Microsoft announced Tuesday that schools that license Office 365 for faculty and staff can now offer it to students at no additional cost. Yes, every student can get it for free! InformationWeek had a good report. Microsoft has been acting more generous lately, and it’s being more public about it. It recently dropped its prices to nonprofits in the U.S. and 39 more countries, and it published an excellent report on its corporate generosity in general.
All of that is good for its own sake, but we believe this is also great marketing. Let alone the fact that by making Office 365 free to students through the schools, Microsoft turns schools into Microsoft resellers. We’re pretty sure that the number one reason why organizations choose Office 365 over, say, Google Apps, is that their users are already comfortable with Office. So it makes perfect sense to bring up another generation on Office, if possible.
In the day, this worked for IBM, who donated, or at least heavily discounted, mainframes to universities. Generations of computer scientists and users of business applications grew up on them and expected them when they went to work. Here we go again.