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Microsoft claims to have 200 million education users as it pushes new hardware and updated Classroom Pen

Stop sniggering at the back! Today's lesson: Actually getting Teams working – aye, Scotland?

How many poor underlings are trapped in Redmond's locker? Over 200 million, apparently. With BettFest 2021 firing up the virtual halls, Microsoft is trumpeting the number of devices it has in the world of education along with the penetration of its Teams platform.

The company today laid claim to more than 200 million users of Microsoft Education products (with Teams for Education as the hub) and highlighted the arrival of the Reflect app, due to roll out in Teams over spring and set for integration with Education Insights.

The app is designed to allow anyone using Teams for remote or hybrid learning to express how they are feeling in general, or about specific topics.

Judging by the experience of some using the technology, "frustrated" might be top of the list. The platform had a wobble last week in Scotland. Over the course of a few hours, there were problems accessing Teams and uploading files.

Issues have persisted for some attempting to use the Join button and Chat Update features, although the troubles are restricted to students using the Glow platform of Education Scotland. Engineers reported that Microsoft was "a few weeks away from implementing a permanent fix" and that a manual workaround was available.

Teams and other similar tools have become a fixture in the lives of many during the lockdown. For Microsoft, Windows 10 remains the entry portal, rather than, say, Google's lightweight Chrome OS running on Chromebooks, which analysts say have flown off the shelves during lockdown. To that end, the vendor highlighted a number of education-oriented LTE-capable devices, including hardware such as the Acer TravelMate B3 at $239 and the JP.IK Leap T304, coming in at $185.

Unsurprisingly, the specifications to be had for that kind of money won't set the world on fire, though Microsoft boasted of putting "the power of learning in students' hands with the latest Intel Celeron processor, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage."

Running Windows 10 on such a device could be an education in its own right, however, the hardware should chug along for basic tasks.

Microsoft also highlighted 2-in-1 devices and unveiled an update to its chunky Classroom Pen, the imaginatively named Classroom Pen 2, a device for scribbling on screens of capable devices. The new iteration is both longer and cheaper than its predecessor, which was aimed at a world with more wear and tear than the standard Pen. A price cut has taken the cost down to $19.99.

No British pound or Euro prices have yet been revealed by Microsoft. ®

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