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Office 365 Given to Schools for Free?

TMCnews Featured Article

October 03, 2012

Office 365 Given to Schools for Free?

By Shankar Pandiath, TMCnet Contributor

It’s the one year anniversary of Office 365 and Microsoft’s (News - Alert) VP for Education, Anthony Salcito just released some big news in his blog. The cloud and online learning are key trends and opportunities to transform education today. With the launch and availability of Office 365 for Education, schools now have a holistic collaboration platform that will change the game. As schools face ever-tightening budgets and the pressure to innovate, Microsoft is offering enterprise quality technology for free that will modernize teaching practices and help prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow.,

Salcito believes the Office 365 for Education’s free offer of enterprise quality technology for educational institutions will be game changing. He notes that Dartmouth, Cornell, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, Fresno Unified School District, and the Tennessee Department of Education are already onboard.

Office 365 is used by companies all over the world due to the fact that it is a cloud-based solution that enables users to access Word, Excel, Outlook, and other Microsoft Office tools from anywhere with a Web connection, and from any device.

In fact, Office 365 was chosen by the Scottish Government to support the future of its renowned Glow Platform - representing upwards of 1.2 million students and teachers across the country. In Qatar, all 93,000 students and 15,000 teachers will have access to Office 365 at their fingertips. There are many schools across Europe moving to Office 365, including the University of Dundee that is moving off Novell (News - Alert) GroupWise to expand communication capabilities on campus. These schools join other large academic institutional and countrywide commitments to Office 365, such as the India Council for Technical Education with 7.5 million users and the Catholic International Education Office with over 4.5 million users across 102 countries.

Transition to the new platform could take some time, with existing contracts with RM Education being extended until December 2013 to ensure that schools have enough time to identify and transfer all the content they want to keep. Some lucky schools, however, could be up and running on Office 365 from September 2012.

Mary Jo Foley had reported sometime during January of 2011 that Microsoft execs hinted that the education SKU for Office 365 would remain free for students, but cost some unspecified amount for academics and administrators. Office 365 for Education is the follow-on to Live@Edu, which officials said that had close to 15 million users worldwide in 2011.

Simon Jones ponders the ethical question of supplying free office software and services to school children and feels that the main factor driving Google (News - Alert) and Microsoft’s to power these free services to schools is to get young users to get used to their products from an early age. In both cases, the ideology is to sell more software or services and for that the user has to be educated. By educating target markets at an early age, the companies achieve that objective.

He adds that if we think about the goals of the companies that seek to provide such services, and follow the money, we should be able to make the perfect choice in regards to which offering is best for staff and pupils alike.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Austin 2012, happening now in Austin, TX.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Jamie Epstein

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