Microsoft unveils Surface Laptop targeting Apple’s student market

Microsoft recently unveiled its glossy new Surface Laptop and an updated version of Windows 10 intended to appeal to the education sector which Apple has strength in. The laptop, which is set to be released in June, will sell for $999.

The 13.5-inch Surface Laptop is capable of 14.5 hours of battery life and weights just 2.76 pounds. It has a fabric keyboard and comes in four colors including cobalt blue and burgundy. The model is different from Microsoft’s Surface Book unveiled in 2015 and sells for $1,499. The market for the Surface Laptop, according to Microsoft executive Panos Panay in charge of Surface products, is for students who would otherwise buy Apple MacBooks.

Speaking at a launch event in New York, Panay said: “A lot of students use MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros,” and stressed that Microsoft’s new laptop is thinner and lighter than these Apple devices and has a longer battery life, which is ideal for students.

Microsoft also announced Windows 10 S, which is a streamlined version of the operating system designed for classrooms. The operating system features a faster login experience ideal for students and only runs applications downloaded from the Windows Store to ensure security.

The Windows 10 S will be available in devices by Samsung, Toshiba, HP and Dell this summer, starting at $189. These affordable devices will place Microsoft at a competitive level with Google’s affordable Chromebook devices.

Microsoft has a mission to “democratize the educational opportunity for every student,” said chief executive Satya Nadella speaking about the product announcements. But ultimately, Microsoft wants to be a part of the lucrative education market. With its new products, Microsoft could lure a new generation of consumers to its brand.

Google’s Chromebook was launched six years ago which runs its own operating system of Windows. The device soon became a popular product in the broader PC market. Research firm IDC reported in April that the commercial PC marker “came out strong” in the first quarter of 2017 “mostly backed by Chromebooks.”