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Dell Adds Educational Service to School Computers

Dell, which last year surpassed Apple Computer as the top dog in education sales, Thursday struck an alliance with America Online Inc. under which it will provide the free AOL@SCHOOL service preloaded on all computers it sells to K-12 schools in the U.S.

Dell made the announcement at the Florida Educational Technology Conference. The deal makes Dell the first hardware vendor in the industry to provide the service factory-installed for its customers.

"Our strategy is to leverage our expertise as Internet pioneers to help our education customers take full advantage of the Internet," said Bill Rodrigues, Dell's vice president for education and healthcare. AOL@SCHOOL is an easy, free way for schools to harness the power of the Internet, and we believe it will be of great value to our education customers.

The AOL@SCHOOL service is a free online learning tool designed to help schools utilize the Internet. It allows -- at school officials' discretion -- schools to provide students with e-mail and instant messaging, and also features a series of age-appropriate learning portals and an education-focused search engine. Additionally, the service features AOL's safety controls to protect students from inappropriate content and special portals for teachers and administrators.

To give the software a more local feel, it includes a State Focus feature which provides locally oriented information selected by state education officials. The feature offers states live content windows in each of AOL@SCHOOL's six learning portals, which can then be programmed to spotlight information targeted for different age groups of students, as well as teachers and administrators.

Dell will initially offer the service pre-installed on its OptiPlex GX100 desktops and Latitude C600 notebooks in February. The company said it will be available on all OptiPlex and Latitude models by April.



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