SUNY to get Microsoft's Live@edu program

Microsoft's online productivity suite will be available throughout the State University of New York education system, covering some 465,000 students.

Josh Lowensohn
Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
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Microsoft is now providing e-mail, calendaring, and instant-messaging programs for students of the State University of New York.

SUNY's 64 campuses are part of a university-wide Live@edu agreement that covers more than 465,000 students with Microsoft's online productivity suite. Besides the aforementioned tools, this includes things like online storage, video conferencing, and access to Microsoft's Office Web Apps--all of which are offered up free of charge.

In a post yesterday announcing the rollout, Microsoft U.S. Education CTO Cameron Evans said that the deal is saving Monroe Community College--one of the SUNY schools involved with the program--$600,000 over five-years. That money, Evans said, would be spent on making the campus "greener."

SUNY's implementation of Live@edu is one of the largest yet, though overshadowed by the London Grid for Learning's deployment in 2009, which offered the free suite of online tools to more than 1 million students. A close second is the Kentucky Department of Education, which earlier this year moved 700,000 users to Live@edu. Interestingly enough, that move took Kentucky off the on-premises Microsoft Exchange Servers and into Microsoft's cloud instead.

Prior to the agreement, Microsoft says some 70,000 SUNY students were using Live@edu. The other 395,000 or so will presumably be moved over in the first few months of 2011.

Update at 4:45 p.m. PDT: A SUNY student has e-mailed CNET and pointed out that some campuses made the switch to Google's Apps for education platform as recently as last year. According to Microsoft's response (below), it may stay that way for some:

"The agreement announced today makes Live@edu available as an option for all of SUNY's 64 campuses, effective immediately. Some campuses are already using Live@edu today, and for those who are using other offerings and choose to switch, it's up to the campus on how/when they want to roll out Live@edu to their students and faculty."

A Google representative confirmed that indeed 13 SUNY schools currently run Google Apps for education, with a total of 23 schools on or considering using Google's apps platform, though would not say whether those schools plan to drop the program in favor of Microsoft's system. What was said to be a more common occurrence was that schools offered up multiple platforms, letting students choose which one they wanted.