Microsoft has shrugged off the threat from competitors Google and Apple in the education space, insisting focusing on students, not competition, is more important.
Back in April, analyst Forrester said a string of new Windows 10 updates for the education space was driven by Microsoft's desire to claw back customers in the schools space, after losing out to those who had their head turned by Google and its Chromebooks.
Speaking to CRN at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in Toronto, Microsoft's vice president for worldwide education Anthony Salcito said this is not the case.
"We've got to get through what is typically what reporters will say is Chromebooks versus Windows," he said. "That's really not the issue. We're going to be the company who is standing first on how do we drive the right impact on students and outcomes. When I think about the competition facing us as a company, I don't think about Google, Apple or Chromebooks, I think about student graduation rates, employability rates, how to keep teachers in the profession, how do we drive the schools to maximise impact.
"That's what we're struggling with and the whole industry needs to struggle with it. One technology will come and be used, and we're thinking obviously about how to make Windows a great platform for schools, but we want to broaden our focus beyond the next device and think differently as a company. I will tell you that there is no company which is ahead of us in that space, or is thinking as deeply as us about how do we make an impact in classrooms."
"We've got to get through what is typically what reporters will say is Chromebooks versus Windows"
Brexit blues or Brexit boom?
The education space, like all areas in the public sector, often struggles with budget constraints and limited resources. In the UK, in the immediate aftermath of the decision to leave the EU, one analyst said the public sector will be hard hit by Brexit, with the education space affected severely.
Salcito said that economic turmoil, such as that brought about by Brexit, can be an opportunity for Microsoft and its partners to help save schools money. He stressed that this is the case across the world, and not exclusive to Brexit.
"I think there is an opportunity, frankly," he said. "Education has been budget constrained throughout its transition but there's an opportunity Microsoft can provide to help save money by improving efficiencies - there is a lot of waste on back-end processes. There are things we can do to streamline education and we continue to provide most core tools for students and teachers for free.
"We're thinking differently. The reality with situations like Brexit and global environments we're in now is getting students ready for the workplace which is changing, shifting and requires new skills. It's an area were very focused on. Deepening the readiness for students to become entrepreneurs and job creators is increasingly important for the UK and other countries as well.
"Increasingly as trade becomes more vital to success in the UK, as Brexit has defined, I think that creates an opportunity. That's true in every country."
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