As the opening sessions at UCISA 2012 come to a close, and the social festivities are about to kick off, there doesn’t seem to be a more appropriate place to be to make the following announcement. The post below from our Microsoft Office blog explains the announcement with much more clarity then I could, but in essence, in line with our longstanding commitment to education, we our making our “A2” service plan free to not only students, but also to faculty and staff. Exciting news!

“Customers continue to give us fantastic feedback on Office 365. Since we launched last summer, we've been happy to serve great companies like JetBlue, Patagonia, Campbell Soup Company, Groupe Marie Claire, and Tata Steel Europe. We're regularly delivering new value in the service, releasing updates now monthly, and recently brought Office 365 to another 22 new markets to grow our global footprint to 64 geographies - with more to come!

As we rapidly add customers, the cost to run Office 365 becomes more efficient. This is the beauty of the cloud where we can deliver economies of scale through our worldwide data centers and economies of skill with our engineers, administrators, and support teams operating the service.

With these efficiencies, we're able pass on savings to make it even more affordable for customers of all sizes to move to Office 365. So, I'm thrilled to announce that we're lowering the prices of most of our Office 365 for enterprise plans by up to 20%. These changes are effective today at Office365.com for new and renewing direct customers.

We are also excited to make pricing changes to Office 365 for education. In line with our longstanding commitment to education, we will make our "A2" service plan free to not only students, but also to faculty and staff. A2 includes the core capabilities of Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync and the Office Web Applications. Exchange Online and Lync Online are available today for academic institutions, and we'll launch the full Office 365 for education service starting this summer. You can get more information on our Office 365 for education offering here.

I want to thank all our customers and partners for making the last eight months a great start for Office 365.

Kirk Koenigsbauer

Microsoft Office Division

For those at the UCISA conference, we look forward to answering your questions regarding the announcement on stand 22. Pop over and speak to Damon, Richard or Stevie.