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Seton Hall U Mobile Program Chooses Samsung with Windows 8

Microsoft may have lost its mojo as far as Vanity Fair is concerned, but Seton Hall University still wants the goods. The New Jersey institution with 10,000 students has decided that this year it will hand out Samsung tablets and notebooks running Windows 8 to incoming freshmen for its Mobile Computing initiative.

For 14 years that program has provided a laptop in some form to all undergraduates as part of their tuition and fees.

When school cranks up in the fall, 2,500 students will use Windows 8 devices. As a side bonus, freshmen will also receive Nokia smartphones running Windows. Plus, the campus will be standardizing on the use of the free edition of Office 365 for education, Microsoft's online communications and collaboration suite.

Students from the class of 2016 who are in science or honors programs will receive the Samsung Series 7 Slate PC. Specs are these:

  • An 11.6-inch 1,366 x 768 display with a "finger sensing" touch screen;
  • An Intel 2nd generation dual-core 1.6 GHz processor;
  • 4 GB of memory;
  • A 128 GB solid state drive;
  • An Intel HD Graphics 3000 chipset;
  • Front and rear webcams, 3-watt stereo speaker, digitizer pen; and
  • Intel 801.11 a/b//g/n wireless.

Other incoming freshmen will get Samsung Series 5 ultrabooks, with:

  • 14-inch SuperBright display;
  • An Intel 2nd generation dual-core 1.6 GHz processor;
  • 4 GB of memory;
  • A 500 GB hard drive;
  • An Intel HD Graphics 3000 chip;
  • A webcam, DVD drive, and touch pad;
  • Intel 801.11 a/b//g/n wireless, as well as gigabit wired Ethernet; and
  • Bluetooth 3.0.

The Slates and notebooks will run Windows 8; the ultrabooks will also have Windows 7.

As part of a regular technology refresh, juniors in the same disciplines will be upgraded to comparable hardware and software this fall too.

"From students' perspectives, Windows 8 delivers an environment that allows them to be as productive as possible," said CIO Stephen Landry. "They want integration of their tablet experience with their desktop experience, and products like Microsoft Office 365 for education help make that possible. Other devices out there have the form factor and battery life but miss the mark on offering efficient content creation and consumption."

Landry hinted at such a move in a blog post he wrote in February 2012. In it, he quoted "Boy Genius Report" author Zach Epstein: "As hot as iOS is right now, and as popular as smart phones and media tablets are, no platform installed base on the planet even comes close to approaching the size of Windows right now.... We are now entering the post-post-PC era, and its focus is the PC. A new, smarter, more versatile PC. A PC that lets users browse the Web casually in bed and work with massive databases in SQL Server. A PC that can run a $0.99 news reader as well as it can run proprietary $99,000 CRM software..."

In that article, Epstein noted, "I've spent the past week playing with and working on a Samsung tablet powered by Microsoft's new operating system. It's nice to be able to work and play on the same tablet."

The enterprise capabilities were as attractive to Seton Hall's IT organization as the user features. Erwin Visser, a Microsoft marketing director, quoted Landry in a Microsoft blog post: "From an IT perspective, Windows 8 provides us with the ability to manage thousands of devices on our campus network that other solutions are not able to provide. From the student's perspective, other offerings were great devices for consuming information, but students found it very difficult to create content on them."

Simultaneously, the university is upgrading to Office 365 for e-mai, shared calendars, Microsoft Office Web Apps, video and online meeting features, and document sharing. Also, it's outfitting incoming freshmen with Windows Phone-based Nokia Lumia 900 mobile devices with 300 phone minutes each month and free texting and data service through the rest of the year. Those phones too will provide students with access to Windows 8 along with their Office 365 applications as well as access to SHUMobile, a campus app that provides news, maps, and other mobile components.

"Microsoft really has the right vision for creating a dynamic learning environment for students," Landry said. "With Windows 8, students can create and collaborate seamlessly with each other, regardless of the device they have with them."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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