By now, I hope you have seen the press coverage in ZDNET and eSchool News. Microsoft announced a new technical collaboration agreement with ePals, and we will work with them to make Live@edu available to their customers, and in the future, Office Web Apps and features of SharePoint Online. Around the world, ePals reaches about 25 million students, teachers and parents through their networks, and I’m excited about the potential they will have to use Live@edu to advance digital learning and collaboration opportunities in the classroom. 

Live@edu actually started on our consumer platform with product offerings like Hotmail, and we quickly realized schools not only required a better way to integrate, but they needed more robust controls for security, data privacy, compliance, identity control and risk management. We wanted to provide a flexible environment, but with no compromise with regards to delivering rich technology resources for free or at no cost, so schools wouldn’t be risking the safety of students online by using cloud technologies. This meant not only offering technology in the cloud, but technology that was enterprise-ready with security and policy management controls schools require.

Today, Live@edu schools get Outlook Live that runs on Exchange 2010. You can also integrate Office and SharePoint Server which are extensible platforms with rich APIs for our partners and serve as building blocks to really make Live@edu coming alive in learning contexts. Partners can leverage Exchange Web Services and write to the data transport engine, calendaring and task tools, etc. and create new experiences to scale their offerings to more people around the world.

Our partners are going to help take us to the next level with Live@edu. In addition to ePals, last week we announced a similar deal with it’s learning, an international learning platform provider based in Norway. They are starting a migration plan to move their 2 million users to Microsoft’s cloud services for education. Yesterday, I blogged about Agilix’s solution making Live@edu more relevant for teachers. And we are also working with CSI Technology Outfitters to include Live@edu as part of their CSI@K12 solution that also happens to be eligible for E-Rate reimbursement.

We are seeing companies offering new complementary services every month. For archiving, CGS, Full Armor and CSI are now offering services on top of Live@edu. CGS, B2B, Full Armor and Messaging Architects can also migrate schools to Outlook Live from various platforms including GroupWise, Exchange on-premise or even Gmail.

I am looking forward to the year ahead with not only Office Web Apps and features of SharePoint Online coming…but also seeing what new services our partners will deliver to help meet the unique policy, privacy and protection needs of education. It’s all about connecting educators and students to do the work they need to do to really advance learning and create interactive and rich experiences.