Ah, Minecraft. The joy of millions of children around the world and the thorn in the side of those who own a Chromebook. Ever since Chrome OS began dominating the classroom, students have been looking for a way to install the wildly popular game on their Chromebooks. For a short-lived time, Minecraft was actually available from the Google Play Store and could be installed on Chrome OS but a couple of months ago, Microsoft decided to pull the plug on that. You can stall grab Minecraft for $6.99 on your Android phone but it won’t even show up in the Play Store on a Chromebook. Granted, there are other options. You can always play Classic Minecraft online or you can install the Linux version and play that way but it’s a little janky and definitely not user-friendly.
Well, I have some good news for some of you. Microsoft has re-released Minecraft to the Play Store but there are some caveats. First of all, this is an early access program and it is not the same version of Minecraft you’ll find on your mobile device. If you opt to join this Beta, you will be required to delete your other Minecraft version after migrating your “worlds” to the Early Access build. No bid deal. Right? Not really but before you go signing up, there’s another catch. You can download and install this new version of Minecraft right now but you won’t be able to play it unless you have an eligible Microsoft Office 365 Education account. These are accounts that are given to students through their educational institution much like GSuite accounts from Google. See what Microsoft did there?
Yes, Google is dominating the EDU space with Chromebooks but Microsoft still touts more than 100 million active monthly users on the company’s Office 365 Education platform. Minecraft may be “just a game” but it’s a game that thousands of classrooms use. The open-world, imagination-inspiring game offers countless ways for students and teachers alike implement technology and learning. Microsoft recognized Minecraft’s value in the classroom. This new Early Access program is an ingenious way to get Minecraft onto Chromebooks without relinquishing all of the company’s grip in the EDU sector. Well played, Microsoft. If you have an Office 365 Education account, you can download Minecraft: Education Edition from the Google Play Store here. Once installed, you will be prompted to log in with your Microsoft account. The Education Edition has “Classroom-freindly” features and there is a demo that you can play without logging in that will walk you through a coding lesson. Check out all of the features here.