Microsoft Wants Students To Give Office A Try, Gives Them Up To 6 Free Months Of Office 365, 20GB Of Extra SkyDrive Storage

With Office 365 out of the door, Microsoft has now set its sights on getting more college students to give it a try. The company, which already makes a heavily discounted $80/4 years version of Office 365 University available to students, just announced a new offer that gives college students three months of free Office 365 access, plus another three months when they also share the offer on Facebook. In addition, students get 20GB of additional SkyDrive storage.

As a Microsoft spokesperson told us, the company is launching this campaign because it has “seen a lot of excitement among customers as they use SkyDrive to access documents and collaborate anywhere on any device. In particular, Microsoft has seen through direct feedback that students are one group that can really benefit from these types of tools.”

To promote this offer, which is open to anybody with a .edu email address in the U.S., Microsoft also launched a new marketing campaign that features “Parks and Recreation” star Aubrey Plaza.

Microsoft’s biggest competitor in this space is obviously Google, which makes its Drive apps available for free. Microsoft Office, however, is arguably a more feature-rich product and still the standard on many campuses. But Microsoft’s hold on the academic world is slowly shrinking despite quite a few colleges that have adopted Office 365 for Education (formerly Live@edu).

Like most offers for students, this deal is clearly meant to lock students into the Microsoft Office ecosystem early, but given that the documents are all in standard formats, you can obviously always leave and take your documents with you. After the trial is over, the Office apps enter read-only mode, so you can only view and print documents, but the files are obviously still yours to download from SkyDrive (and the basic Office Web Apps on SkyDrive will also still work).