In its quest to secure a portion of the education market for itself, Microsoft seems to have pulled out all the stops, including offering schools free Surface RT devices and a custom Bing experience that is completely devoid of advertisements.
A blog post announced the program and the school districts that will act as testers for the program, today.
School systems will be able to switch their default search engine to Microsoft’s Bing for Schools. Instead of these schools relying on firewalls and software that blocks certain sites, Bing for School acts as the middle man itself.
According Microsoft, Bing For Schools doesn’t have any advertisements in any of its search results. It also filters out any objectionable or adult content. Citing a report from Pew, Microsoft believes that Bing for Schools is historic, saying, “94% of teachers believe that their students are very likely to use a search engine during a typical assignment.” It’s Microsoft’s assertion that by getting kids into the habit of using a safe search engine, schools can help protect children from objectionable content online.
Of course, if the habit sticks, Microsoft could look forward to a new reliable user base both inside and outside the classroom. Google doesn’t offer a tailored experience for students.
Since every search on Bing earns a user points as part of the Bing Rewards program, Microsoft will actually let users donate their unused Bing Rewards Points to schools system that have signed up for the program. Once that school has reached 30,000 points Microsoft will give them a Surface RT free of charge. Users don’t have to have children who are enrolled in the school district to participate. Any user can just donate their points to participating school systems from the Bing Rewards site. According to Microsoft, 60 users donating their Bing Rewards Points can earn a school system one Surface RT tablet every month.
Each Surface RT tablet will include a full copy of Microsoft Office and a Surface Touch Cover.
Microsoft is also taking the opportunity to release some free tutorials and sample assignments for students, so that they can easily pick up some search engine best practices and tips.
Starting today, users can donate their points to Los Angeles Unified School District, Atlanta Public Schools, Fresno Unified School District and the Detroit Country Day School among others. Microsoft says it has around 800,000 students in the program already. It’s also taking requests for new schools.