The world's largest software maker Microsoft
Corp. ( MSFT ) has announced
plans to offer its subscription-based Office 365 software for
students with up to six months of free access.
Office 365 is a cloud-based software suite officially launched
in 2011. It is offered to customers in the software-as-a-service
Microsoft is offering students, with a qualifying .edu e-mail
address, an opportunity to try Office 365 University for three
months and 20GB of SkyDrive storage for free. Additionally, the
company said that students who shared the offer on Facebook
wouldenjoy another three months of free usage.
Management hopes to entice students with the latest Office,
including SkyDrive's cloud storage, a more touch-friendly design
that works with tablets, touch-screen laptops and collaboration
tools. The idea is to get them started on its platform, so they are
more likely than not to make a purchase after the six-month trial
period is over.
Microsoft's Office 365 University comes with the traditional
word processing, spreadsheets PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook,
Publisher and Access for a price of $79.99. It also offers 20GB of
online storage via SkyDrive and 60 minutes of Skype calls per
Microsoft's Office 365 is gaining traction in the market as it
recently launched its online version focusing on touch devices.
Further, it is being deployed at the stores of retailers such as
J. C. Penney Company Inc. ( JCP ) and U.K.-based
Tesco as well as government departments, such as the Texas
Department of Information Resources, which chose the software for
inter-departmental activities. Recently, the International
Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) also
signed a MoU with Microsoft.
We believe Microsoft's latest plan to offer Office 365 to
students for a free trial is a great way to increase its presence
in the education segment.
Currently, just like other PC makers, Microsoft is also battling
the slump in the PC market caused by the sluggish economy. In
addition, the popularity of smartphones and tablets from
Apple ( AAPL ) and
Google ( GOOG ) has been
cannibalizing PC market sales, further deteriorating the scenario.
Whether it can come out of the slump on the back of its new
software and OS is a wait-and-see game.
As per research conducted by IDC, cloud-based services may grow
into a $100.0 billion market by 2016, representing a compound
annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26.4%. Cloud services are expected to
drive growth in IT going forward, generating 41.0% of overall
growth in IT by 2016. Thus, the strengthening of Microsoft's
position in the segment is encouraging, as the PC market is showing
no signs of revival in the near future.
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