Microsoft’s Office Cloud Service Adds Features For Education Systems
June 28, 2012

Microsoft’s Office Cloud Service Adds Features For Education Systems

John Neumann for - Your Universe Online

Today saw the launch of Microsoft´s Office 365 cloud collaboration and communication suite that is specifically aimed at schools and universities, replacing [email protected], which will remain available for 18 more months to give its customers time to migrate into the newer software, writes Juan Carlos Perez for IDG News.

Although Office 365 is a cloud-based suite, it can require upgrades to customers´ PC and server software, as well as internet domain and website transfers, depending on the case.

Office 365 for Education includes the familiar Office desktop applications, as well as Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Lync Online. It also provides educators, Microsoft says, with the ability to create anytime, anywhere learning opportunities across multiple devices, in addition to e-mail, calendars, Office Web Apps, video and online meetings.

“Getting the world´s best technology in the hands of our students and teachers is critical to improving educational outcomes and making sure students are prepared for college and career,” said Anthony Salcito, Vice President of Worldwide Education for Microsoft.

“With schools´ ever-tightening budgets, Office 365 for Education enables them to deliver new and innovative technology in the cloud that will modernize teaching and learning practices, at no cost.”

The largest worldwide adoption of Office 365 for Education, however has come from the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). AICTE decided to move all of its 10,000+ colleges on Office 365 for Education, earlier this year and the deployment is currently underway, reports Anuradha Shetty for India´s Tech2.

“Microsoft Cloud Platform will make for a truly progressive ecosystem and contribute to the country´s technical education by providing a better communication and collaboration platform for institutes and students,” said Dr. S.S. Mantha, Chairman, AICTE

“Office 365 has millions of subscribers worldwide and in India, and we are now excited to announce the availability of Office 365 for Education, bringing enterprise-class productivity to education institutions across the country,” explains Sanjay Manchanda, Director - Microsoft Business Division, Microsoft India.

Students can create documents with Office Web Apps that provide the same features as the desktop version of Microsoft Office, share class notes by synchronizing OneNote notebooks, and create digital portfolios.

For teachers, Office 365 Education allows curriculum creation, the ability to record lectures and publish them on online class sites in the cloud where students are able to view, open, produce, edit and share their homework.

Microsoft leads the on-premises enterprise email and collaboration market, but is having to fight tooth-and-nail to defend its turf as customers opt to switch to a cloud-based model for this software.

Critics of Microsoft have said that it took the company too long to come out with Office 365, giving Google and others opportunity to encroach on its stomping ground. BPOS, which Office 365 is replacing for businesses, lacked Office software, featured Lync´s predecessor and its SharePoint and Exchange components were based on the 2007 versions of the products.

Microsoft is locked in a battle with Google and other solid competitors in the cloud-based enterprise email and collaboration market, where Google Apps has been available since 2006 and also features a free version aimed at the education market.