Sunday, November 15, 2009

Microsoft vs. Google - The Education Edition (Round 1)

The two competing behemoths both understand the growth that will be coming from the education technology sector, and they both want in. This fits in particular with Microsoft’s way of doing business, by creating useful, uniform tools that are used by large organizations, and become so ingrained in them that the switching costs are high. Large organizations (such as a public school or district) is Microsoft’s target audience. This varies from Google's audience which has been more individual consumer focused to date, but is now hoping to expand into organizational arenas.

Let's start with Microsoft Live@edu:

A single sign-on for cloud based portal accessibility
Free email with @domain name for students
Shared calendaring
Office Live Workspace: for collaborative document editing
Creation of notes that can be shared
Windows Live Skydrive: 25GB of internet based file storage
-Password protected - students can decide who sees what
-Drag and drop your folders from your hard drive to the web
-Shared folders: Good for group projects: the whole team can upload, download, and collaborate on documents and other files
Windows Live Spaces: provides a web space where you can share ideas and information using documents, blogs, discussion groups. Great for "group projects, campus clubs, or personal webpages". You can also add people to your network, including through facebook.
Windows Live Messaging
Windows Live Mobile (mobile device access to email, messaging)

Enables you to create, edit, and securely access content from the school's site from anywhere.

Social aspect:
Organize, track and easily share classroom information, interests, expertise and find colleagues. The Windows Live Spaces in particular makes use of blogs, discussions, social networks and accesses facebook.

It offers intergration with all current Microsoft Office, Exchange, SharePoint, and Active Directory systems and software.

IT departments will be given more flexibility and control to set up and manage their school’s collaboration and productivity tools in a security-enhanced environment, as well as the ability to access and manage permissions to sites, documents and content (pictures, videos) with "enterprise-class control."

Learning Management System (LMS) Plug-in:
One of the latest additions is a free plug in for the Moodle LMS, providing access to many of the Live@edu services directly within the popular, open source Moodle application.

Announced on November 3rd, Microsoft has dropped the price in order to compete with Google's free model. This puts Microsoft more in the game in an industry that is plagued with budget cuts, especially in this very difficult recession time.

This is a great opportunity for those organizations that are already reliant on Microsoft Office, Sharepoint, Exchange, and other Microsoft products, to enable users to easily access and edit documents in the cloud. As mentioned above, Live@edu is an attempt to grab a growing sector of the technology market. It also aims to have MS become part of a student's work as students so that they are comfortable and familiar with it when transitioning to the professional world. They write on their own website: "Equip your students for the real world" (aka the world with MS that they won't want to give up).

Stay tuned for Round 2: Google Education Apps.

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