Microsoft has launched a new ad-free search product, Bing for Schools, with an incentive program that rewards schools with free Surface RT tablets.
The new pilot program, currently for the US only, offers schools a search engine tailored for education, and to encourage interest in joining it, Microsoft is integrating its incentive program, Bing Rewards, which will let schools earn Surface RTs.
Given the dissatisfaction that older Windows users seem to have with RTs lack of backwards compatibility, younger students may be one group that have fewer objections to its limitations, and give Microsoft a chance to put its spare Surface RT inventory to good use.
The program allows anyone who wants to support a particular school — not just parents and teachers — to contribute their Bing Rewards points to them accumulate enough credits to earn a Surface RT with a Touch Cover.
While the points aren't necessarily easy to earn, according to Microsoft, around 60 Bing Rewards users can earn a Surface RT in a month. At Microsoft's current discounted school rate, the devices would be worth $249 each.
Microsoft will aggregate the rewards of a school's supporters and when they reach 30,000, converts those into a Surface RT tablet with a Touch Cover that is sent to the school.
A handful of schools representing 800,000 students have joined Microsoft's Bing for Schools pilot. As well as removing all advertisements from search results, the search engine automatically applies a filter to help block adult content and features added privacy protection.
School districts are being invited to register for Microsoft’s search pilot now, but only a limited number will be accepted to join the initial pilot, while non-pilot schools will be notified about future eligibility.