On Tuesday, Microsoft Corp.MSFT announced that it is acquiring MinecraftEdu - a special version of Minecraft specifically designed for classrooms - from Teacher Gaming LLC. Microsoft plans to roll out Minecraft Education Edition based on MinecraftEdu.
The Redmond-based company will only buy the MinecraftEdu line, while the parent company will continue to operate in Finland and New York.
The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Minecraft lets users build as well as explore a computer-generated open world made of blocks. For instance, students who are interested in the Pyramids of Giza can use Minecraft to explore the pyramids.
The MinecraftEdu deal comes after Microsoft's acquisition of Sweden-based Mojang, the creator of Minecraft, for $2.5 billion in Sep 2014.
Microsoft expects to offer a free trial of the "new and expanded" Minecraft Education Edition this summer.
In a blog post on Tuesday, Anthony Salcito, Microsoft's vice president of worldwide education said, "Minecraft Education Edition will be shaped by a growing community of educators throughout its development this spring and through the educator community online at http://education.minecraft.net"
As per Matt Booty, teachers find it difficult to purchase and configure Minecraft in their classrooms. Until recently, it required them to buy the software via a purchase order made out to its original inventor, Mojang.
Booty is of the opinion that purchasing the educational version "makes it easier and more streamlined for teachers and educators to get Minecraft in the classroom. If a school can piggyback on its existing arrangement with Microsoft for other software that we already make available to schools, it just makes it easier."
For now, MinecraftEdu customers can continue to use the product till Minecraft Education Edition is ready. Once available, existing customers will get one-year free subscription to Minecraft Education Edition. Microsoft will charge $5 per student each year.
Microsoft is investing heavily in gaming as it is a huge money-maker, particularly in the mobile space. The company has positioned Minecraft as its productivity software and service offering targeted at the education market.
Several tech giants have made similar efforts to reach out to classrooms. Apple's laptops and iPads were used in one-computer, one-student classrooms. A popular video game like Minecraft could be just what Microsoft needs to get its software to students.
Microsoft currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).
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