Home Collaboration & Brainstorming Choosing between Microsoft’s Live@edu and Google Apps for Education

Choosing between Microsoft’s Live@edu and Google Apps for Education


This week's mid week post is a wrap up of the brief 2 part overview of the free offerings for Education from Microsoft and Google that I did here over the last two weeks.

I spent some time looking for notable differences between Google Apps for Education and Microsoft's Live@edu, and while there are plenty of little differences to point out and discuss, few things jumped out at me as undeniable deal breakers.

I compiled a table (below) listing some of the differences between their popular e-mail and document storing and sharing applications. Remember though, there is a lot more to each firm's offerings than what is being compared below – for example, both offer IM, some sort of web site space, and a growing list of additional features, for free to education. The importance of those additional features and functions is largely dependent on your environment and other factors that are specific to your institution.


  Google Apps for Education

Microsoft Live@edu 


E-mail Quota

  7.2 GB “and growing”

10 GB

 Microsoft offers a few different email tools

File Storage Space

A lot, but it varies with the type of file
(click here for more info)

1000+ Files in Office Live; 25 GB (in SkyDrive)

  Google does not currently offer general document storage space (at least, not yet)

Types of Files supported

Only Google Documents (using their proprietary docs, spreadsheets, and presentations – but many competing product formats can be imported from, and exported to)

All file types in SkyDrive;
Office files in Office Live

Multiple users can simultaneously edit Google Docs (but not Microsoft's tools)






If I had to make a choice based on the information presented on their web sites, and independent of a given set of tools already in place in any institution, I would probably lean towards Microsoft because of the (current) breadth of their offerings and the familiarity of the Office applications. However, these tools are constantly evolving, so it may not stay that way for long.

Anyone looking to decide between the two of these can do some research and make their own choice, or … just choose do what The University of Washington is doing, and use them both!

What would you do? Or, did your institution already make the decision, and if so, which offering did they go with, and why? Comments and feedback are welcomed and encouraged!


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  3. Thanks to both Raj and Kyle for their feedback and comments. This dialogue further illustrates the leap-frogging enhancement and expansion of each offering. A good problem to have for those of us who can benefit from either of these tool sets!

  4. Kyle,
    thanks for your comments – I am glad that Google Apps is working out for you.

    Some comments based on your feedback above:

    1. MS provides free solution to faculty, staff and students now (as of late 2008)

    2. We have found most faculty and staff particularly like the Outlook interface, and MS web interface is also modeled on Outlook interface. Happy to discuss this further.

    3. We try to balance “innovation” with “disruption” and change management. We have released 2 major versions of Outlook Live in the last 2 years, that addresses many of the concerns you raise yet we have done it in a controlled fashion that causes less disruption to the business productivity of school IT, teachers/faculty and students. We will continue to innovate and will certainly love any feedback on where we should improve – we view our innovation as a joint partnership with our customers.

    4. We support a wide variety of OS and devices now (we definitely support Mac). But you are absolutely right that our web interface worked better with IE before – it is no longer the case now as of February-March 2009.

    5. As the above article points out, we provide more storage than our competitors and will continue to evolve in this space. More importantly, Skydrive (online cloud storage) offers 25 GB of free storage, something that really resonates with many folks.

    And of course, we are particularly focused on building a solution that respects school’s privacy and security – e.g., our web mail interface is secure by default as opposed to some of our competitors where we have to turn on security.

  5. I’m the CTO at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC. We are nearly the end of our migration from Lotus Notes to Google Apps. We evaluated both (plus Zimbra) and chose Google for the following reasons (some of which may have changed since our evaluation):

    1- Google provided faculty/staff accounts free as well, MS was charging for those (we migrated everyone, not just students). I think this is different now.

    2- More of our students were already familiar with the Google interface

    3- We liked Google’s “innovation curve.” They are constantly adding features and functions to the tools, and the pace felt quicker than with MS.

    4- At the time the MS solution really worked best in IE. We’re a very cross platform school and didn’t like that. I think this may have changed too.

    5- At the time MS offered much less storage. As you noted, that has changed, but I’m finding that Google adds space just a little bit slower than I use it. I never delete any email anymore, and I’m losing about 1% of my space per month. At that rate it will be 8 years before I reach my quota.

    Folks interested in hearing more about our transition can email me at johnsonke@guilford.edu.


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