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.
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.
"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.