Microsoft is gearing up for a software and hardware event on May 2, where it will unveil new Windows 10 and Surface offerings for the education sector.
The rumor mill has long been churning in anticipation of the Surface Pro 5, the elusive Surface Phone, and the next-generation Surface Book, but before any of these beasts hit the market, it seems that Microsoft is preparing some education offerings.
Microsoft's upcoming event set for early next month carries the hashtag #MicrosoftEDU and targets the education sector, which means we should see some affordable and enticing options for the classroom.
Microsoft's Joe Belfiore Is Really Back
Microsoft's Joe Belfiore, who is in charge of the team building mobile and PC versions of Windows, has been suspiciously quiet since he returned to work late last year after taking a year-long break to spend time with his family.
Belfiore is seen as the poster boy for Microsoft's efforts on the mobile side of things and his prolonged radio silence has been puzzling fans thirsty for more Surface hardware. Nevertheless, Belfiore started chirping again on Twitter recently and he's also been talking to Mashable about his return and responsibilities after the long break.
Microsoft has not specified just what Belfiore's new role is within the company, but the Mashable interview does refer to Belfiore as an "education sponsor and advocate in the Windows team." No official title is known for now, but Belfiore's new role reportedly involves helping the company cater to the education market.
Veteran reporter Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet notes that Belfiore's new responsibility is in fact to lead a new Windows Engagement Team that would directly report to Windows boss Terry Myerson. Foley's theory makes sense and it sounds more plausible than the vague job description without a title, but it's unconfirmed for now.
Microsoft Education Efforts
Be it as it may, one thing's for sure: Belfiore is now at least partly involved in Microsoft's education efforts and it will be interesting to see what comes of it. The interview for Mashable emerged just one day before Microsoft announced its upcoming May event focused on education, and it frequently hinted at Chromebooks and Chrome.
Google currently has a big share of the education market thanks to the inexpensive Chromebooks it offers in collaboration with various OEMs, as well as the Chrome OS software.
Mashable asked Belfiore whether Microsoft plans to make a Windows 10 version that would directly rival Chrome OS, and the response was intriguing.
"If you mean an OS that doesn't run rich Windows apps, then no," said Belfiore. The answer leaves room for interpretation and suggests that Microsoft is working on some Chrome OS competitor, just not in a way that would imply tuning down Windows 10 apps.
Microsoft already tried offering a watered-down version of Windows a few years back, when it launched Windows RT alongside the fully fledged Windows 8, but that didn't go so well. Windows RT wasn't targeted at the education market, but it still served as a valuable lesson.
Windows 10 Cloud
An intriguing new Windows 10 Cloud leak started making rounds recently, heralding an exciting new Windows 10 variant that seems poised to take on Chrome OS. Microsoft is expected to unleash Windows 10 Cloud as a cheap or even free alternative for PC makers who want to build devices with the new OS on board.
Microsoft has yet to make things official, but Windows 10 Cloud and education will likely be among the highlights of the May 2 event. That said, the company is not expected to announce the highly anticipated Surface Pro 5 or Surface Phone at the event.
Instead, Microsoft might unveil a Surface 4 with ARM under the hood. The Surface 3 launched roughly two years ago as a more affordable and less powerful alternative to the Surface Pro 3, and a successor could well cater to the education market especially if it comes with Windows 10 Cloud on board.
As always, we'll keep you up to date as soon as we learn more.