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Microsoft Touts Live@edu Stats, Prepares for Move to Office365 for Education

Microsoft has revealed that Live@edu, the company's free, hosted collaboration and communications service for education, now has more than 22 million users, a 100 percent increase in the past year. By comparison, Google Apps for Education currently has more than 15 million users, according to information revealed by Google in October, up from 10 million a year ago. Both services offer a variety of online communication, collaboration, and productivity tools for students, faculty, and staff of educational institutions.

The Live@edu suite includes Outlook Live, Windows Live SkyDrive, and Microsoft Office Web Apps. Outlook Live is the communications hub providing free, hosted e-mail, calendaring, and instant messaging with 10 GB of storage space. Windows Live SkyDrive enables file sharing and collaboration with 25 GB of free online storage. Finally, Microsoft Office Web Apps enable users to create, view, edit, and share Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote files online through SkyDrive.

Google Apps for Education offers a similar suite of tools, including Gmail, Calendar, and Docs for creating documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. Other Google services are also provided, such as Google Groups, Sites, and more, as well as Google Video for Business and Google Groups for Business. Google Apps for Education also includes 25 GB of e-mail storage per user and provides interoperability with Microsoft Outlook, BlackBerry's mail system, and other e-mail applications.

"There's no question the cloud has become an important asset for schools and universities," wrote Anthony Salcito, vice president, worldwide public sector education, Microsoft, in a recent blog post. "It enhances the educational experience and fosters 24/7 learning across multiple devices, while enabling skills development to help students prepare for their futures."

Microsoft is in the process of transitioning its Live@edu service to Office365 for Education, which will include all of the services currently available in Office365 for Enterprises, including Exchange Online, Lync Online, and SharePoint Online. With Office365, e-mail, calendaring, and contact management will move to Exchange Online 2010, and storage space will increase from 10 GB to 25 GB. Lync Online 2010 will enable educators to conduct classes online, or record and share them online or offline. It will also include video, application, and desktop sharing capabilities, as well as chat. SharePoint Online 2010 will provide the ability to create class and group sites for document and information sharing. It will also enable users to view, edit, and share Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote files online using SharePoint and Office Web Apps.

Exchange Online and Lync Online are currently available to qualified education customers only. SharePoint Online will be available to all Live@edu users when Microsoft makes Office365 for Education broadly available in 2012.

Further information about Live@edu and Google Apps for Education is available at the respective Microsoft and Google sites.

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