Yesterday (Nov 3) at Educause we announced new capabilities that will be offered as part of Live@ edu. These new collaboration and productivity services will be based on the next version of SharePoint Online and be available for students.
The announcement was made at the 2009 Annual Educause Conference as well as in a blog post from Anthony Salcito, Vice President - WW Education.
Based on the next version of SharePoint Online, these new collaboration services, will:
Q: When will the new SharePoint Online-based offer be available in Live@edu?
A: We expect to begin rolling out the SharePoint Online-based capabilities starting in the second half of 2010.
Q: Why is Microsoft announcing this now?
A: Microsoft wants our customers to be aware of the Live@edu roadmap so they can make decisions about what technologies to deploy for their students. It is helpful for customers to know that their technology investments in Microsoft products can be enriched with new services that we are developing.
Q: Why are you planning on adding SharePoint Online-based functionality to Live@edu?
A: Customers asked for an IT-managed, secure collaboration solution for students. They want rich collaboration experiences such as blogging, free form wikis and easy sharing with others. Many of these features are found in SharePoint Online technology. This continues the evolution of the Live@edu services and is consistent with our goal to provide students with a great collaboration and communication experience at no cost, preparing them for the real world from day one after school.
Q: What features of SharePoint Online will be available in the collaboration offering tailored for Live@edu?
A: The features are being designed to enhance the Live@edu offering. We are working with our customers to understand and define their needs and have not yet finalized the feature set for the SharePoint Online-based offering for Live@edu. Some possible features are IT controls and management, MySites, secure permissions based document sharing, cross-site search and in-place editing of documents.
Q: Will faculty and staff be licensed to use the Live@edu SharePoint Online-based solution for free?
A: Live@edu’s SharePoint Online-based collaboration solution is geared to students. Specific licensing and offering details for faculty and staff will be announced at a later date.
Q: Is it really free?
A: Customers will most likely incur other costs in implementing and customizing the service to their needs. The service portion that is part of this announcement is no cost.
Q: Will the features in the Live@edu offering be based on the SharePoint Server 2010 release?
A: No. Live@edu collaboration and productivity services will be based on the next version of SharePoint Online. You can expect the SharePoint Online-based offering for Live@Edu to include the most appropriate features for students and the education marketplace generally.
Q: What features will be included in the next release of SharePoint Online?
A: It is too early to provide the detail offering of the next release of SharePoint Online.
Q: Will there be feature parity between the free SharePoint Online based-offering for Live@edu and the paid subscription?
A: No, it will not have parity. The SharePoint Online-based service offered with Live@edu will have a select set of features specifically targeting student and education needs, leveraging the next version of SharePoint Online. At this time, it is too early to provide the specific details on what will be included.
Some possible features are IT controls and management, MySites, secure permissions based document sharing, cross-site search and in-place editing of documents.
Q: Why should I buy SharePoint Server if Microsoft will be offering it as part of Live@edu at no cost?
A: The SharePoint Online-based service for Live@edu is designed and licensed for student use. It will have a select set of features based on the next version of SharePoint Online. SharePoint Server offers customers a broader set of functionality and includes different levels of customizability, service level agreements and security models. There are scenarios where education institutions may be running learning management systems, student information systems or need features like, search including federation, etc. where SharePoint Server on premises or the full SharePoint Online hosted service would be a more appropriate solution.
Q: Can I purchase SharePoint on premises today and use it with Live@Edu?
A: Yes. You can purchase SharePoint on-premise today and interoperate with Live@edu either on your own or through partners.
Q: What about a SharePoint Online-based offering for Live@edu today?
A: A SharePoint Online-based offering is not part of Live@edu today. Today’s announcement is that we are bringing a SharePoint Online-based offering into Live@edu starting in late 2010. We will share the specific components of that offering at a later date. Customers that want SharePoint today have the option of purchasing SharePoint Online services or deploying SharePoint Server on-premise and configuring it to interoperate it with Live@edu.
Q: How will a SharePoint-based solution in Live@edu be different than the current Office Live experience?
A: It is too early to disclose our plans on differentiation. However, IT controls and management features will certainly be a key differentiator. We are also planning some key end user differentiators – our research has shown end users will benefit significantly from the advancements planned.
Q: How much storage space will I get in the collaboration experience within Live@edu?
A: We are not ready to discuss specifics at this time.
Q: Will I still be able to access my SkyDrive folders?
A: Yes, our goal is to continue to provide students with the best of Windows Live services and SkyDrive is extremely popular among our student users – while details on how we provide access to SkyDrive folders is still under development, we are working to continue such access when the SharePoint Online-based service becomes part of Live@edu.
Q: Is this a SkyDrive offering?
A: No. This offering is not based on SkyDrive. It will be based on the next version of SharePoint Online and will complement the existing technology infrastructure of many customers.
Q: Will customers have a planned migration path from Windows Live to this SharePoint Online-based collaboration and productivity services as part of the Microsoft Live@edu?
A: No. There are no migration plans from a student’s SkyDrive.
Q: Will Office Web Apps be part of the SharePoint Online-based experience in Live@edu?
A: Office Web Apps will be available to Live@edu customers through Windows Live. We are still in the early development phase and not ready to discuss specifics of how the Web Apps will fit into the SharePoint Online-based offering for Live@edu at this point but they will be available.
Q: Are Office Web Apps a replacement for the Office desktop applications?
A: No. Office Web Apps are light weight versions of familiar Office programs (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote) delivered through the browser. Office Web Apps will extend the Office experience on the web by letting customers access their documents from virtually anywhere and easily share and work with others online.
Q: How do Office Web Apps compare to the desktop applications?
A: In creating the Office Web Apps we set out to address real customer needs. Office Web Apps extend your Office experience to the browser for scenarios where you need to access your files from anywhere and work with others. The Office Web Apps will provide a key set of capabilities that make sense to have in the browser for easy access, sharing and making changes. If you talk to a student, for example who is writing a ten page class paper, writing something that long in a Web browser is probably not the best experience and that student will most likely prefer to use Office installed on his PC. Yet, he still is able to access that paper from anywhere, share with friends, get input from professors and make changes if necessary.
Q: Are there also plans to include other services such as your OCS service in the Live@edu offering?
A: We will continue to evolve Live@edu based on customer feedback.
Q: Will you have a beta of the SharePoint Online-based offer in Live@edu available?
A: As always, Microsoft builds its products with feedback from its customers. We intend to have a beta of the SharePoint based offer in Live@edu – however, timeline is too early to disclose.
Q: Will existing Live@edu customers receive SharePoint Online-based services? How will they be upgraded? Will the student data be migrated?
A: Today’s announcement is that we are bringing a SharePoint Online-based offering into Live@edu starting in the second half of 2010. We will share the specific feature set of that offering at a later date as well as details about migration and upgrades for existing customers.
Q: Aren’t you just copying Google?
A: Microsoft has been working with education customers for more than two decades, and Live@edu has been in market for several years. With thousands of schools in 86 countries using Live@edu and new customers signing on to the service every day, we are focused on innovating and providing our customers with the best possible services to improve the learning experience for students, help teachers be more effective educators and give school’s IT staff more control over their IT assets – all while keep the costs under control.
Q: Is this a response to Google taking the lead in the Education market?
A: No. We have over 20 years in the productivity space and a solid understanding of what our customers need and want. We continually strive to develop products and services that meet those needs and satisfy their wants. Thousands of institutions in 86 countries are already part of Live@edu with hundreds more signing up every month.
Q: Will schools be able to use the SharePoint Online-based offering in Live@edu to publish external class sites similar to Google Sites?
A: We will continue to evolve Live@edu based on customer feedback.
Q: Will you support Active Directory, in the service? What other identity solutions will be supported?
A: Today’s announcement is that we are bringing a SharePoint Online-based offering into Live@edu starting in the second half of 2010. We will share the specific feature set of that offering at a later date
Q: Will you be placing ads in the SharePoint Online-based service for Live@edu? Non-students?
A: Our current plan is that there will be no third-party advertising presented in the user interface of the SharePoint Online-based service for Live@edu. Microsoft does, however, reserve the right to display information pertaining to Microsoft products and services in the web interface of the SharePoint Online-based service for students.
Q: Will this service always be free or will you charge for it in the future with these new features?
A: As with Live@edu, the SharePoint Online-based services will be provided at no charge to schools. That said, as we roll out this service, we may consider offering and charging for premium services.
Q: Will this new offering be able to scale to handle the needs of very large education institutions with multiple campuses?
A: We are very confident in being able to scale this offering for our largest institutions.