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Originally published January 23, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified January 23, 2008 at 2:31 AM


Microsoft backs education program

Microsoft said Tuesday it's renewing a commitment to an education program called Partners in Learning. The company pledged $235.5 million over the next...

Seattle Times technology reporter

Microsoft said Tuesday it's renewing a commitment to an education program called Partners in Learning.

The company pledged $235.5 million over the next five years to the program, which it started with $250 million in 2003.

During that time, more than 90 million students and teachers in 101 countries have participated in programs to put more technology at their disposal through training and discounted software sales.

Microsoft hopes to triple the scope of Partners in Learning in the next five years, part of an effort announced in April to expand the company's reach to an additional 1 billion people by 2015. It's called Unlimited Potential.

"I think UP is the embodiment of how we see the corporation of the future thinking through what we call doing well by doing good, which means everybody should benefit," said Orlando Ayala, senior vice president of emerging markets for Microsoft.

He pointed to successes such as an online network for teachers around the world to share ideas. A Swedish teacher used it and other Partners in Learning programs to connect her students with students in Madagascar to study biodiversity, he said.

As part of this program, Microsoft in April introduced a Student Innovation Suite available for $3 per license to governments buying Windows PCs for students, including basic versions of Windows XP, Office 2007 and learning programs.

Ayala said Microsoft, in partnership with Intel and others, has inked deals to distribute more than a million copies of the software: 1 million in Russia; 15,000 in Libya, with ongoing negotiations for 150,000 more; and 50,000 in Mexico with help from Carlos Slim, who at one time last year rivaled Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates as the richest person on earth.

Gates is expected to discuss the Partners in Learning effort further at the Microsoft-hosted Government Leaders Forum in Berlin on Wednesday.

Benjamin J. Romano: 206-464-2149 or

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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