When it comes to cloud productivity services and education, it’s easy to think that Google is the only game in town. Google, after all, seems to make an announcement every time a new school signs up for Google Apps for Education. Microsoft, however, has been quietly expanding its reach in the education market with Live@edu over the last few years. Today the company announced that its cloud-based service for schools is now “the most widely used cloud productivity service for education.” Live@edu grew 100% year-over-year compared to last year and now has 22 million users. Google, in comparison, has signed up 15 million students, faculty and staff for Google Apps for Education.
Live@edu is actually currently in the process of transitioning to becoming Office 365 for Education to keep it on par with Microsoft’s other cloud-based productivity offerings. Office 365 for Education includes support for all the regular Office Web Apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote), as well as Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Lync Online. Microsoft also stressed that school can use its tools to do more than just manage documents and email online. With Lync, Office 365 for Education also includes tools for holding virtual classes and online meetings, for example.
Microsoft offers 5 different plans that schools can offer their students, ranging from basic free accounts for students and school, to more fully-featured suites that start at $6/month.
This is going to be a very difficult battle for Google. Most schools are all about Microsoft products and solutions, and this is only a natural progression for them. Whereas Google has yet to prove themselves in an area that requires such finesse.
That's not to say this day will come, but they have a ton of catching up to do.