FREE Office 365 for Students, Faculty, and Staff!? Unpacking Microsoft’s Latest Announcement

December 3, 2014
Editorial Staff


Editorial Staff

Microsoft is once again taking strides to make education more innovative for students, faculty, and staff by making Office 365 ProPlus available across the board; previously, Office 365 ProPlus was only available for students.

This announcement coincides with Microsoft’s September 22ndinitiative to make Office 365 easily available for students to procure via a new self-serve model designed to ease the burden on the school’s IT department. In other words, students no longer have to rely on the school to initiate the service, students can now obtain Office 365 themselves – for free!

Benefits of Office 365 in Education – Simple Provisioning, Licensing, and Compliance

With the growing prevalence of tablets in schools to boost productivity and collaboration, Microsoft is offering Office 365 to students and teachers whose institutions are enrolled in a Microsoft Volume Licensing program. Qualified users will receive:

  • Office365 ProPlus
  • The latest versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Access, and Publisher
  • Installation on up to 5 PCs or Macs, and Office apps on other mobile devices
  • Unlimited OneDrive cloud storage
  • Office Online

As the first cloud-based productivity service to use security frameworks based on ISO 27001 standards verified by an independent auditor, Office 365 eases the burden on Legal and IT by maintaining compliance regarding robust Data Processing Agreements, EU model clauses, and HIPAA Business Associate Agreements. Simply put, Office 365 is secure, compliant, and ready to go right out the box.

The licensing criteria is straightforward – owning any of Microsoft Volume Licensing plans ensures eligibility to the Office 365 Education Benefit. Ideally, organizations will want to be enrolled in one of the below agreements structures:

  • Open Value Subscription Education Solution (OVS-ES)
  • Campus / Enrollment for Education Solution (EES)

To procure Office 365, Microsoft offers a free, unmanaged provisioning service where qualified students, faculty, and staff can download Office 365 in a matter of minutes. However, the keyword here is “unmanaged,” and this is where SoftwareONE’s expertise as a certified Microsoft cloud partner can further ensure the ongoing compliance and provisioning management of your constantly revolving Office 365 enrollment base.

Provisioning Office 365 for Students, Faculty, and Staff

Microsoft is only taking this service so far – they’re providing the free installation of Office 365 for qualifying education institutions right on the website, but the school’s IT itself is responsible for procuring the appropriate number of licenses as well as proper provisioning and management of those licenses.

Some important questions IT Administrators should ask themselves include:

  • How should we distribute the Office 365 licenses?
  • Do we have proper turnover management regulations in place?
  • How will we manage user identities?
  • How does the Service deal with multi–tenants?
  • How do we manage staff and students who do not have a unique email domain to register?

After acquiring the Office 365 Education licenses, Microsoft no longer plays a role in assisting the customer IT with the management of those licenses. A typical education institution has about 10 times more students than staff. To further complicate matters, many IT departments do not have the time to manually deploy and support the yearly turnover of students enrolling and graduating from the school.

The SoftwareONE Academic (SWO-ACAD) service assists IT Admins throughout the entire provisioning lifecycle. Qualified users can go directly to the SWO-ACAD portal to connect their Microsoft Online Console with the portal, after which the Administrator distributes his URL and is granted access to full lifecycle management of Office 365 Education. Learn more in the video below.

Free Office 365 ProPlus to Your Staff and Students for Christmas

More than 400 educational institutions in 10 different countries are using the SWO-ACAD service already. SWO-ACAD is available globally and works with existing SoftwareONE Customers as well as customers who previously signed an agreement with another partner.

As a Christmas promotion we offer for the first 100 customers the service at no cost for the first year.

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