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Windows 11 powers a new generation of devices for education’s changing landscape

I am so inspired by the continued innovation from our partners, who are finding new ways to meet the ever-changing needs of students, faculty and administration. As schools continue to navigate change, many are finding that one size does not fit all, and as a result are adopting a variety of hybrid learning approaches and…

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I am so inspired by the continued innovation from our partners, who are finding new ways to meet the ever-changing needs of students, faculty and administration. As schools continue to navigate change, many are finding that one size does not fit all, and as a result are adopting a variety of hybrid learning approaches and embracing remote learning. The value that technology can deliver to unlock these capabilities is impressive. Of course, it’s great seeing Windows 11 at the center of it all, with new tools designed to improve the learning experience and enable better, richer learning experiences. Schools are still expanding and creating new ways of teaching and learning, and I love how the education community is leveraging technology to help students not only survive, but thrive.

New devices drive reliable, secure, powerful learning with Windows 11

While education has fundamentally changed in recent years, Microsoft remains steadfast in our promise to support students’ and educators’ needs today and in the future. Windows 11 delivers a powerful yet simplified, clean and fluid design aimed at making communicating and collaborating easier. The introduction of Windows 11 SE in November ushered in a new era of education. Designed and built during the pandemic to address the most fundamental challenges that schools face in the blended learning world, it brings performance enhancements that optimize resources on low-cost devices to deliver more comprehensive learning experiences, and is simple to deploy and manage. Our partners are building a broad portfolio of Windows 11 SE devices that are now starting to become available globally. Educators will find many choices of form factors to meet students’ needs at price points to fit any budget. Anywhere, anytime learning is here to stay. As schools and systems constantly shift and evolve to meet the needs of their students and families, Microsoft and our partners will be there to help address the biggest challenges in education. These new devices support more engaging, collaborative and accessible learning for all, and that translates to providing the best tools for inclusive and equitable education.

Let’s look at the range of Windows 11 devices that our partners are bringing to market for education:

Acer has been working closely with Microsoft in order to provide devices for pilot programs that bring Windows 11 SE to schools around the world. It is one of the first brands to carry devices powered by Windows 11 SE, starting with Acer TravelMate Spin B3 laptop. This 11.6-inch device was built to survive the K-12 school-day in the classroom and at home: with military-grade durability to withstand drops, shock-absorbent bumpers, well-secured keys and drainage to protect internal components from moderate spills. It comes with the latest Intel Pentium Silver and Celeron processors, a webcam, 10-hour battery life and Intel Wi-Fi 6 (Gig+) with 2×2 MU-MIMO technology to help with connectivity in multi-user environments. Another Acer laptop powered by Windows 11 SE: the TravelMate B3.

For students of all ages, ASUS BR1100F, powered by Windows 11 SE, is a learning companion with a tough, innovative design that’s made to last. It’s been built to withstand knocks, bumps, drops and spills without damage, whether it’s dropped from a classroom desk or the dining table. In addition to a versatile touchscreen display and stylus, there’s also an ultra-tough 360-degree hinge and a world-facing camera. Other protective features include an all-round rubber bumper and spill-resistant keyboard. BR1100F also supports up to Wi-Fi 6 and optional 4G LTE for fast connectivity, and has AI-powered noise-canceling technology for high-quality remote learning and conferencing. A modular design makes it easy to service and antibacterial treatment on the cover, keyboard, touchpad and palm rest helps keep it clean.

Empower boundless learning with the Dell Latitude 3120 and 3120 2-in-1 for Education, powered by Windows 11 SE. Built with a new chassis design, 11-inch display, Intel Celeron Quad-Core and Pentium Quad-Core Processors, extended battery life and ExpressCharge – which will charge the device up to 80% in about an hour – students can confidently power through every lesson uninterrupted. Optional Wi-Fi 6 empowers faster speed, increased capacity and better power efficiency. Laser etching on the front and back covers provides enhanced grip to help prevent drops and slipping. On the 2-in-1, Dragontrail Pro glass provides scratch resistance, as well as better protection if the system is dropped on its corners. Engage students with the optional world-facing camera, which provides dual camera support that enables flipped viewing and recording angles. Students who want to write, take notes or draw diagrams from any angle or mode – flat, tent, tablet or laptop – can add on the optional Dell Active Pen.

Expertly designed for remote and hybrid learning, the Dynabook E10-S is a full-featured, 11.6-inch Windows 11 SE laptop that could be the perfect tool for students and their careers. Backed by 35 years of helping students get the most from their education, Dynabook (formerly Toshiba PC Company) equips the compact and lightweight device with a backpack-safe, reinforced chassis with bumpers, 180-degree hinges and spill-resistant keyboard with mechanically anchored keys to endure daily classroom use. With its efficient Intel processor, solid state storage and array of ports, including USB-C, the Dynabook E10 easily keeps pace with the curriculum. The laptop’s long-lasting battery helps power students through their day and tackle their homework. All this comes at an affordable price.

Also check out the Dynabook Satellite Pro E10S, powered by Windows 11.

HP has introduced new laptops to help students stay productive in the classroom, at home or on the go – or a blend of all three environments. At the forefront is the HP ProBook Fortis 14-inch G9 Notebook, powered by Windows 11 SE. Built for the greater demands being placed on today’s students, this device features a 14-inch diagonal display giving them more screen to stay productive – whether it’s taking notes while watching a lecture or creating visual stories with ease. Students can also see their work more clearly with brighter anti-glare displays. This notebook help students move confidently through their day as they access assignments and apps seamlessly with Wi-Fi 6. With learning taking place in so many different places, devices are susceptible to more drops, bumps and spills. Technology that can withstand the rigors of wherever learning takes place is paramount. With a starting weight of 3.70 pounds, the textured surface makes it easier for students of all ages to grip and handle the lightweight devices. The reinforced power and USB-C ports limit damage from accidentally tugged cables, while the mechanically reinforced corners and co-molded rubber trims absorb shocks and reinforced hinges minimize stress on the hinges from repeated opening and closing. The anchored keyboard prevents keys from being removed and resists spills up to 11.8 ounces. Students can also wipe down the chassis, keyboard and display using commonly available household disinfecting and cleaning wipes. For enhanced safety and protection, the device features a new metal shield that protects the battery from puncture and swelling.

HP’s other laptop powered by Windows 11 SE: the HP Pro x360 Fortis 11-inch G9 Notebook.

Other HP laptops in the Fortis portfolio powered by Windows 11: HP Pro x360 Fortis 11-inch G9 Notebook, HP Pro x360 Fortis 11-inch G10 Notebook, HP ProBook Fortis 14-inch G9 Notebook and HP ProBook Fortis 14-inch G10 Notebook.

JP.IK’s Windows 11 SE device is an affordable laptop built with K-12 students in mind: the Leap T304, starting at $219. This device’s light and rugged design can withstand drops from up to almost 3.5 feet, has an anti-glare display, super-fast Wi-Fi, all-day battery life and a rotating 2-megapixel camera. Students are always ready to learn, thanks to a fast boot time and instant resume with Windows 11 SE. Security features such as a Kensington Lock and fTPM2.0 (with secure boot enabled by default) help reassure parents and teachers that their child’s primary school PC remains safe. The Leap T304 comes in packaging certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, made from sustainably cultivated forests and recyclable plastic.

Another JP.IK laptop powered by Windows 11 SE: Turn T303, starting at $269. And, check out other JP.IK laptops running Windows 11: Slide S301 and Leap Connect T304.

Lenovo has announced new additions to its broad education portfolio designed to enhance learning efficiencies in a new age for education. The new devices are purpose-built to meet the needs of modern in-person and distance-learning. The all-new Lenovo 10w Tablet, powered by Windows 11, also includes the Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c compute platform to deliver an Always On, Always Connected computing experience with the power and performance to help modernize learning. With its ruggedized rubber bumper and Corning Gorilla Glass, offering better protection for daily wear and tear, it’s ideal for younger students. The detachable keyboard converts the tablet into a 10.1-inch laptop allowing students to type documents, take online exams or participate in collaborative engagements with fellow students. An optional garaged pen further enhances interaction as learners can directly annotate on screen or highlight relevant subject matter through computer-assisted training tools. The 16:10 aspect ratio FHD display offers a better form factor for reading, and front and world-facing cameras facilitate remote learning and photo-taking on field trips. Students (and their parents) will also appreciate the responsive performance, extended battery life, reliable Wi-Fi connectivity and enterprise-grade security.

Lenovo is also introducing the Lenovo 13w Yoga, which is also powered by Windows 11. And if you’re looking for other Lenovo laptops powered by Windows 11 SE, check out the 100w and 300w, 500w and 14w. For more information on these and other devices, head over to Lenovo’s education portfolio.

There are many more Windows 11 SE devices coming this year, including releases from Fujitsu and Positivo, in addition to the devices already mentioned here.

The ability to build personal connections through anytime, anywhere education is critical. I just love the thoughtful detail our partners have used in the development of these devices. Parents and educators will love the durability and reliability, while students will enjoy the power and performance. The demands presented by hybrid and remote learning have fostered incredible innovation, and it is encouraging to see how far we have come in the past couple of years.

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Babylon.js 5.0: News Tools – Part 2

We are artists, developers, creators, and dreamers and we want to make it as simple as possible to enable everyone to bring their ideas to life. With this new version of Babylon.js, we set out to make it even easier to develop thanks to a suite of new and exciting tools. Animation Curve Editor Creating and…

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We are artists, developers, creators, and dreamers and we want to make it as simple as possible to enable everyone to bring their ideas to life. With this new version of Babylon.js, we set out to make it even easier to develop thanks to a suite of new and exciting tools.

Animation Curve Editor

Creating and modifying animation data in a rendering engine can be complicated and verbose, but not anymore! Babylon.js 5.0 adds a built-in Animation Curve Editor (ACE), making it incredibly easy to create and modify animation data directly in your Babylon scene. As with all Babylon.js Platform tools, you can also save your animation data to the Babylon.js Snippet Server and load it back into your Babylon.js scene with one single line of code!

See it in action here: Play with the Animation Curve Editor

Learn more: Animation Curve Editor Documentation

Performance Profiler

Performance is one of the most important things to keep in mind as you create advanced interactive 3D experiences. After all, you don’t want to create an awesome experience that only runs on the most high-end graphics cards, right? You want to create something that EVERYONE can enjoy, and this means keeping track of and optimizing the performance of your scene. Babylon.js 5.0 makes performance debugging and management a breeze with the introduction of the new Performance Profiler. This handy tool allows you to see a real time graph of key performance indicators of your scene, all hooked up live! Make a change, see the impact on perf. It’s really that simple!

See it in action here: Performance Profiler Demo

Learn more: Performance Profiler Documentation

GUI Editor Beta

Babylon.js has a powerful GUI system that offers countless widgets, controls, and properties to help you create rich GUIs. With Babylon.js 5.0 that powerful system becomes far simpler to use with the introduction of the GUI Editor Beta. While still in active development, the GUI Editor Beta is a rich and modern tool, allowing you to create the perfect GUI with a simple and intuitive drag-and-drop interface. Say goodbye to thousands of lines of GUI code and hello to a world of design with the GUI Editor Beta and loading your creations with a single line of code!

See it in action here: GUI Editor Beta Demo

Try it out for yourself: GUI Editor

Learn more: GUI Editor Beta Documentation

New Node Material Nodes

The Node Material Editor is one of the most advanced tools available in the Babylon Platform. One simple UI that helps you generate stunning GLSL shaders with ease. With Babylon.js 5.0 the Node Material gets even better with the introduction of several powerful new nodes!

Check out the new nodes:

Learn More: Node Material Documentation

Asset Librarian

The Babylon.js Platform offers a large library of free Creative Commons 0 assets available for you to use in your Babylon.js scenes, completely for free. With Babylon.js 5.0, accessing these assets is easier and faster than ever! The new Asset Librarian brings a new Assets namespace that you can use in your projects to easily access the 200+ free assets to make your Babylon.js scenes soar.

Try it out: Asset Librarian Demo

Learn More: Asset Librarian Documentation

Dev Stories Documentation

Babylon.js 5.0 adds a whole new category of documentation called “Dev Stories.” These new tutorials are designed to walk you, step-by-step, through some common scenarios that many Babylon.js developers ask about. From setting up a Babylon.js project quickly, adding interactive 3D elements to your e-commerce site, to deploying your Babylon.js project to a Native Application, “Dev Stories” are rich, deep, detailed tutorials aimed at helping you take your project from idea to reality!

Check It Out: Dev Stories!

“Going The Distance With Babylon.js” A New Book               

We are also incredibly excited to share that alongside Babylon.js 5.0, community member and talented author Josh Elster has written an entirely new book about Babylon.js 5.0. Published by Packt Publishing, “Going The Distance With Babylon.js” is written from the mindset of taking you through the entire development process of building a game with Babylon.js from the ground up. We are thrilled to partner with Josh and Packt on this book and think it’ll be a great addition to your library and accelerate your Babylon.js learning journey.

Pick Up Your Copy Here: Babylon.js 5.0: The Book

Beside the tooling, there are also a ton of new features in the engine itself. Check out part three to learn more about the exciting new improvements with Babylon.js 5.0.

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How Windows speech-to-text and other tools can help address educational inequity

Graham, a 12-year-old boy who lives in Kansas, has a neurological condition that renders him unable to read or write. But, thanks to Windows speech-to-text, Immersive Reader and other tools, he’s been able to look forward to the future. He now aces book reports and makes business cards for his lawn-mowing service thanks to those…

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Graham, a 12-year-old boy who lives in Kansas, has a neurological condition that renders him unable to read or write. But, thanks to Windows speech-to-text, Immersive Reader and other tools, he’s been able to look forward to the future. He now aces book reports and makes business cards for his lawn-mowing service thanks to those tools. He dreams of being a doctor.

Features like these can help address inequity in schools, empowering students like Graham to find their voices and be game changers.

See the video below. To learn more about Graham and some of the ways teachers are using technology to help address inequity in the classroom, visit Microsoft Stories.




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Using Azure and Windows 11, IRZ consulting company helps farmers save water and power

Water is one of the most precious resources on Earth. And as someone whose family has been farming for generations, Fred Ziari has made it his life’s work to help growers be more efficient with this vital element for their crops, as well as the energy it takes to distribute it. Ziari is the CEO…

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Water is one of the most precious resources on Earth. And as someone whose family has been farming for generations, Fred Ziari has made it his life’s work to help growers be more efficient with this vital element for their crops, as well as the energy it takes to distribute it.

Ziari is the CEO of IRZ Engineering & Consulting, which provides services to agriculture communities around the world. The company is based in eastern Oregon, which he says is 95% efficient in its water use, vs. about 40% globally.

Water management is directly tied to crop productivity. IRZ offers water management services for large scale farms (100 acres or more), using water sensors and Microsoft Azure cloud services. This Internet of Things (IoT) solution links the internet connected sensors to the cloud. Azure SQL Server manages the incoming data and then IRZ uses custom apps to deliver that information to farmers, leading to decisions that help them save them 15-20% in water and power usage annually, which translates to millions of dollars. Windows 11 PCs and Microsoft 365 are must-haves for IRZ to smoothly conduct its daily business.

By reducing both water and energy in irrigated farming, IRZ customers conserve over 10 billion gallons of water every year.


Born in Northern Iran on a farm along the Caspian Sea, Ziari says generations of his family grew about 30 different types of crops, so agriculture has always been a big part of his life.

“Growing up in a family farm, I always believed that the technology of agriculture was more important to me and more interesting than the farming itself,” Ziari says. “I felt that by using water more efficiently, you can increase productivity by many, many fold.”

Fifty years ago, he came to the U.S. when he was 18.

He went to Texas A&M University for his undergrad and graduate studies before joining the faculty at Washington State University as a researcher in water management, specializing in irrigated agriculture.

Fred Ziari of IRZ

Irrigation and rainfall are the two sources most farms use to water their crops. Irrigated agriculture has become more important since it’s not so dependent on the environment and changing climate conditions to assure production and yield. But that means farmers need to use water more efficiently.

“If you put too much water to the crop, you are drowning it because the roots need oxygen. If you put too much water, you’re suffocating them,” Ziari says. “If you can put just the right amount of water, your productivity increases substantially.”

Soil moisture sensor up-close, in a potato field

In 1982, he moved to Oregon. Two years after that, he started IRZ engineering consulting, when he was 30.

Ziari got some of his best business advice from his grandfather. When he was a teen, his grandfather told him to be brave, take risks and create something, and good things would happen. As an entrepreneur, Ziari says that courage is a must. He also believes in a purposeful life – helping others, serving communities.

“You can only manage what you measure, so we rely tremendously on field sensors and climate input technologies – as well as modeling – using software to achieve our water management goals,” Ziari says. “Our company has been using Azure cloud services to provide near real time information and data to the farmers in multiple states: Oregon, Washington, Idaho and around the globe. So that has been a game changer for us on how we provide information and data to farmers – and how quickly they’re able to make irrigation decisions based on that data.”

Tim Berk of IRZ

Before Azure, they had to send a soil scientist and agricultural engineer to the farms and they would measure soil moisture, write it down on paper and bring it to the office. And then another person input the data. IRZ’s technical team installs real-time moisture sensors that go up to a meter deep and report what is happening with soil moisture and how much of the crop is taking water out of the soil every 15 minutes. They’re also tapping into weather stations and using proprietary software to forecast crop water use. It’s a massive amount of data – that’s now connected to Azure. Then apps forward that information to farmers on their desktops, laptops and mobile devices so they can decide when and how much to irrigate.

At the IRZ offices, engineers rely on Windows 11 and Microsoft 365 daily, such as using the centered task bar, widgets and a simplified start menu; as well as PowerPoint or Excel for calculations needed for sophisticated modeling or presenting ideas to clients.

Telemetry unit with the rain/irrigation gauge (black object) on the left in a potato field, where the crop is at a later stage of growth

Tim Berk, who’s been with IRZ for about 20 years, is the company’s IT manager. He says it’s been a long road to where they are with technology.

Within their customer base, the acceptance of technology has increased. In earlier years, Berk says it was difficult to encourage a grower or one of their customers to go online to get information – whether that was a weather report or a report IRZ published. In more recent years, as the internet has become standard, those growers have embraced web-based technologies.

IRZ chose Affirma as its technology partner about seven years ago to help them in other areas.

“Affirma allows us to do things that we can’t do ourselves,” Berk says. “They’ve got a lot of talent to draw from, whether it’s a data architect, a web developer or UI/graphics arts designer. Our customers also benefit from our relationship with Affirma. They help us bring our ideas to life and in their best form possible. Our expertise is in irrigation, consulting and engineering. With Affirma, we have a deep bench with talent and data architecture, software engineering, user interface design.”

Berk started at IRZ doing field work, then moved over to his current role in technology, where he’s been the majority of his time there.

Soil moisture sensor installed in a field

“Water management is important for a couple of reasons,” he says. “It allows growers to better manage costs associated with irrigating their crops and fields. Secondly, it’s important for the environment to use water wisely. It’s good for the environment, it’s good for the planet.”

In the past, IRZ hosted its own website and infrastructure, which was very expensive and difficult to implement. With Azure, they have all those things available to them without having to manage it themselves. Being cloud-based helps IRZ with redundancy and geo-located backups of services – something Berk says puts a small business on the same level as big business.

As a result, they’re giving farmers and growers the biggest benefit of all: time.

Traditionally, a farmer would have to visit his field multiple times a week, even every day. With IRZ’s sensors in the field, farmers can have the confidence to take time off and still be able to monitor their fields in near real-time.

Berk frames the company’s services to growers as a decision support system, starting with sensors in the field – moisture in the soil or applied irrigation – that transmit that data via satellite or by cell modems.

From there, IRZ imports that data into its system where it’s stored in Azure SQL databases, and then a number of processes run within a web application. And then it’s available to IRZ customers in near real-time in the form of reports on either a tablet, smartphone, a PC or a web browser.

During the summer growing season, fields can get dry – sometimes all at the same time. But farmers can’t add irrigation to the entire field at the same time due to the nature of the way the irrigation machines work. They have to plan ahead.

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