Microsoft punts reduced-cost Windows 8 devices for schoolkids

Microsoft has launched a scheme to knock 30 percent off Windows 8 devices for UK schools, while Steve Ballmer has paid a visit to Downing Street to promote a new programme to tackle youth unemployment.

Britain's kids will have access to cheaper Windows 8 devices, after Microsoft launched a scheme to knock 30 percent of the price of tablets and laptops for UK schools.

Microsoft's Shape the Future scheme will knock 30 percent off the regular price of Windows 8 devices to help give British schoolkids better access to technology. Image: RM Education

Microsoft's 'Shape The Future' initiative, launched on Monday, aims to provide devices to British schools that can be used on a 1:1 basis: this means that pupils will have their own computer they can borrow for home use throughout the school year.

"Shape the Future has the power to put knowledge in the hands of children. That knowledge empowers them to shape their own future," said Microsoft's Joice Fernandes in a statement. "I'm thrilled that we are now bringing this programme to the UK."

The scheme already exists in 56 counties with a reach of some 21 million students, according to Microsoft. Under the Shape The Future programme, devices are shipped with educational software and programs such as Microsoft Office Professional installed. The programme is being run in the UK in conjunction with Intel and RM Education.

"We all know how technology can deliver learning that is more exciting, more engaging and more effective," said Mike Allen, managing director of RM Education. "Just imagine what we could achieve if every child, regardless of background, had their own device."

The three companies cited research from PriceWaterhouseCoopers that 1:1 computing can help a student earn £300,000 more over the course of their lifetime, through the impact that easy access to technology has on their education.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Microsoft launched its Get On UK programme. This three-year scheme to tackle youth unemployment in the UK aims to help some 300,000 young people aged between 16 and 24 through a mixture of training, apprenticeships and work experience.

Steve Ballmer visits David Cameron at Downing Street
Steve Ballmer visited David Cameron at Downing Street for the launch of Microsoft's Get On UK scheme. Image: Microsoft

To accompany the launch, Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer visited David Cameron at 10 Downing Street. "Microsoft's 'Get On' campaign is exactly the kind of support we need from business to inspire, provide skills, and create meaningful opportunities in the industries that will drive our economy forward in the future," the prime minister said.