Microsoft sets out ad-free Bing vision for schools

Internet search

Microsoft has set out plans to offer schools access to an ad-free version of its Bing search engine that will automatically filter out adult content too.

The Bing for Schools initiative is being piloted in the US, and is designed to allow students to take advantage of its search technology in a safer and more secure way.

The vendor announced the move in a Bing blog post. In it Microsoft revealed that several US schools have already signed up to the service, before going on to encourage others to follow suit.

Ninety-one per cent of educators believe that content focusing on digital literacy should be incorporated into every school's curriculum.

Those that do will be offered access to a reworked version of the Microsoft search engine, which will be free of adverts, feature enhanced privacy controls and will boast filters to help block adult content.

In the past, the firm has criticised rival search giant Google for including adverts in the online services it provides to schools, and has backed legislation to ban the use of Google Apps in schools for this reason.

Matt Wallaert, a Bing behavioral scientist at Microsoft, said the programme is being introduced because of how reliant children are on the internet to complete their school work.

"Bing for Schools isn't just about giving schools the choice to have an ad-free, safer, privacy-enhanced search experience," Wallaert wrote in a blog post.

"The internet has become a vital part of our society and...91 per cent of educators believe that content focusing on digital literacy should be incorporated into every school's curriculum," he added.

Participating schools may also be able to take advantage of the Microsoft Bing Rewards programme to acquire a Surface RT for every 30,000 credits they accrue.

The programme was set up by Microsoft to reward users with points every time they use Bing to search the web and for trying out new features the firm rolls out.

"Any schools can receive Bing Rewards credits they don't have to be enrolled in the official Bing for Schools ad-free search programme," Wallaert advised.

"We'll aggregate the credits for everyone supporting each school and when they reach 30,000 credits, we'll convert those into a Microsoft Surface RT tablet with Touch Cover that will be sent directly to the school."

The company said only a limited number of schools will be admitted to the pilot programme, but the firm said it intends to expand the initiative as time goes on.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.