Chromebooks taken to school: More than a million sold to schools in last quarter

Chromebooks taken to school: More than a million sold to schools in last quarter

Summary: If you're wondering why Microsoft seems to be concerned about Chromebooks, the latest milestone from Google tells the story.


Chromebooks, you either love them or hate them. The low-cost laptops running Chrome OS from Google are appealing to consumers, and the education segment especially likes them. The latest word from Google indicates schools bought more than a million Chromebooks in the last quarter.

chromebooks - samsung-acer-hp
(Image: Google)

Microsoft recently announced a push for low-cost Windows laptops in the $199 range. The initiative is directly aimed to counter the sales of Chromebooks, including sales to schools. Chromebooks are a perfect fit for many school systems given the low cost (typically around $200) per laptop. They can often be deployed using existing budgets, avoiding the long drawn-out process of solicitation for grants.

I suspect that once a school district has a positive experience with Chromebooks, Windows 8 will soon be forgotten.

Google's program for getting Chromebooks in schools is also attractive to districts given the turn-key nature of the process. When Chromebooks stop working, Google replaces them without additional cost. It's basically a maintenance program wrapped up in the sale of the Chromebooks.

This eliminates a big hassle that usually accompanies the deployment of laptops to schools. Students are hard on the devices, and school districts can count on a percentage of laptops having problems during the school year. Organizations don't have to worry about repairs nor replacements as Google has their back. The auto-update nature of Chrome OS eliminates another support cost for schools.

That hasn't been addressed by Microsoft yet, so having partners offer $200 laptops for schools is only one piece of the puzzle. Someone will have to champion a turn-key program like Google's to have any hope of knocking the Chromebook out of the classroom.

David Andrade, CIO for the Bridgeport Public Schools district in Connecticut, shared how well the deployment of 9,000 Chromebooks has gone in his district. Like many public school systems, Bridgeport was strapped for cash and the turn-key program for maintenance made Chromebooks affordable.

"The affordability and easy maintenance of Chromebooks clinched the deal – we could buy three Chromebooks for the price of a single desktop computer and the district’s small IT team wouldn’t have to struggle to keep up with the repairs and updates on aging PCs."

The economics made it possible for Bridgeport to initially assign a Chromebook to every high school student. This is significant, as according to Andrade 95 percent of students in the district receive free or reduced price lunches.

Chromebook sales to schools are not slowing down, and Microsoft is correct in seeing them as a threat to Windows 8. I suspect that once a school district has a positive experience with Chromebooks, Windows 8 will be forgotten.

Additional Chromebook coverage: 

Topics: Mobility, Google, Laptops, Microsoft, Windows 8

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  • That's Our Experience As Well

    Our family's Acer Chromebooks (a C710 and two C720Ps) have proven to be light, fast, maintenance free, and virtually indestructable compared to our old Windows 7 PCs and laptops.

    The C720Ps provide a multi-touch screen for $279 each (!), while the C710 cost under $200 and is running a full install of Ubuntu simultaneous to Chrome OS (not dual boot or VM) for our son the CS major. Most of the newer apps work offline just fine now, and Android app support has been announced in the upcoming OS update.

    Quite remarkable devices. Recommended.
    • Hi James, just wondering....

      for how long this no cost replacement of laptops is good for? I could see possibly a year, but I would think after the school year was up so wouldn't the warranty?

      Would this be correct?

      • I'm George, Not James...

        ...but I googled the answer for you anyway. ;-)

        The warranty depends on the device / vendor selected, but a common proposal seems to include 1 year full and 3 year limited hardware warranty on Chromebook devices as part of a school package that includes the management console (for provisioning, classroom group management, app and website whitelisting / blacklisting, etc.), teacher hardware and educational resources, and peripherals such as printers, access nodes, and classroom displays.

        From the numerous case studies I read (from Google and independently), Chrome's perceived advantages to educators go far beyond low price and simple maintenance. If those studies apply broadly, I just don't see cheap Windows netbooks as being competitive in the education market. And I think Microsoft correctly perceives this as a threat, since children who grow up using Chromebooks will influence their families now, and will later more readily consider non-Windows options in the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) workplace for many job categories.

        So perhaps the biggest change at school isn't Chromebooks per se, but the radical idea that you can use whatever platform you prefer for both work and play. Freedom of choice - now that's something worth teaching! :-D
  • Perfect start in computing life ...

    ... a 15 second boot and fast computing to compared to an underpowered windows notebook that takes three minutes to get going ... plus children 'get' wifi, and live on the web.

    A clunky 1990s machine that uses half it's nominal power just to get off the ground, just doesn't have the cool factor. And after about three hours, doesn't have battery power, either.

    The trap that windows fanbois have ALWAYS made, is to compare the cheapest windows machines to Chromebook - any 8 year old knows that's a false comparison. No 'standard', heavy, slow, wimpy notebook can conceivably compare to the performance of a Chromebook. And a million kids aren't complaining.
    • Horrible start...

      The business world is dominated by Microsoft computers, servers, and software. Billions of Windows computers make the business world go around. If you don't have experience in Microsoft products your at a horrible disadvantage.
      Sean Foley
      • Maybe

        I'd never touched a windows machine pre 98.

        Didn't do me any harm, if you're good, you'll adapt.
        What happens if the organization of choice used a truck-load of Linux servers (where they are extremely prevalent)?
      • It's not the Windows environment, as much as Office ...

        ... that makes business "go around". Kids with school-issued Windows laptops are certainly not using full Office, they're using the web and some education-specific apps. Maybe they're using Office 365, but they can access that from a Chromebook as easily as a Windows laptop. So, the lack of a Windows computer really has little (if any) negative effect on kids, with respect to skills carrying over to the business world.
        • Ho! Ho! Ho! Get real.

          "It's not the Windows environment, as much as Office ... that makes business "go around".

          What a pile of hoke.

          Lets get real.

          For months and months all we heard from the Windows 8 detractors and nay-sayers is that Windows 8 is just to different because regular Windows users are "forced" to have to jump from the new start screen to the old style desktop, and that apparently is far too big a change to handle for most people even though the OS is faster, more stable and secure than ever.

          The implication from the Windows haters club is clear and to the point. And the Windows haters implication is; that people are used to using Windows and they like it the way it has been for years SO MUCH that even minor changes are unacceptable and you cannot simply expect people to adapt even to fairly simplistic variations in the way the UI works, even when its as simple as switching from the new start screen to the more familiar desktop. The encourage people to reject the changes and to put their foot down and demand a return to the way Windows has always been.

          The Windows haters club has made it clear that IN THEIR OPINION, Windows 8 is a pretty radical failure because its a little different on the startup than previous editions and nobody wants it or will use it for that reason, and they should not have to adapt to any new ways.

          This isn't me, its the haters, there must be a hundred dozen similar quotes around ZDNet that allude to this general kind of opinion about Windows 8 by some often seen posters who have little to no respect for Windows of Microsoft.

          I think the question and point then arises, "is it not clear then that the countless millions of Windows installs around the world are highly valued by their users, and the Windows haters contend they should and will reject any OS that has notable differences, even a newer, faster, more secure Windows OS?"

          Isnt that the REALITY that the Windows haters are preaching? Windows 8 is different, people will not accept different because what they demand is good old standard Windows? Not Windows 8 with "start screen", and logically not anything else because god knows everything else is even more different in a number of ways then the pre-Windows 8, standard Windows operating systems and UI specifically.

          Now here we see the alternative arguments coming out to play.

          Now we have people saying that this OS or that OS is a perfectly good alternative to Windows and people just need to try and put a little effort into adapting.

          And its not just adapting. Its purposely deciding that your going to go from an OS that can do anything you could ask of a PC to a laptop with a web browser that restricts you pretty much to what can be accomplished in a web browser only.

          Sure, for those people who find that's been fine for them, great. But please don't drape your needs and expectations of a device over other people as if it would for any reason fit them.

          Lets not crow to loud about Chromebooks without putting the whole thing in context.

          One of the only half decent arguments I have heard for Chromebooks is the "school CHILDREN" argument on display here. And ya, so we covered off that million KIDS. Great. Ive also seen a fair number of purchasers of Chromebooks from people who bought them as their second or third device. Its time to get real. Most people do not have a pile of cash around to throw at computing devices.

          Most people would like at LEAST at home access to a full Windows style PC so whatever they may come across that needs a computer, they have at least one that can do anything with the correct software at home. Its like, I know a lot of people who think it would be very very cool to own an Austin Mini as a third car. Because of the fact that they can barely afford their one and only car right now, which is often more than what they need, the fact is that they do need their one and only car from time to time and it means the Austin is quite useless to them beyond for "my third car" kind of reasons.

          And for vast swaths of the earths population, that's what a Chromebook is.

          Its for little kids, and for people who either don't do much of anything with a computer ever, or have so much money they can afford one around the house as "handy device #3".

          Sure, Office is the software program most often used at workplaces generally, but don't tell us on one hand how people demand to see a standard Windows operating system on their computer, and on the other that when it comes to operating systems themselves, it dosnt matter much because people can, and do need to learn how to adapt to new operating systems.

          It always seems to be the way around here, one story is great when the ABM crowd is bashing Windows, then when talking about their OS of choice, the story changes and similar such problems for their OS of choice should just be adapted to and there needs to be some understanding leaning new ways is important and you shouldn't be obsinant.

          Cant have it both ways.

          Believe me, the largest point over all is one thing is for sure, people do not like change much and they sure as hell are not going to rise up as a general segment of the population and embrace Chromebooks much beyond what they have.
          • Microsoft screwed up

            They made a radical change to Windows and made it the default interface.

            The vast majority of people do not like the change and are staying with their current version of Windows, and if they need a new compute hey are looking at alternatives to Windows such as Chrome books or even Macs.

            I believe Microsoft's motive for the change is the 30% of the sale price of apps for the new interface that they get on the app store.
          • hmmm

            First, why use a few well-chosen words when 22 paragraphs will do?

            As or hating change, that may be true of people 30 and over, less true for those in the 20s, and patently false for everyone under 20.

            Primary school children in much of the US have been using Macs for decades. Macs are being replaced by Chromebooks. That shouldn't worry MSFT much. Secondary school children using Chromebooks rather than Windows PCs would be more of a concern for MSFT. College or university students, at least in the better institutions, are exposed to many computing environments.

            It's the old folks (30 and over) who can't countenance change. Interestingly, one place you'll never see Windows tablets mentioned is tablets for children because (1) tablets don't usually have CD/DVD drives, and (2) there's an appalling dearth of Windows Store style children's apps. MSFT has already lost the generation who turned 2 when the first iPads came out. Those children may not be using Chromebooks, but most of them aren't using Windows either.
          • Horse pucky

            I gave a presentation on computer security today in a classroom in the business school of a major research university. I used Powerpoint to develop my presentation, and copied it to a MS-DOS FAT32 USB drive before leaving home. I also uploaded a copy to Google Drive.

            When I got to the classroom, Windows refused to read the USB drive, and asked if I wanted to reformat it. No problem, I'll just download my copy from Google Drive. Chrome browser crashed, and Windows said it couldn't be restarted. No problem, I'll use Firefox, which also crashed and burned in the same way. MSIE, same story.

            When I recounted this story, a friend responded with this tale of woe:

            "I was hooking my wife's PCs up to our wireless inkjet last night.With Windows 7 it took maybe 10 seconds... Add a device, found the printer, clicked on it, drivers installed, printer working.

            With Windows 8, Add a device, Windows 8 offered to add a Sony Bravia TV (which I don't have) as a printer?!?!?!?!?! Didn't find the printer all all. Made me do a Windows search for the Advanced version of Add a printer instead of providing a live link (and why does there need to be an "Advanced version"?) Finally found the printer and then had to sit there for about 5 minutes while the drivers loaded, and loaded, and loaded... @#$%"

            THAT is the reality of Windows, and why K-12 schools, which usually have minimal IT support, are finding Chromebooks such an attractive, and cost-effective solution.
          • I had a friend with a similar tale...

            He was trying to install his HP Color Laser printer to his HP laptop that was running Linux Mint 17. Apparently the OS thought his printer was a Samsung refrigerator and installed that instead. Then when he tried to find the correct driver using Firefox the whole system crashed, same with IE, then with Google Chrome.

            I, on the other hand, simply walked into his home, connected to his wireless network and watched as my Surface, running Windows 8.1 scanned and installed his network printers without any prompting on my part at all.

            PS Mr. Deemed, there is a private 1 to 1 school in Cincinnati that is Surface Pro from top to bottom, every student has one. Odd how well it works for people that are learning but you can't make it work at all. Of course there is a certain doubt on my part as the steps you describe are NOT how you install a printer in Windows 8.

            Never ever heard of problems like you have experienced. Sounds awfully fanciful, I don't use Google drive, OneDrive hasn't ever let me down in years of continuous use, nor has it ever let anyone I know down so forgive me if I take your story with an enormous grain of salt.
            The Heretic
          • I have some doubts about you.....

            because you indicated that MSIE failed to connect the printer on an HP laptop running Linux Mint 17. Since when does IE run natively on Linux?
          • This argument holds for any device

            Good luck with printing in general from a Chromebook to any printer in school environment. As for crushing.... hmmm let see, what will happen with a Chromebook if a an upgrade goes wrong on Wifi and you loose connectivity? or that edge firewall is simply saturated and the pages are loading slowly (like 5 sec per page).

            low on IT is just that... LOW! it will hit you on your head anyways.
          • when was the last time you were in a school environment?

            Clearly not recently. Pupils/students don't print at school because schools don't have the money to spend on such inessentials as paper and ink. At home would be a different matter, but families lacking a home PC are also likely to lack a printer.

            IOW, in this context, printing is almost entirely irrelevant. However, it IS an advantage of Windows over ChromeOS, so Windows fans will bring it up ad nauseum.
          • Most of what you are spouting was said by MS customers...

            Not Linux users.
          • You keep telling yourself that, jesse

            who knows, maybe you'll start to believe it.
          • They ... already ... have.

            Android phones are baby Chromebooks-- and soon, not so baby ones. Don't think the next generation of smartphones can't run Chrome in a VM while still being an Android phone? Think again.

            Simple people want simple computing. They don't care if it's MS Office, as long as it does what Office does -- 80%. Remember the 80/20 rule- that's what MS must overcome.

            Our company is an MS partner; we are not haters.
          • Thanks!

            Turns out, we don't need any additional input to what you have already offered. It is certainly convenient that you are so in touch with what "most people" want that we need look no further than your brilliant insights, to learn the future of computing.
      • times are changing

        The wonderful thing about taking MSFT at its word is that the ribbon UI in Office is so easy to use that a lot of experience isn't necessary. The alternative to taking MSFT at its word requires one to find much of what MSFT has said about the ribbon is pure BS. Which would you say?

        Simple to use Office web apps from Chromebooks. Given the nature of school use of Office (based on what I've seen my 3 kids needing to do), Office web apps are more than adequate. As for business use, those kids who're going to become writers or consultants will pick up Word quick enough. Everyone else needs to learn specific systems developed with Office and other MSFT tools, and schoolwork using Office isn't much help. Those who become programmers will likely learn VS in school, but they don't need to know much about Office.

        If you prefer, an 80-20 rule for the ages: 80% of 20-year-olds know more about most current computing systems than all but 20% of those over 30. This has been so since the 1980s. Teenagers and 20-year-old will learn Office and/or VS quick enough even if they never see either before they're 14.