MinecraftEdu has been around for a few years now – almost as long as Minecraft itself. Now, though, it’s getting some official support.

Microsoft and Minecraft dev Mojang announced today Minecraft: Education Edition. MinecraftEdu has been acquired by Microsoft and “is building upon its proven success to create a new version of Minecraft that’s dedicated to learning.”

The education edition will be available as a free trial this summer, and anyone already using MinecraftEdu will get a free year of the service. The continued development will be collaborative, according to the announcement, with educators contributing  lesson plans and discussing how they use the game to further education.

MinecraftEdu has been used in over 40 countries already for various applications. Microsoft has been involved in education for as long as I can remember, and the combined power of Minecraft‘s unprecedented success and Microsoft’s far reach make a sensible combination. I’m usually a little concerned about acquisitions, but this one seems to make a lot of sense at a glance. Of course, if they’re going to charge for it, Microsoft will have to justify the cost – teachers aren’t known for having tons of extra cash lying around – so it’ll be interesting to see how the program changes under their control. The bigger budget and backing should help extend the program’s longevity and reach if nothing else.

If you’re an educator, you can head to education.minecraft.net for more information.