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Microsoft Makes Changes to its Office 365 Education Offerings

April 17, 2012 by Richard Turley

When Microsoft announced its Office 365 Education suite, it was met with both enthusiasm and some skepticism. Some of the issues related to the controversy were reported here, on this blog.

The essence of the issue was this: Microsoft, in pushing for Live@edu users to switch to Office 365 Education, made an array of new features available. However, these features came at a cost to users. Many educators were used to getting certain features for free, and came to fear that they would soon be charged for those features. The concern was the Microsoft was pulling a bait and switch on its customers.

Over the last several weeks, however, there have been some changes made to the Office 365 Education suite. These include changes both at Microsoft and here at Control-Z.

 Microsoft Hears its Customers 
The most important change is that Microsoft seems to have heard the complaints from customers. As such, the pricing model for Microsoft Office 365 Education has changed. There are now three different packages available, each with different costs. At the low end of this pricing tier, there is a package that provides features to students and teachers alike, all free.

Of course, Microsoft will never make a major software package totally cost-free, and this is no exception. The high-end packages still cost money from educators and students. But the concern over educators losing any access to free virtual features has been significantly alleviated. The bottom line is that faculty members now have access to a free version of Microsoft Office Education, whereas, even just last month, they did not.

Pricing Tiers: What Can Your School Afford?
Whether a particular academic institution can afford a particular Office Education package is variable, of course. The completely free package includes only the bare essentials—e-mail access, a calendar, and personal file archives. Beyond that, the pricing tiers are as follows:

  • Plan A1 runs at $6/month for faculty members, and is free for students. To the basic package it adds Conferencing, Collaboration with Sites, and IM & Presence options.
  •   Plan A2 is $10/month for teachers, but still free for students. It includes all of the A1 options, and adds the Office Web Apps suite.
  •  Plan A3 costs $14/month for faculty members and $2/month for students, and offers advanced archive options, Access, Excel, V.mail, and more.
  •  The high-end package, Plan A4, is $17/month for teachers and $5/month for students, and adds Voice features to the package.

    Again, individual schools will have to decide how feasible these packages really are. At the very least, however, it is a step in the right direction to have some totally free features available to teachers.

Control-Z Becomes Authorized Reseller
The other change of note is that Control-Z, a leading IT consulting firm in Indianapolis, has been named an Authorized Reseller of this Microsoft product. What does this mean for academic institutions in the area? Simply put, it means that Control-Z can now bring a new level of IT solutions to schools throughout Indianapolis.

 Becoming an Authorized Reseller essentially means that Microsoft trusts Control-Z to help your school use this product. Control-Z can offer training in the different features offers in this suite. In addition, they can help schools determine which package best fits their institutional IT needs.