Neowin's Guide to 2013 Back To School PC Sales - Part 1

For many, if not most, students in the US, August is the time of the year when they go back to school and face the tasks of taking notes in class, studying for that next test and dealing with a wide variety of subjects and teachers. It also happens to be one of the biggest, if not the biggest, time of the year for PC sales.

With all of the talk about PC shipments declining in favor of tablets, a recent survey of students showed that 82 percent of them own a laptop, while just 18 percent currently own a tablet. That makes the back to school shopping season even more important for PC makers and they are offering lots of price cuts and special offers for the next several weeks aimed directly at students. In fact, many of the offers require proof that the buyer of the PC is a student.

We decided to find some of the best current back to school sales and offers for PCs and there are quite a few out there at the moment. Keep in mind that many of these special prices are for a very limited time so make sure you check the expiration date on these deals. We will post another article with even more back to school PC price specials next week.

Microsoft

Unfortunately, Microsoft's official back to school offer isn't as cool as the ones it presented in the past couple of years, when qualified students could get a free Xbox 360 with the purchase of a new Windows PC. This year's deal is called Chip In, where Microsoft takes 10 percent off the cost of a new PC and students get their family and friends to "donate" the rest in a Kickstarter-like social network campaign.

Thankfully there are other Microsoft deals out there, such as a 10 percent discount for both students and school staff for items listed on the Microsoft Store website. You might also want to ask if your school, college or university is going to take advantage of Microsoft's offer to sell them Surface RT tablets for just $199 each until the end of September. If they are, you might be able to get a dirt cheap price on Microsoft's Windows RT tablet.

The Microsoft Store website also has deep price cuts on a number of Windows 8 PCs from many different companies especially for students. You will have to verify that you are currently attending a school or college to get these price reductions, such as the Acer Aspire S7-391-9492 touchscreen Ultrabook for $1,169, a savings of $480, or the HP Spectre XT 15-4011nr TouchSmart Laptop for $899, a savings of $450. Students who purchase any touchscreen Windows 8 PCs from the Microsoft Store site will also get a free four year subscription to Office 365 University, which is normally priced at $79.99.

One more thing: Students can also get a cheap Windows 8 Pro upgrade at the moment for their older PCs. Microsoft has been offering qualified students a way to buy up to five Windows 8 Pro upgrade licenses for $69.99 each for some time, which is far less than the $199 price everyone else has to pay for Windows 8 Pro.

Third party retailers

Several other retailers, such as Staples, Office Max, and Fry's, are also throwing in a free subscription of Office 365 University for students with the purchase of select Windows PCs. The specific requirements and expiration dates are different for each store, so be sure to check them out carefully before making your final decisions. Best Buy currently has a 10 percent discount on all Windows 8 All-In-One touchscreen PCs for students, plus a free Office 365 University subscription, plus a free 16 GB flash drive.

Walmart isn't offering any Office 365 subscriptions but it will give students a $50 gift card with the purchase of any Windows PC with a screen larger than 12 inches.

Dell

Dell is offering a $200 electronic gift card to students with the purchase of any PC directly from their website that's priced at $699 or higher. Dell's promotion for the sale suggests that students can use it to help buy an Xbox 360 from them and as it happens the 4GB version is priced at $199, so basically Dell has replicated Microsoft's back to school deal from 2011 and 2012.

Lenovo

From now until August 14th, students can use the promo code BACKTOSCHOOLIDEA on the Lenovo website to get savings of up to 40 percent on their laptops and tablets. That includes the Lenovo Miix 10.1 inch Windows 8 tablet, which went on sale earlier this week for $599. With that promo code, the tablet is now priced at just $479, a $120 decrease.

Apple

The folks at Cupertino are not exactly known for their sales on any products, but they do offer students some special offers. If they purchase a Mac PC, they will get a free $100 App Store gift card, which can be used to download items from the Mac App Store, the iOS App Store, iTunes or iBooks.

Next week, we will attempt to find even more PC sales deals as the back to school shopping season continues. In the meantime, make sure you use the rest of your vacation time well (assuming you are not already in school); you will likely need it.

Images via Microsoft and Lenovo

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