When we announced Office 365 at the end of 2010 for businesses, we talked about the way that workers will use the cloud to collaborate more easily from virtually anywhere on any device.

Now we're doing the same for students. And the worldwide announcement is being made at the BETT Show today.

Also in London today, Microsoft announced that 15 million students now use Live@edu, up from 11 million students just three months ago. Office 365 for education will be the successor to Live@edu, which is Microsoft’s current communication and collaboration offering for education.

Office 365 for education will include everything available in Office 365 for enterprises – Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Lync Online, Office Web Apps, and Office Professional Plus desktop software. And the suite also will include templates and pricing designed to meet the unique needs of schools, their teachers and students.

Anna Kinney, Microsoft's director of Live@edu, said Office 365 for education will extend learning possibilities to students while helping them master technology they will use in their future careers:

  Office 365 for education changes the game for schools by offering enterprise-class tools for better communication and collaboration. The ability to work anytime, anywhere across platforms and devices is really powerful, whether that’s a PC, MAC, tablet, Windows Phone, iPhone, Nokia phone or other device. Our customers are expanding the boundaries of the classroom and challenging thinking of where and how people can learn  

When Office 365 launches, existing Live@edu customers will have a planned path to the new platform, and can transition at their own pace. Also, with Office 365 students get enterprise-leading technologies – Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Lync Online and Office Web Apps – for free. Staff get Exchange Online for e-mail and calendaring free - additional capabilities are available under Microsoft’s academic licensing program. The broad availability of these enterprise-leading technologies at no charge for students enables education establishments to create a more level playing field and a well-prepared workforce.

John Perera, general manager of Education Strategy at Microsoft, who's over from Seattle this week, put it in a bigger perspective. As he put it "The shift to anytime, anywhere learning has just begun, and technology’s ongoing impact on education will resonate beyond the classroom."

  If you think about the 20th century and how countries competed, economic output and military might were the primary yardsticks for how countries were measured,” Perera said. “Today, when assessments in how all countries around the globe are doing in math and science comes out – that's the new yardstick for how countries compete. It's no longer about the arms race – it’s how many computer scientists, engineers and stem cell specialists that your country is outputting. Microsoft is hopefully at the center of helping countries create and unleash those types of workforces and those types of students.  

You can read the full story on the Microsoft News website here