Google announces this morning that New York will join Oregon, Iowa, Colorado and Maryland as the fifth and largest state to bring Google Apps for Education to K-12 classrooms.

New York's 3.1 million students and hundreds of thousands of teachers across the state's 697 public school districts will now have access to Google Apps for Education, Google's cloud-based program that offers a suite of communication and collaboration tools - Gmail, Docs, Sites, and Calendar - as well as training and support to schools.

Carving Up the Country in the Race to the Cloud

Google's announcement today follows on the heels of one by Microsoft yesterday, announcing additional universities that have joined those using Microsoft's cloud suite Live@edu. San Francisco State University, CSU Long Beach, University of Montana, and Washington University in St. Louis were among the schools who announced that they were going with Microsoft, whose Live@edu offers access to Office Web Apps and Windows Live SkyDrive as well as email and calendaring.

Microsoft and Google continue to vie for contracts with school districts and universities, with a growing interest from more and more educational institutions in both companies' services, something that demonstrates that the schools are recognizing the major benefits - in terms of cost, infrastructure, and pedagogy - of moving to the cloud.

And for both Microsoft and Google, securing agreements from states and school districts is important, not just to boost their customer base, but to establish that base with young students, who will grow up learning and working with a particular set of technology tools, becoming perhaps, loyal Microsoft or Google users.