After one year in beta, Microsof’s Bing For Schools initiative has opened up to all US schools serving students K-12. The program provides an altered search experience with Bing that is ad-free and also more controlled with extra content filters and privacy settings.
During the beta 4.5 million students in the five largest school districts entered into Bing For Schools. That might be a lot of students but so far, Microsoft has only filled 35 million queries through the service. The low search query figure may be a by-product of a lack of computer time in classrooms. If students aren’t actually going online, it’s a bit difficult for them to use Bing.
However, during the past couple of months, Microsoft says that the search queries have been adding up faster than before. Now, around 1 million are made each day, and that number should continue to grow with more schools and students involved.
The program isn’t just about providing a more effective search engine for students, it is also away for schools to earn Surface tablets. They might be the first-generation version of the Surface, but Microsoft is still giving them away for free with Bing Rewards.
As searches are made with the Bing For Schools search engine, Rewards points add up and once 30,000 are accumulated a school can receive a free tablet. Based upon the amount of searches that have been completed thus far, only a few dozen tablets have gone out, but that was during the beta.
Microsoft’s Matt Wallaert, who created the program, said that although the regular Bing search engine is monetized and runs off of advertisements, schools are not the place for that. Instead, classrooms should not have to deal with ads when students and teachers are trying to complete education-related tasks.
There is obviously another motive for Microsoft’s program and that is to get more young people using Bing. Right now, Google rules and basically has no competitors but if Microsoft can turn people into Bing users early on, its search engine may be able to put up a fight.
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Summary: Bing For Schools, an ad-free version of the search engine, is moving out of beta. All US K-12 schools can now adopt it.
image credit: microsoft