Microsoft's Google (News - Alert) Apps competitor, Office 365, recently unveiled pricing for its new Office 365 University edition. More specifically geared for college students needing the Office productivity suite and similar, the program is priced at a downright value, especially for often cash-strapped college students.
The new Office 365 University is set to launch in the first quarter of 2013, and will likely make a lot of college students—and their parents—very happy by offering a special price for four full years of access. The four-year package is priced at a very reasonable $79.99, which works out to about $1.67 a month, every month, for the term of a standard four-year degree. A full four-year extension can be had at the end of said four years for the same price, and it's not just access to the apps that those students buying in will get. Users will also get 27 gigabytes of storage on Microsoft (News - Alert) SkyDrive, and any documents created or saved via the Office 365 University program will be automatically saved to SkyDrive, ensuring access to these documents most anywhere there's Internet access available, which for most college campuses, translates to nearly everywhere. Users will even be able to install Office 365 University on as many as two different devices.
Even better, for those who buy either Office University 2010 for Windows or its Mac equivalent, Office University 2011, at their standard $100 price tag (News - Alert), they'll get access to Office University 365 at no cost. Buyers will, however, have to verify their credentials after purchasing, unless they buy from a Microsoft store, which will let them verify at the point of purchase.
Microsoft and Google are currently embroiled in a battle for the college student market, which is a pretty sizable market in its own right that requires plenty of productivity software to handle all the papers students need to write, as well as for spreadsheet applications and the like as students prepare practice campaigns or the like. While Google and Microsoft appear closely matched in terms of pricing, Microsoft came out with something of an edge for its own line, making Office 365 HIPAA-compliant, which allows it to be used in medical schools.
Considering that Office 365 University now claims some fairly major names as part of its clientele—the University of Washington, Emory, and others—while Google claims perhaps even bigger names like Georgetown and Notre Dame, it's fair to say the two sides are relatively well-matched. Microsoft's edge in HIPAA might give it a path to dominance, but it's unclear just how long Microsoft can hold that lead, especially if Google decides to follow suit. Either way, though, there will be plenty of options for college students, and at good prices, which is about the best result a market can generate.
Edited by Jamie Epstein