Microsoft has started to provide Office 365, the “cloud computing” version of its popular productivity software, to all 1,000 primary and secondary schools in the city.
The three-year programme was launched jointly on Thursday by Microsoft and the Education Bureau with the signing of a memorandum of understanding.
It is expected to help 800,000 pupils and 50,000 teachers expand their electronic learning courses.
Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim said: “We believe that the cloud-based learning model and practice will help teachers to prepare more interactive and collaborative learning programmes for their students.”
Cloud computing enables consumers and companies to buy, lease, sell and distribute a range of software, business systems, data and other digital resources, including storage, as an on-demand service, just like buying electricity from a power grid. “Cloud” refers to the internet.
Microsoft, the world’s largest software company, first teamed up with Hong Kong Broadband Network (HKBN) in February to introduce Office 365 to millions of households across the city. Consumers can subscribe for as low as HK$2 a day, which is less than the cost of a tram ride.
In March, the two companies offered a premium version of the cloud-based software for HK$299 a month to small businesses.
Applications in the basic Office 365 package include Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook.
Kenneth Cheng Kin-man, principal of the Christian & Missionary Alliance Sun Kei Primary School, said the free-to-use Office 365 would allow pupils to “discuss and collaborate on group projects, engage in instant discussions and co-edit their documents online, which teachers can mark and share more timely feedback on”.
Microsoft Hong Kong general manager Horace Chow Chok-kee said: “Our ultimate aim is to empower everyone with information technology and maintain Hong Kong’s competitiveness.”
Microsoft has more than one billion users worldwide of its traditional packaged Office software. Online subscription for Office has marked a big departure for Microsoft, which has relied on physical sales of its software for decades.