“Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM”
Hands up if you remember that piece of advice. I know that it was good wisdom a long time ago. But, things have changed. Today’s market includes all kinds of things like the personal computer, the laptop, the smartphone, the tablet, … What’s a person to do? What’s a school system to do?
In education, there was a time when there were essentially two players. Those that made Windows computers and those that didn’t. They made Macintosh computers. The paradigm of what a computer looked like on either platform was pretty similar. You got a device that could run all kinds of software written for that platform. And, with an emulator, you could even run Windows programs on a Macintosh computer.
There were thousands of programs available and providing the best learning opportunities for students involved scouring the web looking for the best pieces of software.
Then, along came the internet. That opened all kinds of doors as it was now possible to run applications directly from the internet without installing anything but a browser.
Then, things changed our thinking quite a bit. Tablets became viable options. Into the mix, came the Chromebook. In its simplest form, it’s considered a web browser on a machine. Those that really know computers recognize that it’s more than that; it’s an operating system based upon Linux, capable of running certain applications. Newer machines will also run Android applications. The nice thing to education was that they were priced very attractively. So nicely, that the traditional players were squeezed in the marketplace. All of this for that very attractive price.
As we learned recently, Apple seems hesitant to do anything in this area. The new Macbook Pros are still priced on the high end and they’re the only company that makes these computers. This week, Microsoft unveiled plans for Windows S, a new entry into the Windows platform. It comes at a very reasonable price and stories are out indicating that some new machines will be priced to compete with the Chromebook. This definitely was targeted at education and students who don’t necessarily need the higher priced devices.
The kicker, as it were, is that it will only run applications available from the Windows Store.
The concept of a “store” isn’t new. Apple has done it for a long time to get iOS applications to its users. Android applications have their own store. So, Microsoft wants to do things along the same line. There have been a lot of really negative reports about this move but I would suggest that they’re based upon the old idea of what Windows was all about. Every vendor could have their own way of distributing software. Now, Windows S says you have to get applications from one spot. So, with regards to the current way of doing things, yes, it is a change.
But, I think it’s a change for the good. With the ability to download and install applications from everywhere, making sure you’re getting the latest and greatest can be a challenge. Plus – is the site you’re downloading from legitimate? Or, is it also distributing malware? Conceivably by bringing everything to the Microsoft store, tighter control over quality and updates would be a feature rather than a maintenance task.
In addition to better pricing, the Chromebook has changed another way of looking at things in education. No longer do you need a separate application to do every task. So much can be accomplished in the browser. That’s a very attractive option. So, all you need is a good web browser. Chrome is the browser, people like that. Nobody complains that you can’t run Microsoft’s Edge on your Chromebook.
The other kick at Windows S is Microsoft’s plans to only allow browsers from its store to run on the computer. And, this currently means Edge. There was a time, not too long ago, that I’d be really concerned about that. It’s not that the browser causes problems; most web browsers are pretty much interchangeable these days. It’s the extensions that give more functionality to the browser. Even that’s changing. In the beginning, there were none. Then, it started…
Before I started to write this post, I took a look at the extensions I have installed.
- uBlock Origin
- Translator for Edge
- OneNote Web Clipper
I was pleased with the collection there. There were a couple that I use regularly that weren’t there – notably Diigo, ScribeFire, and Google Keep. However, if this was my only life, I could live with it. In schools, chances are students wouldn’t be allowed to install extensions to the browser anyway. The complete list is available to review here.
The one major problem would be websites that won’t work until you return with Firefox or Google Chrome.
Now, Microsoft isn’t a stupid company; if they’re about to make this work, they should be looking for such sites and I would hope providing some assistance for making the modifications needed to make it work.
So, with the current state of Edge, the supply of applications already in place, and a knowledge of great web resources, I could probably make it work. How about you?
Imagine a world with only applications from the Microsoft store and the Edge browser. Could you make it work?