Microsoft has announced that its "Bing in the Classroom" program is exiting beta and will now be free to access for any school system. The service allows students to search the Web without being bothered with ads or adult content.
The program originally launched in beta form last year as "Bing for schools," but apparently the necessary testing and tweaking has been finished. Now any school can opt in, making searching the Internet just a little bit less risky.
In addition to removing ads (making it easier to find actual articles on, say, the triceratops), the classroom version of Bing filters the results with the strongest version of SafeSearch, excluding the usual off-color sites that come up for just about any query.
Furthermore, "enhanced privacy settings" are used, lest anyone think Microsoft is applying the search habits of youngsters to its ad database. Even so, teachers and administrators may want to inspect these settings themselves.
Schools can also earn credits toward getting a free Surface tablet, though whether teachers will suggest kids "take advantage of exclusive offers" to accumulate "Bing Rewards" is doubtful.
Fortunately, there's not much risk. It's easy to sign up for and test drive if you're not sure whether it's for your classroom.