battle between Google and Microsoft for the cloud-based education market, it's Microsoft's turn today to tout itself as "the premier cloud suite for education worldwide," announcing that Live@edu is now used by more than 15 million students worldwide. In October, Google announced that its Apps for Education had crossed the 10 million user mark.In the ongoing
Microsoft also announced a number of new institutions that have chosen to move to its cloud services, including Beijing Open University, Western Kentucky University, and University of Bologna.
Currently Live@edu offers educational institutions free hosted, co-branded tools, including email and file storage and access to calendars, document sharing, and instant-messaging. Microsoft plans to beef up its cloud offerings, in no doubt in order to compete with the services offered by Google, and announced that Office 365 for Education will launch this year.
Office 365 for Education will include everything available that's currently available in the enterprise version of Office 365 - Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Lync Online, Office Web Apps, and Office Professional Plus desktop software. This new suite suite also will include templates and pricing designed to meet the needs of teachers and students.
Unlike Google Apps for Education, these tools aren't free. Rather, there are package deals depending on the software included and the number of licenses needed. The entry level package, for example, is $6 per staff per month and free for students. But once you add the features like Office 2010 Professional Plus, it's $14 per user per month (with students costing $2 per user per month).
As ZDNet's Christoper Dawson notes, the robust offerings that will come with Office 365 package make this look like a "win" for Microsoft. It's likely, then, that we'll see Google continue to offer more with its educational suite, including its efforts to expand those apps available for integration via Google's App Marketplace.