Frequently Asked Question for Office 365 for Education

During the week of the BETT Show I was demonstrating Office 365 for Education to several schools, colleges and universities.


Many questions were asked and I’ve tried to put these down in a list below.

Q: Is there still a free offering of Office 365 for Education?
A: Yes.  If you only want the Exchange mail feature you will be able to enrol for just that plan.  This includes all the offering currently in Windows Live such as SkyDrive.

Q: I already have live@edu, will I be charged when it moves to Office 365 for Education?
A: Your current live@edu will be migrated to Office 365 for Education and to the free exchange offering allowing you to use all the same technologies you have now.

Q: The location of my data is important, where will mine be location?
A: Microsoft have several data centres within the EU.  If you school is located within the EU, so will your data.

Q: When will Office 365 for Education be launched?
A: We don’t know yet but it will be sometime in 2011.  More news on this when it is released.

Q: I think some features are better suited for different staff, can one set of staff be on A1 and others on A2?
A: Yes.  You may find that you want more advanced features for admin staff over teaching staff.  This is fine, all you have to do is subscribe the user to that plan

Q: I have a schools agreement/campus agreement/EES with all my Microsoft licensing.  Will I have to pay for some of the licensing such as Office Pro Plus twice?
A: Microsoft have yet to decide how the subscription of Office 365 for Education will be linked into the new EES licensing.

Q: Is there still a storage area offering as part of Office365 for Education
A: Currently in live@edu you can use the Live features such as SkyDrive.  This will still be offered in Office365 for Education allowing you to have 25GB of storage space in the cloud.

Q: I’m a Network Manager and if my school take Office 365 for education I will be out of a job.  Is there more to this than I think?
A: There is so much to Office 365 for Education and you have nothing to worry about.  It would be a good idea to look at Active Directory Federation Services also known as ADFS.  With this service you will be able configure single sign on.  Consider how you would customise the SharePoint portal and integrate it into your school.  You will also need to ensure that Lync 2010 client is installed on machines, auto configures the right address for autodiscovery in Lync and Outlook.  Take a look at these videos from TechEd as they will help you see the different opportunities with the products. Office 365 Videos from TechEd Europe

Add a banner to SharePoint 2010

One of my most popular blogs is Adding a Banner to your SharePoint but is for SharePoint 2007.  Here is how to do it for SharePoint 2010.


Banner Image

You need to create a banner at the top of the page.  The image by default is replicated so I have created a large wide image which is 2500px by 100px you won’t see the replication.


Building the CSS

We need to create our own CSS file which will be uploaded with the banner image into the same folder.

On your desktop create a new file and call it newcss.css.  Open the file in notepad and add the below code.  When your site is loaded, SharePoint will also look at this CSSfile but first we must tell SharePoint to look at this file.


.s4-title {


    background:#F9F9F9 url('/SiteAssets/banner.jpg') repeat-x 0px 0px;








    padding:30px 0 0 310px;






Reference CSS in V4 Master Page

As mentioned above we need to tell SharePoint to load the new CSS file.

Go to Site Actions and Site Settings.  Under Galleries you will see Master pages.  You will now see a list of different files and search for v4.master.  Open this file in SharePoint Designer


We are going to add a line of code that will load the new CSS file.  Add the code to line 36 on its own line.

<link rel="stylesheet" href="/siteassets/NewCSS.css" type="text/css" media="screen" />



All we need to do now is upload the CSS file and the banner image.

Down the left hand side of your SharePoint page click on ‘All Site Content’ and open the Site Assets library.

Upload the CSS and banner image into this library.


When you next refresh your page you will be able to see your banner on the page.


Submitted Banners

Big thanks and congratulations to Paul Martin who submitted his banner to me.


The default termstore for this site cannot be identified

While creating a site column which uses metadata you may come across the error  ‘The default termstore for this site cannot be identified’.


To solve this issue open Central Admin and go to the Manager Service Applications.

In the list search for your Managed Metadata Service.


Select the Managed Metadata Service Connection and click on Properties which is located in the Ribbon.

For you to use this feature in your site columns you need to have a default location to store column metadata.  Check ‘This service application is the default storage location for column specific term sets.’


You can now create the custom terms for your column.


How much does Office 365 Education cost?

I’ve created a simple calculator in Excel for you to work out how much Office 365 for Education will cost you.

As there are different versions known as Academic 1, Academic 2 etc by simply putting in your number of staff and students you will be able to see how much each of these cost per month.

Download the spread sheet by clicking on the image below


Office 365 for Education Features and Costs

Microsoft have just announced the different feature levels and costs for Office 365 for Education.

Office 365 for Education is based around the Office365 Enterprise but has different levels of features allowing you to pick and pay for what you a looking for.  You can still get some features for free or students still get features for free based on you paying for staff.



Feature A1 A2 A3 A4
Voice n/a n/a n/a Available
Office Professional Client Applications n/a n/a Available Available
Voicemail n/a n/a Available Available
Access & Excel Services n/a n/a Available Available
Office Web Applications n/a Available Available Available
Instant Messaging Available Available Available Available
Collaboration Available Available Available Available
Conferencing Available Available Available Available
Email Available Available Available Available

Office Web Apps are in the table are not the Office Web Apps currently available in SkyDrive.  These are the Office Web Apps available through SharePoint 2010.


Costs A1 A2 A3 A4
Student  Free   Free   $              2  $              5
Staff  $             6  $             10  $            14  $            17

Cost is around per user per month

You can find out more here

At #BETT2011 Show

During this week I’ll be at the BETT Show in London.  This year I am on the Microsoft stand again and thank Microsoft for allowing me to be on the stand answering your questions.  Come say hello and say make yourself known.


If you don’t know anything about BETT visit the website at and here are some interesting stats.

  • 4 days Exhibition
  • 30,000+ Attendees
  • 25% are ICT Staff
  • 20% are visiting from outside the UK

What is a Learning Platform? Short Story

The Learning Platform StoryAre you like Mr Jones? Spending most of the day teaching all the kids about Shakespeare or about the Universe and have no time to get all the information you need to organise that school field trip or check your email.

Or are you like Mrs Lloyd who has to move around from room to room with textbooks, laptop, work sheets, school diary and everything else!?

Well there is a tool out there that can help you. The Learning Platform!

The Learning Platform is a web based tool that can help you with your day to day management, worksheet storage, email and data tracking.

You can view all your school policy documents, an up to date school wide calendar, pull information from the Internet through RSS and talk about the latest news in discussion boards. You'll never have to worry about the kids finding the answer sheets again as you'll be able store them securely in the Learning Platform.

You could also build a student page and give them all the latest news from in and around the school, exam timetables in a calendar or store all the worksheets in a curriculum area.

The Learning Platform StoryLittle James never gets his homework done as he always loses his worksheet on the way home. But with the Learning Platform he can log on from home and can get those worksheets and get his homework done.

Little James parents are always telling him off because they never get the school newsletter, it always gets lost with those homework sheets. But now they can login into the Learning Platform and see the latest news, documents, even see if Little James is attending his lessons and getting good marks!

The Learning Platform StorySally is doing her homework but stuck on her Maths question-she logs onto the Learning Platform and starts a instant communication to her friend Lucy. But she is stuck too!

Sally decides to email her maths teacher. Mr Simpson is enjoying his evening with a cup of coffee and his phone buzzies to say he has an email. He looks at the email and sees it is from Sally, so he sends her a reply and she carries on with her homework.

David always brings the wrong books to school but now he logs into the Learning Platform before leaving and checks his timetable.

The Learning Platform StoryMrs Jones decides she wants to start doing more lessons on the computers so she books the laptop trolley through the Learning Platform and hands them out to her pupils the next lesson.

She has set them an online quiz, and they have 15 minutes to find as much as they can about Romeo and Juliet on the Learning Platform. The pupils use search to find a streaming video that Mrs Jones found and a whole load of other information. They start the quiz and at the end all the results are there for the pupils to see, Mrs Jones can see how her class are doing and Little James parents can see how well he is doing in his lessons!

The Learning Platform Story