A year ago, Microsoft launched its Student Advantage Program, giving Office 365 access to students whose schools provided it to their faculty and staff. Now Microsoft has added a self-serve option, too.
Previously, the Student Advantage Program forced students to contact their campus IT department, who then had to set up the account and provide access to the students. Now, all the student needs to do is to provide a verified email address from the school, and Microsoft will do all the heavy lifting.
Microsoft also announced a corollary benefit: If a school buys an Office disc-based subscription for their faculty and staff, Microsoft will give the faculty and staff a (presumably one-year) subscription to Office 365 as well. The students will get the same benefit, Microsoft added.
Microsoft has been in a perpetual war with Google and other providers to convince businesses, governments, and other organizations to adopt its productivity suite--and quietly shift away from a disc-based, one-time Office purchase to a subscription that can be budgeted for and automatically approved, year in and year out.
Microsoft knows an Office 365 subscription is one of those productivity safe bets that gently lock in an organization to Microsoft's products, and "train" students to prefer Office when they move on to the real world. Once there, students can buy their own personal Office 365 subscription if their employer goes another route. Previously, Microsoft tried to hook students with an Xbox Live Gold subscription, as well.
Microsoft says this new offer makes adopting Office easier on students and on the schools as well.
"These changes not only make it easier for students to get Office, but it makes managing the services easier on school IT," Microsoft's Office Team wrote in a blog post. "In the past, organizations were required to initiate the service, create accounts and order the free licenses on behalf of their students. All this needed to be done prior to students being able to access Office and OneDrive. The new self-service model removes all of that unnecessary friction and delay by simply allowing eligible students to sign up for the service themselves, while maintaining the same level of control, flexibility and security institutions have come to expect from Office 365."