Disadvantaged schools across the country will receive $1 million in state-of-the-art reference software from Microsoft Corp., the company announced on Sept. 2.

The contribution will be distributed to the nation's 10,000 neediest schools through the Public Education Network (PEN), according to Microsoft President Steve Ballmer. Ballmer announced the donation, intended to celebrate the unveiling of the latest addition of the Encarta family of reference tools, before students from Bay Area schools during an event at San Francisco's California Academy of Sciences.

It's the biggest in-kind donation PEN has received, according...

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