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HP follows million-dollar course in Michigan

Hewlett-Packard wins a multimillion-dollar contract to supply notebook computers to sixth-grade students in Michigan.

Hewlett-Packard has won a multimillion-dollar contract to supply notebook computers to sixth-grade students in Michigan.

The Palo Alto, Calif., company beat out several other computer makers, including Apple Computer, Dell and Gateway, for the contract, which could have a value of at least $17 million, a representative for the Michigan Department of Education said.

The contract, awarded under Michigan's Freedom to Learn Initiative--a program designed to improve the academic performance of the state's students--could have HP supplying notebooks to as many as 132,000 students, depending on funding and the number of participating schools, the representative said.

Though many states have faced shrinking budgets over the past couple of years, most continue to use technology in efforts to improve the academic achievements of their students.

Because government and education markets continue to be a mainstay for companies such as Apple, Dell, HP and IBM, competition for business in those areas is rife. Apple, for one, has inked a number of deals to supply iBooks to school systems, including one for 36,000 iBooks for students in Maine.

HP, the prizewinner this time, will supply the Michigan students with HP Compaq Business notebook nx9010 models, wireless networking and Microsoft Office Professional software. It will also provide teachers with training and curriculum assistance, a representative from Michigan's Department of Management and Budget said.

HP won the contract based on its ability to assist teachers with computer training and curriculum planning, the representative said.

The scope of the contract is still in flux, however. Although HP has been approved as the supplier, and the program has secured $17 million in federal funds, the amount of available state funding has yet to be determined. State funding, as well as the number of participating schools, will ultimately determine the value of the contract for HP, the Michigan Department of Education representative said.

Schools that wish to participate in the program must apply by Jan. 16, the representative said.

Michigan's request for proposals for the computer contract limited the total price of each notebook, including its software and related services, to $275 per student, per year for four years, according to a copy of the document, produced by the Department of Management and Budget.

An HP representative confirmed that the company had won the contract, but declined to comment on the deal, stating that many of its details have yet to be ironed out. HP is likely to officially announce that it has won the contract when it has more information.