New Microsoft CD-ROM Gives K-12 Schools Free Communications Tools To Build Connected Learning Communities

REDMOND, Wash., Dec. 2, 1996 — In an important step toward building better communication between schools, homes and communities and expanding learning opportunities through the Internet, Microsoft Corporation today announced a free collection of powerful communications and Internet tools designed specially for K-12 schools using Windows NT Ò Server 4.0. Incorporating innovative technology from Microsoft and other industry leaders, Microsoft Ò Communications Tools for Schools CD-ROM is the only communications solution available that incorporates education-specific templates and wizards, e-mail, video conferencing software, and Internet publishing tools to help schools become fully Connected Learning Communities.

Digi International Inc.; The ForeFront Group, Inc.; Kent Marsh Ltd., a Citadel company; Logicraft Information Systems, Inc.; NETCOM On-Line Communication Services, Inc.; and White Pine Software, Inc. have all contributed technology to this first-ever comprehensive communications tool kit for schools. Using new custom education templates and easy-to-use administrative
schools with Windows Ò -based PCs and/or Macintosh computers can easily establish e-mail communications between teachers and parents; create and manage professional-quality Web sites to publish school announcements, homework assignments and more; and manage efficient school and districtwide networks.
“Educators tell us that it’s essential to have easy-to-use and cost-effective tools to increase access to technology for students and teachers and to encourage greater parental and community involvement in education,”
said Kathryn Yates, director of Microsoft K-12 programs.
“With network and communications connections within and between schools, between schools and homes, and between schools and the vast learning resources available via the Internet, any school now can become a dynamic, limitless, interactive learning environment that we call the ‘Connected Learning Community.'”
Parents, too, value increased communications with schools through technology links. In a recent survey by PC Watch, a service of TechScan, Inc., King of Prussia, Pa., 79 percent of all parents, those with computers at home as well as those with none, said that access to a school bulletin board from home was important. Most (73 percent) also rated the ability to exchange e-mail between home and school as important. Available now through Aug. 31, 1997, the Microsoft Communications Tools for Schools CD brings together the leading products of innovators in the computer software and hardware industry to provide every component a school needs to be fully connected to its students, teachers, families, community and the Internet. With this unique tool set and Windows NT Server 4.0, schools can:

  • Install and customize e-mail and Windows NT Server accounts with new education-specific how-to wizards, including importing user lists and automatic set-up of mail accounts, permissions and more. A comprehensive
    “Getting Started”
    guide plus a complete
    “Network Blueprint”
    help schools discover how to save hours, even days, in setting up or updating accounts and how they can best implement district and school networks.

  • Extend the already outstanding cross-platform capabilities of Windows NT Server with Logicraft’s new CD-HFS for NT, the Macintosh Installable File System that provides full network access to Macintosh CD-ROMs.

  • Create and manage a professional Web site without programming using new templates for Microsoft FrontPage (included with Windows NT Server 4.0). The Communications Tools for School education Web template provides a tailor-made school Web site with special areas for school announcements, student and teacher home pages, community information and more.

  • Use Internet-standards-based MailSrv with the Windows NT Server to provide e-mail services for all user accounts from a variety of mail clients, including Microsoft Internet Mail and QUALCOMM’s Eudora Light (both included in Communications Tools for Schools).

  • Use real-time, person-to-person or group communications via the Internet or a school network with White Pine’s award-winning desktop video conferencing software, Enhanced CU-SeeMe, and CU-SeeMe Reflector for 10 users.

  • Collaborate with colleagues via real-time Internet voice communications with Microsoft NetMeeting, the Internet phone voice communications client that combines the power of the PC with the global reach of the Internet to allow two or more users to work together and share applications over the Internet or the school intranet.

  • Use Microsoft Internet Explorer for the best-possible browsing experience for students and staff.

  • Download Web pages or entire sites with ForeFront’s WebWhacker, for off-line browsing without an Internet connection, and use WebPrinter to easily transform favorite Web pages into attractive booklets.

  • Control and simplify Windows 95-based desktops with WinShield from Kent Marsh Ltd., an easy solution to protect against deliberate configuration damage, software piracy, unsupervised surfing on the Internet and more (demonstration copy included).

And, Communications Tools for Schools includes options for complete school connections. Schools can use their existing Internet lines or

  • Make all of these resources available from outside the school with Digi International’s exclusive 50 percent education discount offer on multiline dial-in access hardware solution.

  • For schools not yet connected to the Internet, NETCOM, a leading national Internet Service Provider, is offering half-price installation for dedicated line services and special flat-rate pricing for education.

Add to this a selection of viewers and authoring tools for popular Microsoft applications and schools have the most powerful collection of communication resources available anywhere designed specially for the learning environment.

Pat Crawford, technology facilitator for the Region VIII Education Service Center (ESC), Mt. Pleasant, Texas, tested Microsoft Communications Tools for Schools with teachers in his ESC lab and is recommending it to any of the 48 schools he works with in northeast Texas that may be planning an Internet connection. Remote access to school files from home, off-line browsing of preselected Web sites and cross-platform capabilities linking both PCs and Macintosh computers make this a rich resource for schools, Crawford said.

“These tools are so easy to use anyone familiar with Windows will be able to pick up and run with it,”
said Crawford, who plans to convert the ESC Internet services to a Windows NT Server 4.0 with Communications Tools for Schools and set up another demonstration site at a school 40 miles away.
“It’s easy – easy to understand, set up and manage. Teachers don’t need extensive training to get started.”

Chris Ickles, Instructional Technology Specialist for the Region XVI Education Service Center, Amarillo, Texas, said the ease of use allows educators to control their own communications with parents and the community, which is especially important in rural areas. Rather than relying on an outside service provider, teachers can create Web documents themselves, said Ickles, who has introduced teachers to easy Web page creation with Communications Tools for Schools.

“An important part of education that too often is missed is communicating with the local community,”
he said, noting that this is an option any school setting up a new server should consider.
“Microsoft Communications Tools for Schools gives local districts a presence on the Internet without draining their resources to train or pay someone to create a Web site. It’s hard to beat; the CD-ROM is a great offer.”

Communications Tools for Schools CD-ROM is available free to K-12 schools in North America with proof of purchase of Windows NT Server 4.0. Shipping and handling charges will apply (U.S., $9.95; Canada, $14.95 per unit). The Communications Tools for Schools CD is limited to one per school. This offer is valid in North America only for use by K-12 U.S. districts, Canadian school boards or North American schools and is good only while supplies last or until Aug. 31, 1997. For more information and to order Microsoft Communications Tools for Schools, visit the Microsoft K-12 Web site at Dell Computer also is making the Communications Tools for Schools offer available to schools that purchase its K-12 server running Windows NT Server 4.0.

Communications Tools for Schools is part of Microsoft’s continuing initiative to help build a global
“Connected Learning Community”
in which all students, educators and parents have access to technology and the tools and skills to use information effectively today and for a lifetime. Microsoft is committed to providing the high-quality software and services needed to make the best use of technology in education.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

This press release is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY. Microsoft, FrontPage, NetMeeting, Windows and Windows NT are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. Other product names mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

NOTE TO EDITORS: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft please check out the Microsoft Web page at on Microsoft’s corporate information pages.

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