Microsoft offers ad-free Bing for the classroom
By Gerry Shih, ReutersSAN FRANCISCO--The long-running rivalry between Microsoft Corp. and Google Inc. is turning into a schoolyard brawl.
August 22, 2013, 12:04 am TWN
Microsoft on Wednesday opened a new front against the world's No 1 search provider by piloting an ad-free offering for educational users of Bing, its search engine that for years has trailed Google.
Under the free program called “Bing for Schools,” students in participating school districts will no longer see ads or adult content when they do Internet searches.
Microsoft, which has signed up the Los Angeles Unified School District and Atlanta Public Schools among other school districts, has pitched Bing as an alternative at a time of rising public concern over how Internet companies are tracking their users' every move to target the ads they display.
As part of the program, Microsoft will also offer free Surface tablets and course materials for teaching youngsters about Internet use.
Stefan Weitz, Microsoft's director of search, said the program would help expose young users to Microsoft products.
“We hope that we demonstrate the quality of Bing to teachers and students and also their parents, and once they see how good it is, we hope to see increased usage outside of schools too,” Weitz said.
Bing, with 18 percent of the search market share, has long trailed Google, at 67 percent, according to data from ComScore, despite an aggressive effort to close the gap.
Microsoft's move is the latest sign that technology companies are targeting the education market as a way to reach children who will become the next generation of consumers.
The new Bing campaign, framed in the context of privacy concerns, is part of a broad, anti-Google marketing campaign directed by a team of political consultants including Mark Penn, long-time adviser to Bill and Hillary Clinton.