a touchscreen laptop and has the following specs: 11.6-inch screen, 1080p display, Intel Celeron processor, 4GB RAM, 64GB storage. The version of this laptop that has the full version of Windows 10 sells for $399.99. And the Windows 10 S version of the laptop comes with a stylus.

New Surface Laptop

This is the first time that Microsoft announced new computers since the Surface Book and Surface Studio last year. Microsoft also announced its own new hardware called the Surface Laptop and it appears to be similar to the MacBook Air notebook. Rather than having a reversible hinge like the Surface Book, the Surface Laptop has a clamshell design.

The Surface Laptop has up to 14.5 hours in battery life. As a comparison, MacBook Pros have an 8-hour battery life and iPads have a 10-hour battery life.

Interestingly, Microsoft decided not to go with a USB-C port in the Surface Laptop. The Surface Laptop actually has a single USB-A port, an SD Card slot and a Mini DisplayPort. The keyboard is backlit and it is made with Alcantara materials, making it spill-resistant and easy to clean.

The screen on the Surface Laptop is 13.5-inch with a 1080p PixelSense Display (3.4 million pixels) 3:2 aspect ratio. And the edge-to-edge display is covered in Corning Gorilla Glass 3. Microsoft said that the display is the “thinnest LCD touch model ever created and put into a laptop.”

Inside of the Surface Laptop is either Intel’s 7th-generation Core i5 or i7 processors. The memory starts at 4GB and it maxes out at 16GB. And the SSD size starts at 128GB and maxes out at 1TB.

There aren’t any speaker grills in the casing of the Surface Laptop. Microsoft has “vapor chambers” in the chassis to keep the Surface Laptop temperature down. And the speakers are built beneath the keyboard so sound travels through the base of the Surface Laptop.

The weight of the Surface Laptop is 2.76 pounds. At the thickest point, the Surface Laptop is 14.47mm. The Surface Laptop also supports the Surface Pen stylus. And it is available in four colors: Burgundy, Platinum, Cobalt Blue, and Graphite Gold.

The starting price of the Surface Laptop is $999. Pre-orders have already started, but it will not deliver or hit retail shelves until June 15th.

New Features For Minecraft: Education Edition

At the event, Microsoft also announced new features for Minecraft: Education Edition. Minecraft: Education Edition will have a new “Code Builder” tool to help students learn how to code. As the code is written, new structures are built in the game.

Students will be able to utilize code-building tools through platforms like Tynker and ScratchX. And Microsoft’s own MakeCode open-source platform for learning JavaScript is also built into Code Builder.

Microsoft will offer a year of Minecraft: Education Edition for free along with Office 365 for Education with Microsoft Teams its new PCs. Plus schools that are running Pro versions of Windows in the classroom can switch to Windows 10 S free. The regular cost of Minecraft: Education Edition is $5 per person per year.

Microsoft Teams Update

Microsoft also announced new features for the Microsoft Teams app. Microsoft Teams will allow students and teachers to collaborate on projects within a chat room environment. It also has updated device management software for teachers and virtual reality initiatives. Teachers can create a dashboard for their students with lessons and tests. And students will be able to comment on those items. There is support for emoji, stickers and GIFs built into the app too.

New Microsoft Surface Arc Mouse

At the event, Microsoft also announced a new $79.99 Surface Arc Mouse. The Surface Arc Mouse supports Bluetooth 4.0 and has two buttons. The new Surface Arc Mouse also has a bendable tail and is considered a “travel companion for your Surface.”

Windows 10 S Defaults To Edge And Bing

One of the downsides of Windows 10 S is that it will not allow users to change the default web browser to Microsoft Edge. And the default search provider on Edge cannot be changed from Bing.com. You will still be able to download other browsers from the Windows Store, but it cannot be changed to the default.

Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox is not in the Windows Store. But Opera Mini can be downloaded from the Windows Store.

“Microsoft Edge is the default web browser on Microsoft 10 S. You are able to download another browser that might be available from the Windows Store, but Microsoft Edge will remain the default if, for example, you open an .htm file. Additionally, the default search provider in Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer cannot be changed,” said Microsoft in a support page.

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