Today marks the last official day of MinecraftEdu as we know and love it. Starting tomorrow, Microsoft is the proud new owner of the educational version of the game. Their version isn't ready yet, leaving a gap for schools who want to use this tool but hadn't yet jumped on board. This abrupt demise of the Edu version was a surprise, as we anticipated the change happening sometime over the summer.
What's supposed to be different with Microsoft at the helm? Lots of things, maybe. Nobody actually knows what this new version will look like, as the previews have been incredibly limited, but here are the rumors: No more local hosting, no mod support, forced integration with 365 accounts, and a paid subscription model estimated at $5/student/year. (How will this affect low-income schools, who could barely afford the investment of MinecraftEdu with a one-time fee of around $400?) Teacher tools will be different and more limited than we are used to. Students can possibly log in from home.
What about the world library so many of us had built up into a valuable resource? Well, it seems that the worlds will still be floating around out there somewhere, but they won't be useful at all with the new version because they're completely incompatible. Some of us are in a mad dash to download and archive the ones that are important to use in case, like yesterday, its imminent disappearance is suddenly announced.
I'm hopeful the new version turns out much better than the rumors suggest. I'm hopeful that Microsoft listens carefully to the existing community and doesn't alienate those who have helped MinecraftEdu become a tool worth purchasing in the first place. I want the new version to be amazing, because Minecraft is such a great educational tool.