The education arena is not a new one for Microsoft. The company has dabbled in educational media on and off for decades. But it seems that each time they do, they go through an identity crisis of sorts and, a few months or years in, they quietly retreat.
I’ve seen this happen repeatedly, from the quiet demise of Microsoft’s Actimates Interactive Plush Toys and Microsoft Kids in the 90’s to the disintegration of the Education Products Group more recently. At times, these quiet retreats affected me personally, as I’ve worked on a variety of Microsoft Education teams and I’ve been personally saddened and frustrated each time the company decided that maybe education isn’t their forte after all.
It felt to me like the company was, in effect, saying “Yeah, we tried, but we’re not really good at this. Apple really owns this market…”
And each time that happened, the parent and the educator in me wanted to take Microsoft by the proverbial shoulders, look lovingly in the company’s soul and say, “Well, if you don’t believe in yourself, what do you expect?! You can be amazing at this, you know, if only you’d commit and give it your ALL!”
Finally, it seems, Microsoft has done just that – fully committed to the kids’ market and given it their all! And it looks like this:
I am thrilled for Microsoft and I believe that, given the perfectly suited Kinect technology, their new partnerships with Sesame Street and National Geographic, and their commitment to building a dedicated and knowledgeable team, this time, by golly, they finally HAVE it!