Office for Education 15: A new SharePoint 15 app in the wings

There's a new Microsoft-developed Office for Education 15 app that seemingly is part of the Office 15 technical preview test program.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft is testing among a select group a new education-focused software application it built on top of the coming SharePoint Server 15 product.

A couple of my contacts mentioned in February the existence of some kind of new education module believed to be part of the technical preview release of Microsoft's SharePoint Server 15. I can now confirm such a thing exists and is also seemingly is being tested by some of those who are also testing new Office 365 for Education SKUs.

The Office for Education 15 app is a new SharePoint app aimed at educational users who want to manage, track and report on classroom activity. It is being targeted at both faculty and students. Because it is based on SharePoint, the app has a heavy collaboration focus. It is designed to allow users to share documents, build Web sites for specific classes and groups and create repositories of associated resources. Documents in these repositories can be rights-protected and can be searched for and checked out within the app.

I have no information about how this new educational app might ultimately be packaged (part of SharePoint Server 15? a separate SKU? an add-on module?).

Office 365 for Education is the successor to Live@Edu and a competitor of Google's Google Apps for Education. Office 365 for Education is set to become broadly available in the summer of 2012, according to Microsoft's web site. Microsoft officials said in 2009 they planned to add SharePoint Online support to Live@Edu, but it only materialized with the new Office 365 for Education cloud offering.

There will be three pricing/licensing plans for Office 365 for Education -- A2, A3 and A4 -- all of which are detailed on Microsoft's page. A2 is free for both students and faculty. The other plans range in price from $2.50 per user per month (student price for A3), to $6 per user per month (faculty pricing for A4).

Microsoft officials said in late January 2012 that they were making technical previews of Office 15; the Office 15 server apps (Exchange 15, SharePoint 15 and Lync 15) and their Office 365 counterparts available to a select group of testers under non-disclosure. A public beta of all of thesee is due this summer. Final versions may be released to manufacturing before the end of calendar 2012, if rumors are correct.

Microsoft officials are not providing any public information about Office 15 at this time. Information I've published about these products is from my contacts who have requested anonymity.

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