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Microsoft's (MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation Report newest laptop appears to be taking on not just Alphabet's (GOOGL) - Get Alphabet Inc. Class A Report Google Chromebooks, as expected, but Apple's  (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Reportlaptops as well. 

On Tuesday morning in New York City, the software giant unveiled the Surface Laptop, a 13.5-inch laptop that's powered by the new Windows 10 S operating system. Microsoft said the $999 device -- available for pre-order now and shipping June 15 -- is targeted at students who are looking for a portable, durable and lightning-fast laptop to carry around to class.

The device comes powered with Intel (INTC) - Get Intel Corporation Report core i5 and i7 processors and has a 14.5 hour battery life, plus it comes in four shades: platinum, burgundy, cobalt blue and graphite gold and weighs less than three pounds. The inside surface and keys also come covered in Italian cloth.  

The Surface Laptop breaks from the hybrid laptop-tablet format that dominated previous Surface models in favor of a more conventional clamshell design.

"We want students to feel proud when they pull this out of their bag," said Panos Panay, Microsoft's device chief, at the event on Tuesday. "Lots of students use the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, we know that."


The Surface Laptop in platinum. It starts at $999.

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Leading up to the announcement, the Surface Laptop was widely anticipated to be a competitor to the Google Chromebook, which has become a favorite among educators and students. But with a price point that's nearly $1,000 (versus Chromebooks, which start at around $100), that may not be the case.

Panay seemed to be focusing on Apple more directly in his announcement, noting that the Surface Laptop is 50% faster than the MacBook Air and lasts longer than the 13-inch MacBook Pro, which has a battery life of 10 hours. The Chromebook, by contrast, wasn't mentioned once during the event. 

The feature that does go after the Chromebook more directly is the Windows 10 S operating system, which is meant to be a lighter, cloud-based version of the Windows operating system. Like the Chrome OS, Windows 10 S only comes with a browser and the Windows Store, which means that Microsoft Office is still on the Surface Laptop, but in app form. In Windows 10 S, users can only run programs that are available on the Windows Store.

To run apps that aren't on the Windows Store, users have to switch to Windows 10 Pro, which is available free for students, but costs $49 for everyone else. And once you switch to Windows 10 Pro, you can't go back to 10 S. 

While the Surface Laptop is more expensive than the average Chromebook, Microsoft will have entry-level Windows 10 S devices that start at $189. Those devices will include laptops made by Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Samsung, Toshiba and Fujitsu. Those should appeal to educators who are looking for a new laptop to outfit their classroom with.

"You can't just install any app...but it makes everything simpler and more predictable and just safer," said Jay Paulus, senior director of Windows Education Marketing, in an interview. "People want to get stuff done and they also want their PC to keep running fast and smooth so this is the way to keep the PC running faster and smoother."

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