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Microsoft to offer the Surface 2 with LTE: nothing for education to rally around

Microsoft Surface Tablet
Microsoft Surface Tablet
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Microsoft announced that beginning tomorrow, March 18, 2014, it will offer a Surface 2 model with LTE for $679. The device will initially be sold by Microsoft stores and Best Buy exclusively.

The only notable change between the Surface 2 and the newer model with LTE will be the support for LTE using a Micro Sim Card. Pushing up the price point to gain wireless access is likely not important to primary and secondary levels of education, but could have a minor level of appeal in higher education. However, considering the price sensitivity of students in higher education, it is likely this will be a little interest on a mass level.

The RT has been criticized for the lack of an app ecosystem, rendering the device a non-starter in K-12 levels of education. The big sell for RT is the ability to run Office applications, which appeals mostly to students in higher education. While Office applications are also theoretically attractive at secondary levels, it is often not enough to compete with existing alternative tablets or Chromebooks. The limited app ecosystem and higher price point of the LTE Surface 2 version will do little to affect the education market.

The Surface Pro 2 offers a myriad of attractive features such as the ability to run legacy Windows software, an active digitizer to support smooth free hand writing, an impressive touch keyboard attachment, and support for peripheral devices, but the pricing is completely beyond the budgets of schools and students. The end result is that the Surface Pro 2 receives little consideration. That is unfortunate, because the Surface Pro 2 does offer some important features for educational use, unmatched by any competing device.

The budget RT tablet does little to address the specific needs of education, despite the Microsoft push to attract schools with a low price point for the Surface 2 sans LTE. The lack of an app ecosystem to compete with iOS, Google Education, and Android handcuffs most schools from considering the RT seriously. This new iteration of the RT will almost assuredly follow the same pattern.