Apple, EducationApple today released details of its 2011 back to school promotion, which offers eligible buyers a $100 app store credit with the purchase of a Mac computer from Apple’s education store.

In years past, Apple offered an iPod as the promotional item of value, which is less practical for educational purposes than the plethora of iOS and OS X applications available for purchase with the $100 credit.

Apple probably chose the $100 credit because it not only helps promote the App Store but also saves the company money. Unlike with the iPod giveaway, the company will recuperate at least 30 percent of any purchase made using the credit — more if the purchase happens to be an Apple application like Pages or iWork.

However, this year Microsoft is running its own back-to-school promotion that is arguably a better deal for students (although maybe not such a plus for their study habits). As we reported in May, the company is offering an Xbox 360 with 4 gigabytes of storage (a $199 value) to any student who purchases a Windows 7 computer for $699 or more.

For $700, it’s not difficult to find a Windows machine that matches or beats the specs of Apple’s least expensive computer, which start at $899. And while Apple’s education store does knock off $100 from the regular price, it’s still the more expensive option.

It will be interesting to see if Microsoft’s promotion digs into Apple’s back-to-school Mac sales through the beginning of September when both promos end.