Ryerson still waiting for free access to Microsoft program

Ryerson University students hoping to download free Microsoft Office products will have to wait until legal issues are resolved.

Microsoft initially estimated that Ryerson students would have free access to Office 365 ProPlus, the entire Office suite, last December but implementing the program hasn’t been so simple.

“What Microsoft is offering comes with other applications, like a cloud service, and Ryerson doesn’t have a security and privacy agreement with them,” said Brian Lesser, director of Ryerson’s Computing and Communication Services (CCS).

A few other Canadian universities have already got access to the Office suite. Lesser said these are universities that have Microsoft as their email provider and already had an agreement with them. Ryerson has an agreement with Google, Microsoft’s competitor. The university swapped from RMail to GMail and Google Apps two years ago.

 (Jenn Yoo / Ryersonian Staff)

Lesser said the free downloads will definitely be available at Ryerson for the fall semester, but hopes it will be much sooner than that. (Jenn Yoo / Ryersonian Staff)

Students at Queen’s University, McGill University and University of Toronto have been able to download the free software onto their personal devices since last year.

Ryerson, like most universities, already buys Office products for its faculty and staff. Microsoft officially launched the Student Advantage program in Canada on Feb. 23, allowing schools to give those same products to current students for free. The program has been in effect in the U.S. since 2013.

Lesser said the free downloads will definitely be available at Ryerson for the fall semester, but hopes it will be much sooner than that.

In the past, Microsoft has only given post-secondary students a discounted price. Without Student Advantage, Office 365 University is available to students for a free six-month trial and then at $80 for four years.

The Office suite for students includes Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, Publisher and Access. The package, available for five computers and five mobile devices, also includes the cloud-sharing service SkyDrive and free software updates.

A first-year Ryerson engineering student, who did not want to be named for legal reasons, said he thinks the university making a deal with Microsoft is an excellent idea.

“At this day and age I think basically everyone I know, including me, has an illegal version of Word and PowerPoint on their Macbook,” he said.

The Business Software Alliance finds that almost half the software used across the world is pirated. According to a 2011 study in the Journal of Computer Science and Technology, colleges and universities are breeding grounds for software piracy.

Lesser said the Student Advantage program is in Microsoft’s best interests, as it ensures students use their products legally. He adds that CCS is always looking to provide students with as many free technological services as possible.

The university currently gives students access to free anti-virus, statistical analysis and programming software.

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