Microsoft is ramping up its Shape the Future subsidised PC programme for schools, in partnership with Intel and schools IT provider RM Education.

News of the cheaper PC platforms - including notebooks, netbooks and tablets - comes as the cut-price non-Wintel Raspberry PI device is carving out a niche for itself in the sought after education market, which Microsoft has a strong focus on.

Ostensibly Microsoft and its partners want to make it easier for schools to provide individual devices to students to aid their learning on campus and at home. It will though be useful for Redmond to aid wider use of these personal devices in schools because they come pre-loaded with lots of Microsoft software, which could potentially seed more sales when school students grow up and buy more devices and software.

Schools wanting to benefit from Shape the Future - which first appeared as a programme a few years ago - have to win matching government funding to buy devices.

The devices on offer, from manufacturers including Asus and Acer, all run the new Windows 8 operating system, and are sold at more than 30 percent off the recommended retail price.

Joice Fernandes, worldwide leader of the Shape The Future programme at  Microsoft, crowed, “Shape the Future has the power to put knowledge in the hands of children. That knowledge empowers them to shape their own future."