Business School Swaps Google Apps for Microsoft Live@edu

A French business school plans to trade Google Apps, used by around half its staff and students, for Microsoft's rival Live@edu service.

Skema Business School's 6,250 students, 500 administrative staff and 128 teaching staff will have access to Microsoft's Live@edu hosted e-mail service, which includes calendar and contact management, instant messaging, video conferencing and 10GB of storage space, the school announced Wednesday.

Staff and students will also be offered Microsoft Office 2010 under a site-wide licensing program, and access to Sharepoint Online, giving them each 25GB of storage space for documents, whether shared or their own. The applications will run in Microsoft's European data centers.

The school is making the move as part of a three-year collaboration agreement with Microsoft, which will also see the company offer internships to Skema graduates and supply staff to teach elements of a course on social networking, the school said.

Skema describes itself as a pioneer in the use of online collaboration tools for its work. It was created last November from the merger of two French business schools, CERAM and ESC Lille.

ESC Lille, with around 3,000 students, adopted Google Apps Education Edition in April 2008, one of the first schools in France to do so.

Switching to Live@edu will allow Skema to harmonize the IT systems used by staff and students of the two schools, and will also enable it to integrate them with the software used to run the school, also developed using Microsoft's software.

Staff are migrating to Microsoft Office 2010 now; students will move to the new software in the third quarter, the school said.

The win will be particularly sweet for Microsoft International President Jean-Philippe Courtois, who graduated from CERAM in 1983, before it became part of Skema. He is also a member of the school's Council of Strategic Direction.

In addition to its French campuses in Paris, Lille, and Sophia-Antipolis, Skema has one in Suzhou, China, and recently opened another in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Peter Sayer covers open source software, European intellectual property legislation and general technology breaking news for IDG News Service. Send comments and news tips to Peter at peter_sayer@idg.com.

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