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Microsoft to turn Semblio educational application into a service

Microsoft Semblio. You may never have heard of this Microsoft educational-software add-in/toolset that was codenamed "Grava." But some of my readers had. They were wondering what happened to the product, given Microsoft nixed the dedicated Semblio Web page. Here's the answer to that mystery.
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Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor on

Microsoft Semblio. You may never have heard of this Microsoft educational-software add-in/toolset that was codenamed "Grava." But some of my readers had. In fact, some were tinkering with the Semblio software development kit, investigating ways they could use it to extend Office with educational content.

Suddenly, the dedicated Semblio Web page on Microsoft's site disappeared. The Semblio SDK download is still available. But it seemed Microsoft had decided to nix the product, one of my readers said, with no warning or fanfare.

It turns out Microsoft hasn't killed Semblio. Instead, it's turning the Semblio software into a service. Here's the response I received from a Microsoft spokesperson when I asked about Semblio's whereabouts:

"We have made changes to the Semblio technology to better align our approach with major company investments in Office, SharePoint, BPOS, and Live@edu. The idea is to further the integration of education-specific solutions with Microsoft's primary products – products already in use throughout many educational institutions today. The content assembly and viewing experiences enabled by Semblio will be available as online services that work with these products."

Microsoft isn't sharing any information as to when Semblio will be available, the spokesperson said, and isn't talking about distribution or pricing at this point. All that's being said is the original plan was to release Semblio as a standalone application. Now it will become an "educational service."

"We have communicated these changes to our partner community at large and continue to work with them to create education services around SharePoint, BPOS, Live@edu, and Office," the spokesperson added.

There was some question as to whether Microsoft planned to make Semblio part of Office, as of the Office 2010 release. The spokesperson said that was not the case. However, Microsoft's Education Products Group was folded into the Microsoft Business Division in January 2010, resulting in the departure of the former Microsoft Vice President of Education Products, L. Michael Golden. Microsoft officials told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that "the idea (behind the reorg) is to further the integration of education-specific solutions with Microsoft's primary products – products already in use throughout many educational institutions today."

It will be interesting to see whether Microsoft plans to turn more of its applications into services designed to complement its core software products....

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