Microsoft announces Minecraft Education Edition
January 19, 2016 // 1:20 p.m.
Microsoft has confirmed plans to release an education-centric build of popular block-'em-up Minecraft, which it will use to push schools towards its Office 365 platform.
Microsoft surprised the market in 2014 by paying a whopping £1.8 billion to acquire Minecraft and its creator Mojang outright, with company co-founder Markus Persson walking away with bulging pockets and no more responsibility. A year later it also picked up MinecraftEdu, a remix of the game designed specifically for schools, from developer TeacherGaming. Now, the reason why becomes clear: the impending launch of Minecraft Education Edition.
Microsoft has claimed that the technical nature of the game has left some schools struggling to implement it in the curriculum, although it quotes figures suggesting 7,000 classrooms globally have overcome this hurdle. Minecraft Education Edition will, the company has claimed, make things easier, with the prediction that deployments will skyrocket as a result.
There's a little something in it for Microsoft, too: rather than require Minecraft Education Edition users to have a Minecraft or traditional Microsoft account, the game will be tied into the company's Office 365 platform - turning the game into a neat Trojan horse for getting the cloud-powered communications and productivity service in the door ahead of similar offerings from rivals like Google.
The company has indicated that it will change a £3.50 annual fee per user, rather than the one-off fee of MinecraftEdu, with plans to offer a free beta test of the service in the summer ahead of a full rollout.