Why the New Surface 3 Just Might Replace the iPad in Classrooms

The term “iPad killer” gets thrown around pretty frequently these days, but the newly announced Surface 3 has a pretty good shot to be the device to take that title.

 

Previously, Microsoft had two versions of their Surface tablets, the Pro, which ran with full Windows, and RT, which ran a much more slimmed down version of Windows and, while it came with Office, couldn’t run most Windows applications outside of what was on their incredibly bare app store. RT was a disaster, and Microsoft acknowledged that with the announcement of the Surface 3.

 

At an entry point of $499 (the same as the iPad Air 2), the Surface 3, which releases in May, comes with the full Windows 8.1 operating system and will get a free Windows 10 upgrade when it becomes available later in 2015. While many schools currently opt to go with the iPad or Chromebook for the classroom, the Surface 3 will likely become a major competitor. Here’s a quick breakdown:

 

Device

iPad Air 2

Surface 3

Chromebook

Base Price

$499

$499

Varies

Operating System

iOS

Windows 8.1 (Full)

Chrome OS

Base Storage

16 GB

64 GB

Varies

Ecosystem

App Store

All Windows Applications

Browser Apps

Document Editing

 Pages, Office apps (Limited), Apple suite

Office (Full)

Google Docs, Office Online

Keyboard

Wireless Keyboard/Keyboard Cover (Sold separately)

Surface Keyboard Cover (Sold separately)

Built into Laptop

 

While it will be very compelling to integrate the Office suite of apps and OneDrive capabilities into teaching practice, the Surface 3 will need the accompanying keyboard ($129.99) and probably pen ($49.99) to take full advantage. Granted, iPad still has the best marketplace for education apps geared for tablet use, the Surface 3 will have all Windows based applications available. Speaking as someone who has owned every Surface device released so far, I can say that the Surface Pro 3 and Surface 3 were the devices that Microsoft has been aiming for. Microsoft hasn’t done the best job at marketing towards teachers and schools in the past, but hopefully they see education as a market to focus on with the release of this new device.