Microsoft Unveils Slate of New Education Products Designed to Focus Student Efforts on Quality of Work, and Improve Security and Manageability of Shared School PCs

PHILADELPHIA — June 28, 2005 — After years of working closely with educators, students, parents and education publishers, Microsoft Corp. today unveiled at the National Education Computing Conference (NECC) four new academic-specific products designed to address everyday challenges in teaching and learning, and improve the use of technology in schools. Available in time for the upcoming school year, Learning Essentials for Microsoft® Office, Microsoft Shared Computer Toolkit for Windows® XP, Microsoft Student 2006 and Microsoft Encarta® Academic Online will enable teachers to optimize their preparation time, allow students to concentrate on producing high-quality assignments, and simplify the setup and maintenance of instructional computers.

“U.S. schools are spending more than $5 billion a year on technology, and there are now nearly 13 million instructional computers in schools. It is imperative that an investment of this magnitude result in improved teaching and learning,” said Craig Bartholomew, general manager of the Education Products Group at Microsoft. “By working closely with educators, students, parents and education partners to better understand the kind of work they do, how they use technology and how their everyday experience with technology can be improved, Microsoft has made academic-specific innovations designed to bring relevant, immediate and unmatched value to schools.”

Learning Essentials for Microsoft Office

Starting in July 2005, schools that subscribe to a Microsoft Academic Volume Licensing program for Microsoft Office will be automatically licensed to use Learning Essentials for Microsoft Office at no additional cost.* Learning Essentials, which runs atop any version of Office XP or Office 2003, provides students and teachers with a customized Office environment with tools to help them start and complete assignments more efficiently and intuitively. Learning Essentials includes a variety of Office-based tools for both students and teachers, including the following:

  • Customizable starting windows help students and teachers quickly start common assignments and tasks.

  • Newly designed context-specific toolbars bring to the surface key Office functions that are especially useful in education, such as a bibliography guide, equation editor and foreign-language tools.

  • Tutorials and project assistance from leading education publishers such as Axia NetMedia Corp.’s Intelligence Online; Great Source Education Group, a division of Houghton Mifflin Co.; McGraw-Hill Education; Pearson Prentice Hall; SchoolKiT; and Tom Snyder Productions Inc., a Scholastic company, guide students and offer educators best teaching practices for relevant academic strategies.

  • More than 180 templates in Microsoft Office Word, Excel® and PowerPoint® include embedded project assistance and checklists that help students write reports, create presentations and even apply to colleges, and help teachers create handouts, try new strategies and expedite administrative tasks.

“The templates encourage students to do the work of writing and preparing charts and presentations by easing the burden of production,” said Gayle Smith, mathematics teacher at Mount Si High School in Snoqualmie, Wash., and one of more than 100 teachers and students who tested the product’s new features. “Students can concentrate on the content of their work.” Based on their Academic Volume Licensing agreement, customers can obtain Learning Essentials for Microsoft Office media as a download or on CD.*

Shared Computer Toolkit for Windows XP

Today Microsoft released the public beta version of the Microsoft Shared Computer Toolkit for Windows XP, a powerful combination of software tools and documentation that will help optimize computers running genuine versions of Windows XP for shared environments. Customers can now download the public beta for evaluation from Microsoft is scheduled to launch version 1.0 of the Shared Computer Toolkit later this summer, just in time for school libraries and computer labs to prepare for the new school year.

“Personal computers are optimized for individual use,” Bartholomew said. “It’s not surprising that one of the school IT management issues we hear about most often is the difficulty of maintaining a uniform and secure configuration, because of students’ tendency to download unknown material, run unauthorized software, and tamper with system settings on computers used by many students. This new product was specifically developed and designed with the needs of the shared computer environment of schools in mind.”

The Shared Computer Toolkit is expected to help reduce the total cost of owning and operating shared Windows XP-based computers by making them easier to configure, more reliable and less difficult to maintain. Specifically, the Shared Computer Toolkit provides new technologies and expert advice that will help defend shared computers from untrusted users, viruses and spyware; help restrict untrusted users from accessing system settings and data; and help enhance the end-user experience.

The Shared Computer Toolkit is intended for customers who operate shared computers in school computer labs, public libraries, Internet cafes or other shared locations. It requires no server infrastructure to use and was designed to be easy for anyone to use, regardless of their IT background. To download the Shared Computer Toolkit, customers will need to verify that they are running a genuine copy of Windows XP through the Windows Genuine Advantage process.

Microsoft Student 2006

Microsoft Student 2006 is the first comprehensive productivity resource of its kind designed to help middle- and high-school students complete high-quality homework assignments and projects.

The new software product guides students through the learning process by offering subject-specific tools that can help them achieve academic success. Features include groundbreaking Graphing Calculator software to help students visualize and understand difficult math and science concepts through two- and three-dimensional graphing capabilities. Microsoft Student also includes Learning Essentials for Microsoft Office, providing students with curriculum-based templates and tutorials that offer step-by-step instructions for a variety of subjects — from history to English and foreign languages to science. Additional tools streamline Internet searches to provide trusted Encarta content, ensuring students are using accurate, up-to-date information.

Microsoft Student is expected to be available in retail stores this July and for Academic Volume Licensing in August.

Encarta Academic Online

On Aug. 3, 2005, Microsoft plans to launch Encarta Academic Online Edition, a new academic-specific, online version of its award-winning reference library, suite of homework tools and rich multimedia content. Encarta Academic Online features a new interface optimized for academic searches and gives students one-click access to Encarta reference content in seven languages for 11 countries.

According to an internal Microsoft study from the 2003–2004 school year, 84 percent of schools prefer secure, reliable online access to reference products rather than CD- or DVD-based products. For schools, online reference products are more accessible, more up to date, and easier to install and use. With Encarta Academic Online, schools can offer their teachers and students access to an online reference with the quality, reliability and multimedia content anywhere and anytime a student has access to a computer.

An Encarta Academic Online subscription is available to academic institutions through Microsoft’s Academic Volume Licensing programs. Existing academic subscribers to MSN® Encarta Premium will automatically be switched over to Encarta Academic Online.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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