Microsoft is making a reduced-price version of its ARM-based Surface RT tablet/PC available directly to schools and universities for two months this summer.
The "Microsoft Surface for education limited-time offer" will be available between June 17 and August 31, 2013, according to a brochure detailing the program. Under the program, Surface RTs without keyboards will go for $199 (normal estimated retail price is $499). With a touch keyboard, the discounted price is $249 (estimated retail price is $599), and with a type keyboard the discounted price is $289 (estimated retail price is $629).
The offer is available direct from Microsoft to K12 and higher education institutions. It is available to schools in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China (via Digital China), Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States.
There is no minimum order requirement. Microsoft is recommending that schools get their orders in early as it is a "while supplies last" kind of deal.
Microsoft company officials have not said how many Surfaces they made or how many they've sold to date, but a number of company watchers believe Microsoft ordered too many Surface RTs, based on the demand level for the ARM-based versions of its devices.
Update: It looks like Microsoft has pulled the information on the Surface RT discount program. I am betting it went out just a bit early. Here's what I captured before the details were erased:
Update No. 2: It turns out the information is, indeed, valid. But the deal won't be live until June 24, a spokesperson said. (Note: update on the start date added below.)
The official statement: "Yes, it’s true. It’s important Microsoft does its part to help get devices into the hands of educators that help prepare today’s students with skills modern businesses demand. We will be discussing this more in greater detail on June 24, both from the ISTE showroom floor and on our Education Newsroom. Please join us then!"
Update No. 3 (June 18): In spite of the June 24 date in the spokesperson's statement, the deal actually did go live on June 17, the same spokesperson told me on June 18. It's not clear why the original post and brochure for ordering by schools was removed. But one of my readers did save the order form (which he said he was sent by Microsoft recently). Here it is.