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Microsoft to Offer Teachers Hardware, Software Discounts

Following Comcast's launch last week of a nationwide discounted Internet service for financially disadvantaged students, Microsoft announced today a program that will give teachers throughout New York State access to discounts for technology purchases.

The program, called Tech4Teachers, will run through New York State Teacher Centers and give the centers' paying members access to an online catalog of discounted Microsoft software and various manufacturers' PCs, laptops, slates, and tablets. The steeper discounts appear to be on software products, on which a cut of 50 percent or more off the retail price appears to be the norm.

Microsoft, along with help from computer semiconductor chip manufacturer Intel, hope to scale the program nationally, according to a press release, though no specifics of such plans have been announced.

Both public and private school teachers who belong to the centers will have access to the catalog, as well as teachers completing their preservice education. And Microsoft Partners in Learning will team with Intel Teach to offer professional development through the centers.

The program is an extension of Microsoft's Shape the Future program, announced last week with the stated goal of providing 1 million U.S. students from low-income families with access to discounted hardware, software, and broadband Internet service.

Like Comcast's Internet Essentials program, which will offer $9.95 monthly broadband Internet service to families whose children are eligible for free lunch through the National School Lunch Program, Shape the Future has also been pushed by the Federal Communications Commission, which under Chairman Julius Genachowski's leadership has made extending technology access to students a major priority.

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