Microsoft is rolling out a custom version of Bing this week tailored specifically for classrooms. School administrators can enable an ad-free version of Bing with always-on SafeSearch — Microsoft's web security and adult content filtering — and daily literacy lesson plans. A pilot program kicked off last August and more than 4.5 million children in more than 5,000 schools have been using the special version of Bing ever since. Today’s roll out means any school in the US can sign-up to enable Bing in the Classroom.

Microsoft clearly wants schools to move off Google

While Bing will remain largely the same with this custom version, Microsoft’s roll out is clearly aimed at convincing schools to move away from using Google. The search giant doesn’t offer a comparable service to counter Bing in the Classroom, but it does have special versions of Google Play and Google Apps for schools. Neither provide ad-free search though, which isn’t surprising given Google makes more than 90 percent of its revenue from advertising. Microsoft is essentially targeting Google directly in schools by offering filtering and restrictions in a service that Google doesn't provide itself. While Google offers limited YouTube access and search filters, it's usually trivial for students to switch content filters off unless school administrations have configured them correctly or have additional filtering software installed.

Microsoft is also providing a Bing Rewards program to let Bing users earn credits towards free Surface tablets for schools of their choice. Each school will be rewarded a Surface RT when they reach 30,000 credits, which Microsoft says is the equivalent of around 60 Bing users using the service regularly for a month.