Microsoft Announces Its Back-To-School Promotion: Buy A PC, Get A Free Xbox

Microsoft, just like Apple, usually runs a major back-to-school promotion every summer that is meant to give students (and their parents) some extra incentives to buy a new computer. The company’s just-announced back-to-school deal for the U.S. and Canada is pretty much the same as last year’s. A year ago, Microsoft gave students who bought a new PC and Xbox 360 and this year it’s doing exactly the same.

There are some differences to last year’s program, though. This time around, Microsoft isn’t just partnering with Best Buy in the U.S., but also with, Fry’s Electronics, HPDirect and (its own Microsoft stores, of course, will also honor this promotion. In Canada, students can buy their PCs from Best Buy,, Future Shop, Staples and The Source.

The program is scheduled to start on May 20 in the U.S and May 18 in Canada. To be eligible, students need to buy a Windows PC worth at least $699 ($599 in Canada).

Apple vs. Microsoft

Apple also used free products like an iPod touch as an incentive for shoppers. Last year, however, it switched to handing out $100 gift cards to its digital stores instead. Apple usually announces its annual back-to-school promotion in June.

By the end of last year’s summer promotions, some analysts noted that Apple handily beat Microsoft 8 to 2, with around 80% of incoming students opting for Macs instead of a Windows machine. This year, Microsoft hopes that Ultrabooks like the Samsung Series 5 ULTRA and the Dell XPS 13 will make students think twice about buying a Mac.