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Free Microsoft Office for UMBC students

Zachary Canter

Contributing Writer

The Microsoft Office suite is a tool that is essential for all college students.  Students write papers with Word, create presentations with PowerPoint, and use Excel for data analysis.

Microsoft Office 365 University, a subscription based program, is available to all UMBC students from the UMBC Book Store for $79.99.

This includes not only Word, PowerPoint and Excel but also OneNote, Outlook, Publisher and Access. It comes with 60 minutes of Skype minutes and 1 extra terabyte of OneDrive storage, which allows students to download these programs to two of their devices, whether it be a computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone.

Cliff Coleman, Computer Sales Manager at the UMBC Bookstore, reports that in the last thirteen months they have sold 381 copies of Microsoft Office 365 to students. “We started selling [Office 365] to students the summer of last year,” he said “before we sold the disc [version of Office] for $9.99 – and that’s for a $400 program.”

By greatly discounting Microsoft Office specifically for University students, these crucial programs became much more accessible to students on a tight budget. But even better, a new option exists for UMBC students that allows them to get Microsoft Office for free.

Through Office 365 Education, students from qualifying schools (UMBC included) can avoid paying the $79.99 entirely. Still, many students do not even know about this option.

Even with word so readily available to students, some students choose not to use Microsoft Office at all. Logan Stanley, freshman Mechanical Engineering major, says he prefers online applications such as Google Docs in favor of Microsoft Word.

“It’s a lot easier to share work with others if you’re working on a group project,” said Stanley. With so many classes requiring group work and so many professors encouraging student-student collaboration, online services may make things significantly easier and more efficient.

Many students are choosing Google Drive because it allows them to easily access their files.  “It’s also really convenient because you can access your papers [and other work] from any computer on campus,” said Stanley.

By storing files in the cloud with Google Drive there is no need for students to carry their computers around with them, lightening their load and reducing the chances of expensive electronics being lost, stolen or damaged.

Cloud storage also eliminates the need for a flash drive or data disc as your files can be accessed from anywhere with Internet access.

Microsoft answered the call for cloud storage by creating Office Online. Office Online is a service almost identical to as those available through Google Drive.

Office Online allows users to participate in real time co-authoring and share their documents and files with other users through OneCloud. Like the services offered by Google Drive, Office Online is also available free on the web and does not require any additional download.

Some students, however, still prefer having a real file on their hard disks. Akram Khan, freshman Chemical Engineering major said, “I don’t like having to sign in online every time I need to access my files.”

With the push toward Cloud storage, students have more flexibility in the ways they handle their documents. Microsoft Office aims to achieve that by making its entire suite free for students with a simple .edu address sign up.