Microsoft will launch Minecraft: Education Edition in an early access program in June this year, the company's most confident step yet in making Mojang's game a common feature of classrooms all over the world.
Microsoft has been discussing the breadth of Minecraft's possible applications for quite some time, and it acquired MinecraftEdu from TeacherGaming in January this year. That deal was intended to serve as the foundation for an edition of Minecraft targeted at schools.
Since then, Microsoft has been working with a select group of educators, students and administrators to shape and refine the Education Edition. Next month, it will start a beta program with more than 100 schools in 30 countries worldwide as a way of gathering more detailed feedback from a variety of learning environments.
An early access version of Minecraft: Education Edition will be available to download, for free, in June. It will be available in 41 countries, localised in 11 languages, and Microsoft will be collaborating with participating educators to build lesson plans and project templates over the summer. User licenses will go on sale when the early access period has concluded.
You can learn more about Minecraft: Education Edition on its official website.
Microsoft acquired Minecraft and its developer, Mojang, for $2.5 billion in September 2014. Eyebrows were raised at the value of the deal, but this proves that Microsoft's ambitions for the product extend far beyond gaming. And it remains a commercial powerhouse, too, with a new report from The New York Times revealing that it still sells 10,000 units a day across its various iterations.