Microsoft Lays Out Its Roadmap for Office 365 for Education
The Microsoft Office 365 cloud productivity suite is expanding to the higher education sphere in early 2012 as it replaces the incumbent Live@edu, marking the beginning of yet another battlefield between Redmond and the competing Google Apps.
The announcement comes at the same time that Microsoft is hyping 100 percent year-over-year cloud growth in the education space, with 22 million people using its free Live@edu service. Live@edu isn’t nearly as robust as Office 365 — it mainly consists of the Exchange Online-based cloud messaging solution and Office Web Apps for cloud productivity, but it’s free for schools to deploy, which has resulted in much of that popularity.
But for those colleges and universities who need a little more, Live@edu is transitioning into Microsoft Office 365 for education. In addition to Exchange Online, schools will also get Office Web Apps and Lync Online. SharePoint Online functionality will be added after the general availability of Office 365 sometime in 2012.
Otherwise, though, Microsoft is claiming Office 365 for education will bring the same features as the enterprise version, helping teachers and students collaborate with each other. Microsoft isn’t being totally clear, but it sounds like it will be free to educational institutions just as Live@edu has been.
Schools including Georgia State University, Dundee University in Scotland, East Norfolk Sixth College in England, and both the Inzai City Board of Education and Wakayama City Board of Education in Japan have already begun the switch, according to Microsoft.
I, for one, hope the switch goes smoother than the BPOS-to-Office 365 transition that left many partners and service providers confused and upset. And in the meanwhile, Google Apps and the Google Apps Authorized Resellers that offer it have had great success in the educational space. This is yet another way for Redmond and Mountain View to fight it out.