Microsoft wants to help students get their lives together (their learning lives, at least), and Tuesday it rolled out a product to help. As part of Live@edu, the company’s free Web-based email and calendar suite, Microsoft unveiled Office Live Workspace, which lets students access their work online and share it with others. Live@edu is in use at more than 600 colleges.
“The most visible new feature is the activity panel,” said Guy Gilbert, a Microsoft group product manager, in an interview with The Chronicle Monday. “Suppose you are in a work group with other students. You can look at the panel and see everything that anyone has done since you last logged on. And links in the panel take you right to that object,” whether it is a document, a spreadsheet, contact list, or database.
Users can also set up e-mail alerts that notify them any time an item is changed.
The service has been running in beta for several months, and of its estimated 100,000 users, 20 to 30 percent are in higher education, Mr. Gilbert says. Microsoft has worked with 13 colleges to fine-tune the service, including Florida Community College at Jacksonville, Vanderbilt University, and the University of Wisconsin at Parkside.
And if the new service doesn’t seem familiar to users of Google Docs, don’t worry. Microsoft’s arch rival also promises real-time collaboration, and the two companies seem to be running neck and neck in the education marketplace.—Josh Fischman