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April 14, 2017

Could Microsoft’s next Surface device be an education-focused Cloud Book?

by John_A

Why it matters to you

If you’re a student or a teacher, then Microsoft might have a new Surface device made just for you if recent rumors are true.

Microsoft is holding what’s presumed to be its spring event on May 2, 2017 in New York City. As expected, there is plenty of speculation on exactly what Microsoft will cover, or uncover, at the event after some recent rumors have doused the hopes of many that new Surface Book and Surface Pro machines would be highlighted.

Given the event’s hashtag #MicrosoftEDU, the event will clearly have an educational focus, which has led to further speculation that Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 10 Cloud product will be highlighted. Taking the prognosticating to an extreme is the idea that the company could introduce a completely new version of Surface dubbed “Cloud Book,” as MSPU outlines in a new theory.

There’s some evidence that such a device might be in the works, in addition to mere guesses like the one Microsoft-watcher Mary Jo Foley proposed in a recent story at ZDNet. Merging “Cloud” and “Book” makes some sense on its own, and clearly, Microsoft has the idea itself as demonstrated by a tweet from famous leak source Walking Cat:

interesting, a collection in WinStore for "students and scholars", id is "cloudbook" ms-windows-store://collection/?collectionid=cloudbook pic.twitter.com/JE2th3T1yh

— WalkingCat (@h0x0d) April 13, 2017

Another rumor also works into the mix here, as Windows 10 Cloud is anticipated by some to be Microsoft’s response to Google’s Chromebook initiative, which is making strong headway in the education market by virtue of its low cost of entry and significantly reduced administrative burden. If Microsoft wants to drive the Windows 10 Cloud penetration in education in the same way that it has driven the Windows 10 PC ecosystem forward with Surface in general, then producing a halo-like Cloud Book would make some sense.

There is also the very real possibility that a low-cost Cloud Book for education could utilize an ARM processor, given that Microsoft has already confirmed the full Windows 10 operating system will run on ARM and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 has been pegged as the likely candidate chipset for the first Windows 10 ARM machines. Running on ARM would lower costs and provide a long-lasting machine that would work well in the classroom, and there’s a rumor of a traditional clamshell Surface device that’s also popped up that would make more sense for a Cloud Book than for a Surface Book.

This is all just speculation, of course, and we’ll have to wait until the event to see what Microsoft actually has up its sleeve. It’s done a great job so far of keeping things like this a secret, with both the original Surface Book and the Surface Studio being mostly complete surprises when they were announced at their own events. One thing is clear, however — with Microsoft Build 2017 also scheduled for next month, Microsoft fans have a lot of new material coming their way very soon.

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