In a deal indicative of Microsoft's lock on the cloud-based productivity software suite market, the company just won a bid to provide 250,000 college students in the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) with software, edging out Google in the process. Microsoft will afford students its Live@edu online suite, which allows educational users access to hosted versions of Exchange and Outlook, SkyDrive cloud storage, and the Office Web productivity suite, which includes Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
It took the LACCD three years to evaluate Microsofts and Google offerings to make a platform decision, and CIO Jorge Mata states, "We wanted to find a standard way for everyone on campus to communicate - We wanted to make sure the experience was the same, as much as possible - If I'm a faculty member and I'm teaching a class, and then go to my office to conduct some business, and then to a lab to help a student, if all those are using the same kinds of themes and interface then that was something important to us." Mata added that if LACCD "was completely Google, then that would have been a major point [in Google's favor]."
The platform also had to work across iOS and Android devices, which also helped Microsoft with the bid. Live@edu supports mobile management and synchronization through ActiveSync on Mac OS, iOS, and Android, as well as on Windows and Windows Phone - and Mata points out that the vast majority of students at least have a smartphone, making Live@edu's cross-compatibility integral. Since both platforms are free, cost wasn't relevant to the selection.
In related news, Google recently launched its Drive cloud storage environment, a competitor of Microsoft's SkyDrive.