Microsoft recently announced Student Advantage, a new benefit to qualifying institutions which will make it easy for students to use the latest and best version of full Office at their education institution and at home.

               

From 1st December, 2013, any institutions worldwide that licenses Office for staff and faculty can provide access to Office 365 ProPlus for students at no additional cost. As a result, more than 35,000 institutions worldwide are automatically eligible to deliver the Student Advantage benefit to their students.

Office 365 ProPlus includes all the familiar and full Office applications, such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and offers the ability for these to be locally installed on up to five devices and available offline.

“Students use Office every day for school work and activities that are most important to them. Office not only helps students stay organized and get their work done today, but at the same time develops skills that will be required when they enter the workforce,”  said Antony Salcito, vice president of Worldwide Public Sector Education at Microsoft. “We are thrilled to offer Student Advantage to schools across the globe so students have access to the latest, most up-to-date version of the world’s leading set of productivity tools in order to give them a competitive advantage when entering the workforce.”

Over 110 million students, faculty, and staff use Office 365 Education, according to Salcito. In a blog post, he said that an IDC study of 14.6 million job postings had found that proficiency with Microsoft Office had ranked third among sought-after skills.

This new program will reduce the cost for institutions providing Office access to students at the upper licensing tier. And can now make Office available to other institutions that found implementation to be cost prohibitive in the past. It can also solve that dilemma for students wanting to install Office mobile personal on iPads/iPhones (and eventually Android devices) by providing the necessary Office 365 license. Might even give institutions some budgeting dollars to purchase a pallet of shiny new Windows 8.1 tablets. Just sayin.

Some will look at this as a sign of weakness on Microsoft’s part, giving software away because they can’t sell it. But I don’t see it that way. Providing the complete Office Suite to a new generation of computer users is not a bad thing. If you have never used Office, settling for an alternative might be good enough. What you don’t know won’t hurt you. Sort of like having a steak at Applebee’s.  But if you eat a steak at Ruth’s Chris, or get a taste of the full Office Suite, you wants and needs will change. After that, everything else is a step backwards. Success starts with a good foundation. This increases the awareness and relevance of Office for home and business. Maybe in another ten years, I will no longer run into twenty something’s that are totally Office illiterate. That would be a good thing.

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