In unsurprising news after Mary Jo Foley reported Microsoft's next wave of the cloud based Business Online Productivity Suite, the free student email system Live@edu has been 'merged' with existing cloud services under the Office 365 branding umbrella.
While most of the webcast announcement covered the business side to Microsoft Online Services, which includes the rebranded BPOS range of cloud-based services designed for small and medium sized businesses, it offered an insight into the Live@edu merger.
Live@edu is soon to be known as Office 365 for Education. Now universities and schools heading to outsource their email service to the cloud will be able to choose from Google and Microsoft's streamlined product names.
Though Office 365 for Education has been announced today, it will be rolled out to existing and new universities and school customers later next year. The service will still be free to all eligible educational institutions.
As part of this revamp, it will give students and staff "powerful technology tailored specifically to their needs", which seems to integrate the for-fee features which was reported last week; allowing education institutions to include optional add-ins to enhance their university branded cloud services.
According to the Office 365 for Education factsheet, little will change in terms of the features available, however "industry-leading, always-up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spam solutions", "team sites to share" and "student access to Office Web Apps" will be included.
Betsy Frost Webb, GM of online services said about current Live@edu users, "those students have Office Web Apps and Exchange functionality today and they will be getting more capabilities next year", when she spoke to my colleague Mary Jo Foley a short time ago. Besides this brief statement, Microsoft offers no further comments.
While Google Apps for Education has just surpassed 10 million users worldwide, this is dwarfed by the 50 million users that Microsoft's Live@edu service is estimated to have.