Taking a page from the Apple playbook, Microsoft this week revealed special new educational pricing for its Surface with Windows RT tablet. But this isn’t a tiny savings like you see at the Apple Store for Education: With Surface RT, at least, Microsoft is offering schools “Crazy Eddie” pricing.
“Microsoft has a long tradition of offering special pricing to educational customers,” a Q&A about the deal notes. “Microsoft’s mission in education is to help schools, students, and educators realize their full potential. We do this [by] investing in educational institutions through software, hardware, and services at affordable prices. We think Surface RT is a terrific tool for teaching and learning, and we want students and educators to have the best technology on the market today.”
Normally retailing for $499, an entry-level Surface RT with 32GB of internal storage will be made available to K-12 (kindergarten through the 12th grade) and higher education institutions in numerous markets—Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China (via Digital China), Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States—through August 31, 2013, or until supplies run out. (More on that in a bit.)
Two other Surface RT versions will be offered with similar discounts. A 32GB model with Touch Keyboard Cover, normally $599, can be had for just $249. And a 32GB model with Type Keyboard Cover that retails for $629 will be offered to the educational market for only $289.
The offer appears to be directed solely at educational institutions and not at individual students or educators.
In a Q&A, Microsoft touts the more than 20,000 “educationally relevant” mobile apps that are available for Windows RT, as well as its free bundled and “touch-optimized” version of Microsoft Office 2013, which includes versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and, soon, Outlook.
There’s no minimum purchase, Microsoft says, but the firm recommends that “schools get their orders in early to take advantage of the offer while supplies last.” The suspicion here is that Microsoft is quietly relieving itself of Surface RT stock in anticipation of a second generation of Surface devices that could launch this fall. The firm has been selling Surface RT—and the more desirable Surface Pro, which runs Windows 8—at fire-sale prices at recent events such as TechEd.
News of the deal was leaked this week along with the sale brochure and then pulled by Microsoft. But the firm has told Mary Jo Foley that it will officially begin the sale publicly next week. “We will be discussing this more in greater detail on June 24, both from the ISTE showroom floor and on our Education Newsroom,” a Microsoft representative said. “Please join us then.”
(There’s no word on whether educational institutions will also be offered Surface Pro at discount pricing.)