With the Mojang buy, Microsoft will have an automatic presence in two hot and growing areas of importance in K-12 schools: STEM education, and game-based learning. It could choose to:
- Maintain the licensing and direct support relationship for TeacherGaming’s MinecraftEdu,
- Distribute Minecraft directly to schools as a Microsoft Education initiative (perhaps also buying TeacherGaming), or
- Let education-specific efforts wither as it pursues world domination in mass market video games.
Early indications are somewhat promising, if not yet specific.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s activities notwithstanding, Microsoft’s past in edu is checkered, to say the least. While Microsoft’s new CEO Satya Nadella indirectly confirmed that Ballmer’s departure marked the end of Microsoft’s platform-centric “domination” strategy, it will take time until we know whether that’s just marketing lingo or a real change of heart.
Remember the time when education was one of Apple’s rare strongholds and Microsoft proposed to pay out $1.1 billion in legal settlements from a class action law suit “in Microsoft software to needy schools”?
Be wary, we should.