The VAR Guy recently visited his son's high school. During that field trip, our resident blogger noticed several dozen Windows XP systems -- which will face Microsoft's XP end of life deadline on April 8, 2014. Microsoft (MSFT) could win lots of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 business as schools dump older offerings. But then again another big winner could be Google Chromebooks from Acer, Asus, HP, Lenovo, Samsung and Toshiba. Here's why.

Roughly 22 percent of U.S. school districts now run Google Chromebooks, the low-cost, cloud-centric notebooks, according to Business Insider. Admittedly, some of those schools may have only a handful of Chromebooks. But NPD Group, a market research firm, claims Chromebooks represented 3.3 percent of back-to-school system sales. 

At first glance that's a tiny figure compared to the massive Windows market. But consider these variables:

  • Can Microsoft really afford to lose market share and Windows XP upgrade opportunities when the overall PC market has been contracting?
  • Will Chromebooks gain even more momentum since the the cloud-based design eliminates the need for time-consuming desktop upgrades?

Somewhere, Google's channel partners must be smiling. Cloud Sherpas -- a Top 100 Cloud Services Provider -- has offered and supported Chromebooks for some customers. And K-12 resellers seem to be kicking the Chromebook tires more and more frequently, The VAR Guy has heard during a few private conversations.

The bottom line: Microsoft wants thousands of Windows XP customers -- including schools -- to jump to Windows 8.1 in 2014 or sooner. But some schools are instead making a leap of faith to Google Chromebooks.

How many schools are going that route? The VAR Guy is still searching for answers...