In battle for the classroom, Microsoft to launch ad-free ‘Bing for Schools’

When it comes to web tools for the classroom, Microsoft’s Bing (s MSFT) is stepping up its game. On Monday, the tech giant’s search arm said that it was rolling out a school-specific version of Bing and a digital literacy program as part of a new ‘Bing for Schools’ initiative.
The company didn’t disclose too many details. But, in a blog post, it said that the free and voluntary program, which will kick off later this year, will enable schools to use an ad-free version of Bing that includes enhanced privacy protections and the filtering of adult content. (Its SafeSearch option already filters out adult content, but Bing for Schools will make this the default setting and prevent kids from changing it.)

As a country, we’ve set schools aside as a special place that is focused on learning, and have traditionally kept advertising out of that environment,” the company said. “Bing For Schools removes ads from the search experience, keeping with our strong belief that schools are for learning and not selling.”

Aside from the search-related features, Bing plans to provide lesson plans on digital literacy that are tied to the Common Core state standards.
Given Google’s (s GOOG) raft of school-specific features and services, it makes sense that Microsoft feels the need to boost its own profile among educators. Google offers a SafeSearch mode for filtering out adult content and an option for encrypting student searches, but it doesn’t strip out its ads. Beyond search products, the company’s Apps for Education reach more than 20 million teachers and students and at its developer conference last month, it announced a dedicated Android app store for educators.
Separately, Microsoft also said Monday that 34 additional school districts had decided to use Windows 8, bringing the total to 44.