BETT 2012: Microsoft UK will take Office 365 to schools

BETT 2012: Microsoft UK will take Office 365 to schools

Summary: This summer, Microsoft will start to offer its cloud-based Office 365 suite to British schools, according to Steve Beswick, Director of Education at Microsoft. "Office 365 for Education will be the same as enterprises get," said Beswick.

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TOPICS: Tech Industry
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This summer, Microsoft will start to offer its cloud-based Office 365 suite to British schools, according to Steve Beswick, Director of Education at Microsoft. "Office 365 for Education will be the same as enterprises get," said Beswick. "The only difference is price." However, price is yet to be announced.

Microsoft is already testing its ideas with some schools, the best known being Toby Young's West London Free School (PDF) in Hammersmith. This is intended to be like a traditional grammar school, and was the first free school to sign a funding agreement with the government.

European Electronique is deploying Office 365 as part of the West London Free School's IT system.

Microsoft is hoping to sell Office 365 to large universities before moving down the chain, but it has competition in cloud computing. It recently lost out on a US deal when the University of California at Berkeley selected Google Apps for Education as its new calendar and email platform. However, Berkeley will continue to use Microsoft Office Professional Plus, Windows and other Microsoft software.

At BETT 2012, Microsoft officially launched Learning Suite, which Beswick says "provides 25 free titles that add value to Office and Windows." The list includes free Windows Live Essentials 2011 programs such as Live Messenger, Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, and Windows Live Writer, but with the benefit of an msi installer. Less well known programs include Photo Story 3 and Mouse Mischief. Beswick says six other publishers are adding free software to the UK site.

Microsoft said Learning Suite was "part of Microsoft’s three year campaign to help build a 'Brighter Britain'."

One of Microsoft's less well known offerings, Kodu Game Lab, has also made it into Learning Suite. Kodu is a simple visual programming language that enables children to create games that run on the PC and Xbox. It's supported by a Kodu Classroom Kit for Educators (download).

Beswick says that teaching programming can't be left for A-level students and undergraduates: "we firmly believe we've got to fill the hopper earlier on."

For older students, Microsoft offers Dreamspark. This is a truly massive suite of free (as in beer) software, including Visual Studio 2010 Pro, Expression Studio 4 Ultimate, Robotics Developer Studio 4, XNA Game Studio 4, Windows Server 2003 and 2008, and the free Express versions of Visual Web Developer, Visual Basic, Visual C#, Visual C++, and SQL Server.

The Microsoft UK Education Team's UK Schools Blog provides further information.

@jackschofield

Topic: Tech Industry

Jack Schofield

About Jack Schofield

Jack Schofield spent the 1970s editing photography magazines before becoming editor of an early UK computer magazine, Practical Computing. In 1983, he started writing a weekly computer column for the Guardian, and joined the staff to launch the newspaper's weekly computer supplement in 1985. This section launched the Guardian’s first website and, in 2001, its first real blog. When the printed section was dropped after 25 years and a couple of reincarnations, he felt it was a time for a change....

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3 comments
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  • Isn't that big of Microsoft?

    They get such a bum rap in the press most of the time, and look at them here, handing out stuff for free! I think all you hard-nosed journalists need to give them more credit for their largesse.
    BrownieBoy-4ea41
  • Of course teaching the little ones to be good Microsoft customers is massively to Microsofts' advantage.
    AndyPagin-3879e
  • Quite so.

    When even a clueless politician like our esteemed Education Minister can rail against children being "bored out of their minds being taught how to use Word and Excel by bored teachers".

    Apparently, drug-dealers operate in much the same way: your first few hits are cheap if not free. They know that once you're hooked, you'll pay whatever they want.

    All lost on Jack it seems.
    BrownieBoy-4ea41