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Ad-free Bing for the classroom, but is it just a marketing ploy by Microsoft?

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Microsoft wants to be the go-to online search engine for students and is offering an ad-free version of Bing to K-12 educational institutions that it claims provides a safer web search experience for youths.

The program, "Bing in the Classroom," was initially deployed in a pilot program at five large school districts. It features a strict filtering feature to block any racy or inappropriate content.

So far, according to Microsoft, the program is now being used by hundreds of school districts and accessible to 4.5 million students.

The news comes as Microsoft continues its quest to be on par with Google and other longtime search players. Just last week Microsoft rolled out a new Bing feature, personalized information cards customized to a user's preferences and interests. Bing, formerly known as Live Search then Windows Live Search and then MSN Search, debuted in 2009 and also powers Yahoo! Search through a 10-year deal between Yahoo and Microsoft.

As part of the Bing educational strategy students can earn credits for their school using a rewards program if they use Bing on home and mobile computing devices.

"We created Bing in the Classroom because we believe students deserve a search environment tailored for learning," said Matt Wallaert, creator of the program, in a statement.

Wallaert claims the Bing program is purely altruistic, as Microsoft believes school and learning environments should be an ad-free Internet zone.

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