Microsoft’s competitor to Google Docs, Office 365, will soon be available to students everywhere at no cost. Since Microsoft’s launch of Office 365 it has offered a University edition of the Office 2013 suite at a rate of $80 for a 4 year subscription. The new student program will grant students free access to Office 365 ProPlus, however only if the school is licensing Office 365 ProPlus for itself. Or in other words, if a school buys an Office 365 ProPlus subscriptions for its employees then the program will be free for the students attending that school. Unlike the old University edition, the ProPlus is designed for businesses and includes premium online Office 365 features with full cloud support.
The Student Advantage is set to come into effect December 1, 2013 and is reported to be available to at least 105 million students across 35,000 organizations at launch.
Why give students a best-selling product for free?
According to Microsoft’s public relations writers the company is reaching out in the best interest of students by preparing them “for future success and being proficient with Microsoft Office is an important part of that.“ Microsoft went on to quote a study done by IDC (International Data Corporation) that stated proficiency in Microsoft Office was among the most highly desired skills in the fastest growing job markets. With this incentive more schools may be tempted to use Office 365 instead of Google Docs, and Google Docs is currently dominating the market with 74 out of the top 100 Universities signed up with Apps for Education. Microsoft claims that “98 percent of students using productivity software currently use Office” so either the pupils aren’t using Google Docs, or something is off base with that percentage.
DreamSpark is another valuable resource for students who want Microsoft software. For years Microsoft has given away free enterprise-level software to students. This includes developer tools and everything needed to learn how to run a Windows Server environment. While only about half of the software offered by DreamSpark is available to students outside of University STEM departments, it is interesting to note that this is the first time Microsoft has ever offered the entire latest Office suite to students for free.