Microsoft continues its effort to win over the college crowd with Microsoft Live@edu. The University of Colorado announced that is is switching from Mirapoint to Live@edu. The main attraction? It’s hosted and free.

What is the benefit to Microsoft? There are two primary benefits:

1. This is a strategic method Microsoft has used for many years – capture the next generation workforce as end users before they enter the workforce. I remember my university switching from WordPerfect to Microsoft Office in the early 90s because Microsoft gave the university a fantastic deal.

2. Microsoft needs to rapidly build its experience and capabilities around hosted e-mail on a mass scale in a more enterprise-like environment. Google is gaining traction in the small and medium business markets with Gmail and poses a potential future threat as a competitor for future enterprise hosted e-mail. The university environment is an excellent place to gain this experience with less risk.

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