Back in January, Microsoft announced that it had acquired MinecraftEdu in an effort to create a new platform aimed at school teachers: Minecraft Education Edition. Microsoft initially said that Minecraft Education Edition would be available this summer, and the software giant is sticking to that promise with May/June launch windows.
The beta will launch in two waves -- starting in May, Microsoft will launch a closed beta in 100 schools scattered across 30 countries. Microsoft will use this small-scale rollout to tweak Minecraft Education Edition and prepare it for a more wide-scale release.
Then in June, Microsoft will open up an early access program that is available for even more educators to download and try for free as a beta, which will be available in 11 languages in 41 countries. Microsoft is likely hoping that by giving teachers and administrators “just a little taste” during the summer, they’ll have enough of Minecraft goodness running through their veins to come back for the paid version.
Once that summer trial is complete, educators will be able to purchase a license for Minecraft Education Edition online, while volume licenses will be available for school districts that want a wider rollout of the software.
“During the summer months, we are also going to be focused on working with educators on building out lesson plans, sharing learning activity ideas, and creating re-usable projects,” Microsoft writes. “If you are new to Minecraft, or if you aren’t sure where to start in bringing Minecraft into your classroom and incorporating into your curriculum, the early access program is going to be a great way to familiarize yourself with Minecraft Education Edition.”
Minecraft Education Edition will initially be available on machines running Windows 10 and OS X El Capitan. So if your school computers are running earlier versions of Windows (which is highly likely) Microsoft is giving yet another incentive for school districts to make the upgrade to Windows 10. Teachers will also be able to sign up for a free Office 365 Education account at the same time using their work email account.