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Microsoft offers free versions of Office 365 to nonprofits

As part of its "Technology for Good" program, the software giant donates its cloud-based Office service to all qualifying organizations.

Screenshot by Dara Kerr/CNET

With Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates being one of the world's top donors to charity, it's no surprise the company is initiating a new endeavor to help out nonprofit organizations.

Microsoft announced Tuesday that it will be giving nonprofits Office 365 licenses to use in their workplace -- free of charge. Any organization that qualifies can get the cloud-based service, which comes with Office applications, e-mail, calendar, HD video conferencing, and more. This donation program is being offered in 41 countries worldwide.

"Choosing the right cloud solution increases your organization's efficiency, saves on technology costs, and fosters your best collaboration," Microsoft wrote about its new initiative.

If organizations want to upgrade from the cloud-only version of the service to desktop versions, they will be charged a reduced monthly rate of $4.50 per organization from the usual $20.

The Office 365 donation initiative is part of Microsoft's larger "Technology for Good" program, in which the company hands out $2 million worth of software a day to nonprofits around the world.

"In the hands of nonprofit organizations, technology can boost productivity, increase effectiveness through better collaboration, and extend services to new communities and individuals in need," Microsoft wrote on its Web site. "Moreover, technology can be a powerful force that opens exciting opportunities for nonprofits to better achieve their missions and accelerate their impact."

Via ReadWrite.