| SAN FRANCISCO
SAN FRANCISCO Aug 21 The long-running rivalry
between Microsoft Corp and Google Inc is
turning into a schoolyard brawl.
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
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,"
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.
In recent months Microsoft has ramped up allegations posted
to its "Scroogled" website, including claims that Google
violates its users' trust by scanning emails to target ads.
Microsoft has also backed promotion of a "Do Not Track" protocol
that would discourage online ad targeting.
"People just don't think it's appropriate to show ads to
children in a learning environment," Weitz said.
A Google spokesman declined to immediately comment.
While Microsoft relies heavily on software sales, more than
95 percent of Google's revenue come from ads, and a significant
portion of that comes from its dominant search engine.
JOSTLING IN CLASSROOMS
Google and Microsoft have also been vying to get schools to
adopt their productivity software. Google has been offering a
discount for its Google Apps suite, which it hopes can replace
programs such as Microsoft Word on school computers.
Tech companies, led by Apple Inc, have also
competed fiercely to get hardware into the classroom, even while
academic studies are divided over the effectiveness of gadgets
in improving student performance.
Following Apple, Google in December announced a program to
give its Chromebook computers to schools for $99 each. Six
months later, Microsoft began offering its Surface RT tablet to
educational institutions for $199, a discount of more than 50
As part of the Bing campaign, school districts whose
students use the Microsoft search engine win points, which they
can redeem for Surface tablets.
Aleigha Henderson-Rosser, the director of instructional
technology at Atlanta Public Schools, said she had no qualms
about receiving aid from tech companies. Atlanta schools will
not be paid money to participate in the Bing program, she said.
Henderson-Rosser said she will try to rally parents to use
Bing to help win Surface tablets for schools that cannot afford
"I'm seeing it as a community effort to fill in the gaps,"
she said. "What school is going to turn down tablets for our