Low income Texas school district chooses Windows products over Google Chromebooks

Products based on Microsoft's computing platforms have been chosen by a low-income school district in Texas and an educational academy in London due to the features provided at reasonable costs.

The Willis Independent School District in Texas has revealed that it has chosen the Windows 8.1-powered ASUS Transformer Book T100 tablets to make their students ready for the modern world when they graduate.

According to the Director of Technology at Willis, Deborah Menefee, the school district contemplated ordering Chromebooks, however, they were unimpressed by the restrictions that came with the cloud-powered devices. She added that, "They (students) want to know where Word is or where Excel is because that's what they're used to using."

The Twickenham Academy of London, on the other hand, has deployed Microsoft's Surface tablets in order to prepare the students with "the tools that they'll actually be expected to use in the workplace now and in the future."

This isn't the first time that Microsoft's familiar software and established ecosystem has worked in its favour. Earlier in the year, Miami's public school system ordered 100,000 Windows 8-based devices for its students. Even the German government retracted its decision of using OpenOffice instead of Microsoft Office due to users' affinity to the latter. A school district in LA canceled its massive iPad order after realizing the limited nature of computing possible with the device.

Source: Microsoft | Image via Microsoft

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My two cents is that the price paid may have been a large discount for the amount purchased. may have played part in this.

buying chromebooks for kids is the worst thing you can do to them. making them dumber than what they already are in this generation. here kids, this is computer. all you can do with it to get on internet and check your emails and chat, and go to facebook and bunch of other sites. however, long ago there used to be computers that one of the things you could do with it to get on internet. you could program with it. design things with it. but don't worry the hard days are over. you can now have fun and surf the web.

How is that a stupid purchase?

They don't need 15" Alienware gaming laptops to do school work, all they needed was small and light hybrid machines which is exactly what they got.

I tend to agree that 10" aint big enough to work. It's great to read and watch video but to work nah. I consider 13" as the very minimum.

She added that, "They (students) want to know where Word is or where Excel is because that's what they're used to using."

She continued, "I mean, look, we're a school. We're not here to teach our students new things or encourage them in critical thinking. We like to keep it 'Old School' around here. The Big Blue E is how you get on Facebook and the Blue W and Green E are for office work and printing things."

The reality is that the world still runs on Windows--the corporate world, at least. If you graduate from college and don't know how to use Windows... and/or Office, you better find a way to learn it quick. Maybe you can avoid Windows in a few fields--like advertising--but even there, probably not totally.

Chromebooks are fine for a consumer who only wants to surf the web... but if you want a job someday, it's simply a better investment for schools to buy Microsoft products.

LaP said,
Those students would be better with real laptops (Mac or Windows both are better than hybrids).

With the hybrids, they can read an e-textbook or a website easily anywhere, rather than just where there's a place to set the laptop. And then they can add the keyboard for typing when they need to.

techbeck said,

This is no longer a MS only world. Yea, MS is still dominant by far but they are getting more and more competition more than ever and people are looking for more alternatives.

At least on the Office part, I seriously doubt that anyone would be able to offer a REAL alternative to it. There's really no competition here. Also, there's no REAL competition on the Windows part either, if you look at market share and other things. So, at least with these 2 products, this IS a MS only world so far.

If this was 5+ years ago, I would agree with you. There is more competition now than before. Google is making slow headway it seems but doesnt mean they cannot take off one day. Just like comments on Neowin saying WP could just take off one day. And the opposite could happen as well. Who knows.

I personally make it a habit to learn what the competition has to offer. I have products from most all leading companies, Google/Apple/MS/Linux...and try to stay up to date as much as possible. Not perfect, but who is.

Edited by techbeck, Sep 3 2014, 9:15pm :

True enough... but Microsoft's great advantage is that it is entrenched in the enterprise; and unlike the consumer market (which is fickle), the enterprise is conservative, practical, and resistant to change. In short, Windows is getting the job done... and the costs and risks of migrating to something else are just too great... and so they stick with Windows.

The phone/mobile market is different. Unlike the desktop market, where apps cost $50 - $2000 (Adobe Creative Suite), consumers and businesses have very little invested in mobile apps. I'd estimate that most consumers probably haven't invested more than $5 in apps... in total. With so little invested, it's easy to switch mobile OSes, particularly if your services can follow you.

Agreed. If anything changes, it will be a while. Just things are moving faster in the tech world these days and everyone wants a piece of each others pie. So anything can happen.

Nothing will ever change in the corporate world. AMD could make a CPU that is 20% better for 20% less than intel and companies would still buy Intel. But schools are not there to make mindless drones. It's important to know the Microsoft way cause this is what is used in the corporate office world but it's important to know what is used elsewhere too (consumer and server markets). I've seen so much computer technician graduates knowing Microsoft only and when they are hired they fail at using anything that is not Microsoft and then they can't stop complaining at work about the company using Java or nix servers or making the web site standard so it works on all browsers etc. I'll be honest i would not buy Chromebook for any student. It's not good for work and i've yet to see anyone use a Chromebook in the wild. But i would not buy a windows 8 10" tablet hybrid either. Also i do hope the shool have some iPad and Android devices around and some Linux and Mac computers too so the kids know that there's something else outside the Microsoft world cause honestlyi had enough with those graduates not knowing how to use nix terminal and do some Java work in Eclipse.

Neowin really needs to cut it out with the pro-Microsoft propaganda.

We're talking about ONE school district of ONE county of ONE state of ONE country adopting Microsoft products, followed up with reference to a single academy in London. This is a non-story.

If we had an article every time Apple or Google managed a similar thing the frontpage would be completely overrun. One can only assume Microsoft is paying money for articles like this, in which case Neowin should disclose that.

Now that Microsoft's hardware partners have finally caught up with the software (of Windows 8/Metro), and now that the initial "wow factor" of tablets have worn off, consumers (and businesses) are waking up to the fact that Windows 8 hybrids and 2-in-1 are simply a better value than the competition. They are more powerful and more versatile than anything else on the market... and save you the expense of having to buy (and lug around) two different devices.

Are you serious? You try to make it sound only a single company chose MS over an alternative. There is a ton of examples of it. Yes this is a non-story and not really worthy of comment honestly but you also make this out to be a non-Microsoft centered news site. This is a predominantly MS news site. Saying it is propaganda is kinda being sensationalist and reactionary. Give me a break.

blackjezuz said,
Are you serious? You try to make it sound only a single company chose MS over an alternative.

Strawman. My point, which was very clear, is that we don't need an article every time a single school or school district adopts Microsoft products.

laserfloyd said,
Telling NeoWIN to stop being Pro MS is like telling 9to5mac to stop being pro Apple.

There's a difference between organically covering more Microsoft stories to appeal to the audience and shameless shilling, which is what we're seeing here. Even Microsoft fans admit that this is a complete non-story.

Not trashing anyone here but, I'm neither Chromebook for or against nor windows for nor against. as a bread winner for my family, I look at possibilities and value. I'm in a dilemma now that I'm asking myself, do I get my younger daughter a surface or Chromebook? while surface has better or expanded opportunities, I'm Not buying my daughter a system for playing games when she should be doing homework. I want her to have a system that can allow her to research her homework, get on her infinite campus for students and allow for her to print her homework.

surface pro or a Chromebook. not 100% for sure which yet

I'm curious - why not an RT? Both the 1 and 2 pack very appealing battery life. Being thinner and lighter is also going to be very important for a portable device, especially in the hands of a young student. Then again, I'm ignorant of what type of study is involved - she may well find the digitizer of the Pro to be of substantial benefit.

People need to learn the competition as well even if they don't use it. More competition and more products theses days than ever. Some companies may use one product while others use something different. You are limiting yourself if you only know one product.

techbeck said,
People need to learn the competition as well even if they don't use it.

That's exactly what this school district did. They learned what Chromebooks offered, and they felt it wasn't good enough.

TMYW said,

That's exactly what this school district did. They learned what Chromebooks offered, and they felt it wasn't good enough.

Not what I meant. I was replying to these...

"They (students) want to know where Word is or where Excel is because that's what they're used to using."

\
"the tools that they'll actually be expected to use in the workplace now and in the future."

This is no longer a MS only world. Yea, MS is still dominant by far but they are getting more and more competition more than ever and people are looking for more alternatives. You are much more likely to get a job and adapt to a position if you know at least the basics about other products. Doesnt take much and there are a lot of companies who have made the switch to Google and believe it or not, are very pleased with their decision.

And personally, I am much more likely to talk to someone and respect their views if they know what they are talking about. Not just because they dont like a certain company or what others/media have spoon fed them.

Competition is nothing like it used to be. And MS realizes this and has responded to Google's cheap systems with their own, and dropped their storage price when Google did theirs. And it is just a win win for everyone when they compete like this...especially when it comes to cost savings.

EDIT: This really goes for whatever profession you are in. Know what the competition has to offer and stay informed.

Edited by techbeck, Sep 3 2014, 9:17pm :

techbeck said,
People need to learn the competition as well even if they don't use it. More competition and more products theses days than ever. Some companies may use one product while others use something different. You are limiting yourself if you only know one product.

Chromebooks by design just cannot compete. They're too limited, and as such it tough to choose them over more complete and beneficial devices.

Dot Matrix said,

Chromebooks by design just cannot compete. They're too limited, and as such it tough to choose them over more complete and beneficial devices.

Read my last post....

techbeck said,

Read my last post....

What of the competition? The Chromebooks didn't meet the academic goals of the school. What good is spending the money for these when they won't be utilized?

Dot Matrix said,

What of the competition? The Chromebooks didn't meet the academic goals of the school. What good is spending the money for these when they won't be utilized?

I said people should LEARN The competition. I didn't say purchase. Otherwise, your opinion means nothing when trying to hold a conversation with someone.

techbeck said,

I said people should LEARN The competition. I didn't say purchase. Otherwise, your opinion means nothing when trying to hold a conversation with someone.

And how do they do that without purchasing them?

Dot Matrix said,

And how do they do that without purchasing them?

Going by the quotes in the article I was replying to....you dont have to purchase Google Docs to use it. The quote I was replying to is that students are used to seeing Word and Excel and would be looking for that. A lot of the Chrome OS offerings can be used on a normal PC. For a Chomebook or Chrome PC, it is more about the software then it is the hardware. As long a you understand it is supposed to be used with an internet connection.

Couple high level execs where I work drank the kool-aid and now only use CBs. I find it idiotic but they seem happy. To each their own but I would respect their opinion more than lots here.

techbeck said,

This is no longer a MS only world. Yea, MS is still dominant by far but they are getting more and more competition more than ever and people are looking for more alternatives.

What is this? The tech version of "Teach the Controversy"?

Sorry, but these kids are lucky to have computers at all and this school district doesn't have to luxury of exposing these kids to alternatives beyond what is most likely going to give them the experience to succeed in the real world.

techbeck said,

You are much more likely to get a job and adapt to a position if you know at least the basics about other products. Doesnt take much and there are a lot of companies who have made the switch to Google and believe it or not, are very pleased with their decision.

So what are you proposing that they do? Buy Chromebooks anyway on the off-chance that some company they interview with would pick somebody with Google Docs experience over somebody with MS Office experience?

A lot of these kids aren't even going to be able to go to college, and for entry-level jobs not having to train you can be the difference between your getting the job and your not getting the job. For a typical clerical position, somebody with proficiency in Office is going to be much more attractive as a hire than somebody who's merely familiar with both Office and Google Docs.

Using any software at all gets people comfortable using computers, and that in itself is a good thing. This is not like programmers exposing themselves to different programming languages so they can somehow get a better understanding of their primary programming language. In the developer world, having a familiarity with a wide range of languages never compensates for a lack of expertise in the language you're being hired for.

You never have the luxury of experiencing alternatives if you're not a expert in at least one thing.

Wow. Talk about just not getting it. Know the competition period. Otherwise your are ignorant on what you are talking about and unfit to voice an opinion. And my comments to a couple sections in the op.

techbeck said,
Wow. Talk about just not getting it. Know the competition period.

Swell. It's a nice general statement that sorta sounds profound like "keep your friends close and your enemies closer", but it really has zero relevance to this situation.

Otherwise your are ignorant on what you are talking about and unfit to voice an opinion. And my comments to a couple sections in the op.

No, it's not being ignorant. It's being realistic. I don't have some idealistic bent because I don't like Microsoft's hegemony in the office productivity space.

The very definition of ignorant is lacking knowledge or being uneducated about something. So yea, someone talks about something they know nothing about, they are ignorant. And its not a bad thing. I dont know a lot about cars or home construction so I am ignorant in that respect. But I wont go off and have a convo claiming I do.

And on that note, this convo is done. :) I gave my opinion on the OP and the great thing about opinions, I can have my own.

techbeck said,
The very definition of ignorant is lacking knowledge or being uneducated about something. So yea, someone talks about something they know nothing about, they are ignorant.

1. You say "People need to learn the competition".
2. I say "The school did just that."
3. You say "But what about the children?"
4. I say "They're better served by learning one thing really well. At this stage, learning about too many things might actually be a detriment."
5. You say "Not learning about the competition is ignorant."
6. I say again "They're better served by learning one thing really well. At this stage, learning about too many things might actually be a detriment."

And its not a bad thing. I dont know a lot about cars or home construction so I am ignorant in that respect. But I wont go off and have a convo claiming I do.

Are you just making a blanket statement to sound profound, or are you claiming that this school somehow did something wrong?

techbeck said,
And on that note, this convo is done. :)

Good. It sounds like you just want to go around in circles.


Pot meet kettle. Sorry, couldn't resist. ;) And you were wrong on several of your points and obviously didnt understand what I was getting at. Which is fine...easy to do on the internet.

techbeck said,
Pot meet kettle. Sorry, couldn't resist. ;) And you were wrong on several of your points and obviously didnt understand what I was getting at. Which is fine...easy to do on the internet.

I know what your point is, and I showed why it's irrelevant. Pretending that I didn't understand that your point is isn't going to change anything.

Is it good that Microsoft knows the competition? Yes, and they do.
Is it good that the school district knows the competition? Yes, and they do.
Is it good that the students know the competition? No, it's more of a unnecessary distraction.

Damn, Dell, that's right in your backyard. This is what you get for messing around with Chromebooks instead of coming out with a competitor to the T100.

"low income". Brand-new laptops for students. Does not compute.

I can understand where they are coming from though. MS Office IS the defacto business product suite, so it make sense that students should learn that over Google Docs.

spacer said,
"low income". Brand-new laptops for students. Does not compute.

They're likely getting these at a volume discount rather than at premium (i.e rip-off prices) like the LA Unified School District did when they signed that deal with Apple.

JHBrown said,
I don't know. Low income areas benefit more from this than middle-income, or high income areas.

I agree. Students in those areas may not have access to a computer at home.

Having laptops can also save the school money. Rather than having to invest in Computer Labs, the laptops can infact be taken to any classroom that they are needed for at that time.

When I worked at my local school board, many schools had mobile racks of Netbooks for this same use. There were 2 labs for the school with good desktops, but the netbooks would let any class do their work without the need for a new lab, or forcing another class out of theirs.