I have an ASUS Eee Slate EP121 Windows 7 tablet PC. It is marketed as the world’s most powerful tablet device. It is powerful because it has Windows and a full-powered Intel Core i5 processor among other delights. So it can run anything and everything I install with true multitasking ease. Last night, I upgraded my EP121 to the Windows 8 Developer Preview. It was quick and painless—especially for a pre-beta release of an operating system. Maybe you just missed why Windows 8 matters to school finance, so allow me to elaborate further.
The Windows 7 tablet PC is a sunk cost. It was paid for with last year’s budget. It is functional. Today, it does everything I need a PC or tablet to do. Next year, when Windows 8 ships, I will not have to purchase a new tablet PC unless I have preference for some new hardware. My existing tablet runs Windows 8 and it will continue to run all of my existing Windows 7 applications. That is a tremendous savings.
Schools that have made investments in Windows today will not see those investments rendered obsolete and void when Microsoft releases the Windows 8 operating system a year from now. In contrast, other tablet platforms require a new investment in hardware and applications with each new release and no support for existing software, peripherals, or guarantee of compatibility. That business model may work for an individual consumer, but it is grossly expensive for a school district or college.
Over the next three years, education technology will see a tectonic shift in capabilities and effectiveness. While change is evitable, education leaders should seek strategies that continue to optimize return on existing investments versus cannibalizing their seeds before they harvest. If we have learned anything from our education technology investments of the past—utility trumps novelty. With Windows 8, school leaders can rest easy knowing that they do not have trade utility and productivity for novelty and trendy.
Has your ability to buy new classroom capabilities or stay current been impact by years of decline in education funding? Share your stories below.