Microsoft will be launching Office 365, its successor to BPOS, Live@Edu and Office Live Small Business -- later this year (I'm still hearing early June). On January 11, Microsoft shared new pricing and packaging details about one of the coming Office 365 SKUs: Office 365 for Education.
Office 365 for Education is the follow-on to Live@Edu. (Live@Edu, Microsoft officials said today, currently has 15 million users worldwide.)
Last year, Microsoft execs hinted that the education SKU for Office 365 would remain free for students, but cost some unspecified amount for academics and administrators. According to a newly released fact sheet, here's the deal.
Office 365 for Education will include Exchange Online, as Live@Edu does now, but also will add SharePoint Online, Lync Online, Office Web Apps, support for My Sites (and other new team sites) and site search capabilities. (Microsoft officials said in 2009 they planned to add SharePoint Online support to Live@Edu, but it is only materializing as of Office 365 for Education.) The SharePoint Online and Lync Online functionality will be free for students, and $10 per month per user for educators and staff.
Microsoft also is offering a package, consisting of all of the above mentioned hosted services, plus a copy of Office Professional Plus (its highest end Office SKU) to run on users' PCs. For this version of Office 365 for Education that includes Professional Plus, Microsoft plans to charge $2 per month per student and $14 per user per month for educators and staff.
Microsoft officials said late last year that the company is planning to implement a Live@Edu service update, starting in January 2011, which will include user-deployment improvements, enhancements to the Exchange Control Panel, updates to Outlook Web App (OWA), new capabilities for compliance, policy, SPAM and anti-virus management.
Google Apps for Education, the primary competitor to Live@Edu and the coming Office 365 for Education offering, is free (for both students and educators/administrators, with Google's Postini e-mail archiving and security available for an add-on fee per user per month (except for K-12 school users, which can get Postini for free). Google's offering does not include any PC software option/components.
In other BPOS/Office 365 news, Microsoft is planning to roll out its regular quarterly update for BPOS Standard starting this month. The update will include Blackberry Console enhancements, updates to the Live Meeting client add-in, and some PowerShell tweaks. In the U.S., Microsoft has a planned maintenance period scheduled over the weekend of January 15-16 and is telling BPOS customers they may experience temporary service outages for Exchange Online and SharePoint Online as a result of updates and patch application.