Microsoft announced their release next week of a new suite of software services, meant to compete with web software like Google Docs, etc. offer.
If I am understanding it correctly, some tools will be free(like a photo sharing tool which sounds similar to Picasa from Google), and some will be ones that Microsoft charges for. One of the downsides I see already for schools is that it sounds as though the tools have to be downloaded to the users’ computer.
One of the beauty of many of the web apps, (not all) is that they can be used online. So if a student has an older, slower computer, they can still use them.
A couple of items they are rolling into Microsoft Live that I wasn’t aware of are Skydrive(which allows online storage space–which would be a huge help for students), and FolderShare(which allows folders to be shared computer to computer).
It’ll be interesting to see how these tools play out. Personally, since Windows and Vista are often fraught with errors and security risks, I’m not sure I’m eager to download more tools from Microsoft onto my own computer. And I wonder if the dance they are doing to “protect” their paid software, like Excel and Word, will limit what they can offer for free online–negating their competition with Google Docs.
One good element of the new tools, however, is that you can pick and choose which ones to download. So students or schools could mix and match tools like Google Docs or MSN’s choices.