OIT finalizes ProPlus package for student download

The Office of Information Technology (OIT) has announced that Tech will soon expand its MyGT online service to offer free downloads of Microsoft Office to students along with their already existing free offers, although they have not announced an official release date. On an FAQ on their website, OIT had previously said that the software would be available in January of this year.

MyGT was originally launched back in November of last year, which acts as a portal to various Microsoft services. The initial rollout included Skydrive Pro, an online document sharing and editing program, and Microsoft Lync, a software suite used to facilitate meetings and send instant messages. Over the past few weeks, OIT has rebranded MyGT’s various services from Tech-specific titles like “MyGT Docs” and “MyGT Messenger” back to their standard underlying Microsoft brand names and wrapping them all under the moniker “Office 365.” Skydrive, Office Web Apps, and Lync are also currently accessible at mygt.gatech.edu.

But starting sometime in the next few weeks, OIT says it will complete the package by offering free downloads of Microsoft Office ProPlus, a premium service which Microsoft normally sells for $12 a month, to students.

This isn’t the first time OIT stated that they were going to start providing Office to Tech students, nor is it the first time that it’s been reported on. On Nov. 17, the Technique ran an article entitled “Microsoft offers students free Office software,” which stated that Tech would be eligible to distribute Office to its students starting on Dec. 1, 2013. That December launch date ended up falling through.

Rachel Moorehead, Systems Support Engineer Principal and the Email Services Manager for Tech, stated that the reason the date has drifted back is that the University System of Georgia, not OIT, is responsible for the legal agreement with Microsoft and that agreement simply was not finalized in time for a December launch.

“We are not the ones in contract with Microsoft. The Board of Regents, the University System of Georgia, has this contract throughout the whole state,” Moorehead said. “So we apply to them to use this service, and they go through a contractor to do business with Microsoft. There were some legal agreements that we needed to have in place before we moved forward with that—we had them in place previously, but they needed to be re-vetted, and so that was the delay from the last one. And hopefully all of that will be put to rest now.”

Moorehead also discussed how Office ProPlus does not supersede the other MyGT services but rather integrates with them usefully and supplements their abilities.

MyGT provides Skydrive Pro to students at no cost, essentially swapping the free Skydrive storage limit of 7 gigabytes for a 25 gigabyte allotment. For readers unfamiliar with the service, Skydrive can be viewed as Microsoft’s alternative to Google Drive and Dropbox. Like Dropbox and Drive, it allows the syncing of a folder from a computer to cloud servers. While like Drive, it allows editing of documents online and sharing them with team-members.

For those accustomed to Microsoft’s desktop apps however, what could set Microsoft’s service apart is its integration with standard Office.

Once Tech launches its Office ProPlus program, students will have free access to a service that allows them take their document editing from their local PC up to a cloud interface, and back, all within Microsoft’s software interfaces.

Moorehead was quick to note that Office 365 includes some features which have no direct equivalent in competitors’ services, highlighting the ability to create “sites”.

One of the features of MyGT docs is that users can create collaboration site and set it up however they want. This will give users a collaborative space for them to share documents with a group, to have a central task list with that group or to have workflows so people can be notified.

Morehead referred students with questions about MyGT to OIT’s F.A.Q. web page as the source of the most up-to-date information on the OIT Office ProPlus program.