Windows PCs gain share in K-12 in the US, but Chromebooks still dominate

Sales of sub-$300 Windows PCs is helping Microsoft grow Windows' share in the US K-12 education market. But, internationally, Chrome OS' and Android's shares are up.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

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Futuresource Consulting's latest figures for PC and tablet shipments in the K-12 education space are a mixed bag for Microsoft and Windows.

Credit: Futuresource Consulting

Globally, sales of mobile PCs to K-12 institutions grew from 26.3 million in 2016 to 29.2 million in 2017, according to Futuresource's March 6 report.

In the US, Windows' share of institutional purchases of mobile computing devices (notebooks, Chromebooks, and tablets, but no desktops) in the K-12 education market grew to 25.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017. Windows' share was 22.3 percent in Q3 2017.

In 2017, the category experiencing the largest rise (6.5 percent, year over year) was the sub-$300 category, and attributable largely to Microsoft and its Windows OEM partners, Futuresource said.

Windows was the only OS tracked by Futuresource to make gains from last quarter to this quarter in the K-12 space in the US. Chrome OS' share was down sequentially (though only slightly) from 59.8 percent in Q3 to 59.6 percent in Q4. Apple iOS' share was down more significantly, to 10.6 percent, and Apple macOS' share to 3.5 percent.

In the rest of the world, excluding the US however, Windows' share dropped from Q3 to Q4, while Chrome OS', Android's, and iOS' shares rose.

Windows PCs purchased by institutions for use in K-12 was 60.8 percent in Q4 2017, down from 66.3 percent, Futuresource found. Android-based devices were at 20.7 percent share, up from 14.6 in the previous quarter. Chrome OS's share rose from 7.8 percent to 8.7 percent, quarter to quarter. The share of iOS devices also grew in the rest of the world, from 6.1 percent in Q3 to 7.4 percent in Q4.

There are some additional warning signs for Windows on the international K-12 education front.

"Despite its global market leadership, Windows has conceded share in some key markets 2017. In the Asia Pacific region, several large regional and national projects have opted for Android based tablet devices, placing pressure on Windows share," the Futuresource analysts noted.

And even though Chromebooks are still a US phenomenon more than an international one, that may not always be the case, Futuresource said.

"Chromebook OS is continuing to grow its presence in other international markets. The Canadian market and the advanced markets of Northern Europe and Australasia are each seeing the rising adoption of Chromebooks in schools. Globally, the Chrome OS powered 31.3 percent of mobile PC devices shipped to K-12 schools in 2017," today's report noted.

Microsoft and its OEMs are continuing to make education a bigger focus for the company, moving forward, as evident by recent Windows-related announcements at the Bett education conference.

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