Office 365 for education to expand, gives schools the full power of cloud

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Microsoft has announced that the Office 365 cloud productivity suite is expanding to better assist higher education in early 2012. Replacing Live@edu, Office 365 for education will offer Exchange Online, Office Web Apps, Lync Online, as well as ShairPoint Online to schools.

“Microsoft Office 365 for education will deliver the power of cloud productivity to educational institutions, helping to save time and money while increasing student and faculty productivity. Office 365 is simple to use and easy to administer—all backed by the robust security and guaranteed reliability you expect from a world-class service provider,” Microsoft explains on the official Office 365 for education website.

Here are the features of Office 365 for education:

  • Email, Calendar & Contacts: Hosted email with 25GB inbox, calendaring and contacts through Exchange Online 2010. Designed to provide the control you want and the security and reliability you need. Protected by built-in antivirus and anti-spam filters and unlimited, IT-level phone support 24 hours a day, seven days a week in your local language.
  • Virtual classes, Online Meetings, Video and Voice Chat: Conduct online classes, record them and share with others for playback anytime, online or offline. Connect with the right person at the right time and in the right way with Lync Online 2010. Rich presence information so you know who’s online and available. Transform any conversation to include high-resolution video-, application-, and desktop- sharing and be fully present without physically being there. Keep track of chat sessions with conversation history. Consistent experience across all of Office 365.
  • Class & Group Sites: Keep everyone informed and on track. Create class and group sites to share documents and information with SharePoint Online 2010. Designed to work with familiar Office applications, it’s easy to save documents directly to SharePoint, and work together on projects in real-time because everyone has access to the documents and information they need from virtually anywhere.
  • Online Documents: View, edit, and share Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote files online with SharePoint and Office Web Apps.

Microsoft has also revealed that 22 million people are using the free Live@edu service, which is not as robust as Office 365. The reason it has become so popular is because Live@edu offers Exchange Online and Office Web Apps for cloud productivity, and its free for schools to use.

“While the popularity of Live@edu continues to grow, schools such as Georgia State University, Dundee University in Scotland, East Norfolk Sixth College in England, the Inzai City Board of Education and Wakayama City Board of Education in Japan are benefiting from Office 365,” Microsoft mentions.

Microsoft now hopes to transition schools from Live@edu to Office 365 for education, which offers a lot more features including collaboration tools between teachers and students. “Schools can benefit from Exchange Online today by signing up for Live@edu. Microsoft is also onboarding qualified education customers to Office 365 in order to take advantage of Exchange Online and Lync Online. We will add SharePoint Online capabilities in 2012 when Office 365 for education is broadly available,” Microsoft added.