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Microsoft student mail checkmates Google state grab

Portland swings away

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Updated Microsoft is claiming victory in its increasingly personal battle with Google to deliver web mail and collaboration.

The software giant has named the Portland Public Schools system, home to 46,000 students across 85 schools, as planning a move to its Live@edu online collaboration suite.

The hipster-heavy city's school system will deploy Live@edu to 8,500 faculty and staff this Fall, and to high school students this year and next – high school covers the ages of roughly 14 to 18.

The win is a poke in the eye for Google, who in January name-checked Oregon State Schools as one of 3,000 businesses who "go Google" each day in an ad carried by The Economist. The four-page spread was targeted at well-read CEOs, CFOs, and commuters using public transport, and was signed by Google enterprise president Dave Girouard

Girouard named Oregon as one more than a million "companies" who'd gone "100 per cent web" by switching to Google Apps during 2010. Google Apps includes web-based email, calendar, and word and spreadsheet documents.

Microsoft US education chief technology officer Cameron Evans told The Reg that Portland decided to perform its own due diligence while other parts of the state swung to Google.

The city had evaluated Google Apps and Microsoft's Live@edu, which is in the process of being folded into the Office 365 brand. Google has dominated the mindshare on web-based email and productivity apps for years, but Evans denied that Microsoft is coming from behind against Google.

He claimed that Microsoft has a high degree of awareness among IT types, and while non-techies might not be familiar with the company name, they know its brands.

Portland is migrating off a legacy Novell GroupWise email and collaboration system. Novell has been bought by Attachmate in a deal that creates uncertainty over the future of its software. "They saw that platform would be end-of-lifed," Evans said.

He said Portland picked Live@edu because it wanted a system that's proven, has enterprise-level quality, stability, and security, and is easier for students and teachers to use and IT to support. ®

Update

Google has gotten in touch to say that Microsoft's Portland win does not tell the whole story in Oregon. "90 school districts in Oregon, representing more than 200,000 users, are already live on Google Apps, and another 100+ districts are in the process of moving to Google Apps," a company spokesman said.

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