Microsoft seeks bite of Apple in schools push
Microsoft is working hard to get its tablet into Australian schools in an attempt to curb Apple's iPad foray into classrooms.
The company has been promoting its new Windows 8 software and discounting its Surface tablet heavily this year, before it loses grip on the education market, traditionally a Windows-dominated environment.
It now says four schools across the country have installed the new software or purchased thousands of Windows 8 devices, including Ballarat Grammar in Victoria, All Saints' College in Western Australia, Prince Alfred College in South Australia, and one of Australia's largest schools - Varsity College in Queensland.
In total some 5000 school users have been secured for the new operating system.
Microsoft's academic program manager in Australia, Sean Tierney, said he found secondary schools in particular were looking for computers with stronger computing power, and to move away from single-use app devices.
"The reasons [for changing], that we are getting back from schools, is that apps are not enough," he said. "Sometimes you might need five apps to do one thing that [Microsoft] devices can do in one program."
Microsoft has been discounting heavily for all education institutions, selling Surface RT tablets for as low as $219-$340 less than the estimated retail price.
However, Apple's popularity was still present, Mr Tierney said. Microsoft has received requests from teachers who want to ensure their student's favourite iOS apps are available on Windows, and he said its Marketplace team had been working with developers to make sure they were. "I think what we are going to see is a massive demand for Windows 8 across schools," he predicted.
Microsoft said some schools were using Windows 8 on non-Microsoft devices. All Saints' College in Bull Creek has deployed 500 Samsung devices using Windows 8, while Ballarat Grammar has updated its 1400 computers from Windows 7.
Earlier this month Microsoft's global office announced a $US900 million ($980 million) loss against unsold Surface RT tablets.