The deal means that the schools will be able to buy a Samsung Series 5 Chromebook for $99, reduced from the usual retail price of $429. However, Google has already frozen the scheme to new applicants.
The Chromebook term refers to machines running the Chrome operating system. That’s effectively a souped-up version of the web browser of the same name, with most applications running on remote servers. That reduces many of the specification requirements for the device, allows for quick start-ups, and so far appears to reduce the potential for viruses. The one drawback is that while there are some offline features, the device only works to its full potential with a reliable internet connection.
To be able to get the computers, the school must create an account at DonorsChoose, a charity that allows the public to donate towards funding specific projects run by public school teachers. The school must set up a project requesting the money for one or more Chromebooks, giving reasons why it will help their class. In other words schools with cash to spare can’t simply buy at the $99 price — the program is designed for those schools already having to beg for the cash.
Google currently says it only has a limited number of Chromebooks available at the reduced price so is currently not taking new applications. It’s asked other teachers to register a DonorsChoose account and fill in a form to express their interest: Google will then contact them if they decide to make more Chromebooks available at $99. In the meantime they can launch a project to raise the cash for the full purchase price.