More on Microsoft’s Chromebook nightmare, Miguel Helft:
But a story close to home gave me reason to think that Chromebooks are the latest headache for Microsoft, which has struggled to gain traction in phones and tablets at a time when growth in the PC market has stalled. At the public elementary school that my two sons attend in Oakland, the parent teacher association, on whose board I serve, recently decided to purchase 36 Chromebooks for students in the fourth grade. A few weeks later, we received news that the school district would purchase an additional 70 or so Chromebooks — and would upgrade the Wi-Fi in the school so all the new machines could work simultaneously. This allows half of fourth and fifth graders to work on computers at any one time, if their teachers decide it’s appropriate.
What was striking was not so much that a school in an urban district would purchase 100 Chromebooks, but that there was never any discussion of purchasing Windows machines. When an alternative to the Chromebooks was discussed, the conversation was about Macs — of which there are several in the school library, media lab, and some classrooms — or iPads.
While only anecdotal, this sure sounds like the ultimately disaster scenario for Microsoft.
This is troubling for a couple of reasons that don’t really concern Microsoft at all. It makes sense that schools, which are perpetually strapped for cash, would look to Chromebooks for a solution to their computing problems. Chromebooks enable kids to type papers, do research, and create presentations, sure. But, businesses are not adopting Chromebooks at the same rate. I worry that kids will lack proficiency in Microsoft Office, and other pieces of Microsoft enterprise software, and thus suffer after high school.