Windows 10 Pro vs Chromebook: Does Microsoft fear Google will eat its enterprise lunch?

Microsoft is pitting Windows 10 Pro against Google's Chromebooks in two new video ads.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

The new Microsoft videos may reveal it fears Google's Chromebooks repeating what they have achieved in education in key segments of the business market.

Source: Microsoft/YouTube

Two new Windows 10 Pro videos suggest Microsoft is worried that Chromebooks could do in business what it has already done in schools.

You would think if Microsoft was to compare the Chromebook to any of its operating systems, it would be the locked-down, admin-friendly Windows 10 S. But two new videos from Redmond spotted by The Verge pit Windows 10 Pro against Google-powered Chromebooks.

Microsoft boasts in one that, "Windows 10 Pro outshines Chrome for your business needs", highlighting support for multiple form factors, touch and pen input, Windows Ink, Cortana, security through Windows Hello password-free sign-in, and superior security in Edge.

In a second video Microsoft argues that, "Windows 10 Pro features outclass Chrome in the classroom". This video shows phones, tablets, laptops and desktops with Office 365 apps, its Sway story-telling app, Windows Ink, Cortana, and security features including Windows Hello, two-factor authentication, and hardware-level encryption. Microsoft contends Office 365 on Windows 10 Pro has the advanced features to meet the creativity of teachers and students.

The videos may reveal a fear at Microsoft that it could see a repeat of what's happened in schools to key segments of the business market, at least in the US, despite the introduction of Windows 10 S.

Recent figures from research firm Futuresource Consulting show Google's Chromebook laptops are trouncing rivals with a 58 percent share of laptops in US schools, compared with 22 percent for Windows.

Chromebook shipments to schools passed three million a year in 2013, the year Chromebook sales overtook Windows in the classroom and steadily climbed to nearly eight million in 2016. Meanwhile Windows and Apple shipments are still floating around three million a year in schools.

Microsoft's cut-price Windows 8.1 with Bing for cheap laptops did little to stop Chromebook's growth, and was scuttled in 2015 with the arrival of Windows 10.

Google is winning the war for schools in the US, but there are now signs it could be doing the same in the US commercial PC market.

As IDC noted recently, the US consumer PC market in Q1 2017 was soft, while the commercial market, which includes education, "came out strong, mostly backed by growth of Chromebooks".

It's not clear why Microsoft isn't promoting Windows 10 S, besides early criticism of its restriction to apps in the Windows Store.

In Microsoft's favor, the Chromebook's popularity in schools and growing adoption in business could position Windows 10 S well for these markets.

As ZDNet's Microsoft expert Mary Jo Foley noted in her review of the Surface Laptop running Windows 10 S, it was the Chromebook showed that for many people Win32-only apps aren't necessary, and the Surface Laptop proves this.

More on Windows 10 and Chromebook

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