I've been hearing about one of our new products for education - live at edu - for some time now, but to be honest I hadn't really bothered to read up much on it, but I read the mailcall blog entry about it the other day, which peaked my interest.
http://get.live.com/edu is a ready to deploy community / communication suite that delivers a solution for school's / university's communications systems. The concept is kinda like the new Microsoft-hosted MSDNAA servers we will be launching in Australia later this year in that Microsoft provide a vast bulk of the infrastructure, whilst systems admins manage user data and who has access rather than managing the tedious hardware / software issues. From what I can see, you don't have to worry about mailservers etc because it's all taken care of for you.
Essentially a (very) beefed up version of Windows Live Hotmail that caters to university and education use, Live @ edu takes the hassle out of monitoring and trying to protect your email / communications systems in your university. Having recently come off my second uni degree, my biggest beef with university email was that I could only receive emails with limited functionality. Reducing all university email to plain text only in order to protect your university, it's students and it's data is, IMHO, no way to bring your users together.
Whilst I haven't had a chance to see it rolled out yet, Live @ edu looks the goods. It delivers free email to students, allows access from mobile devices (a big advance on my experience with uni email!), lets students develop their own "Live spaces" for keeping in touch with their contacts, facilitates file sharing & online study groups and so much more. The best part is, systems administrators can rely on Microsoft to take care of some of the tech stuff and control spam protection thus reducing workload and freeing your resources up for more important tasks. Uni's always have low budgets for this kind of thing, which is usually why they stick with legacy systems, but rolling out live @ edu
If anyone out there's deployed it in their school, please comment below - I'm interested to hear your impressions.