Dec. 17--Microsoft Corporation, the world's biggest software firm, is giving students in Thailand free access to online office and software services, aiming to capitalise on growing IT spending in academia.
The move by the US giant to give free access to its Office 365 productivity suite is challenging Google's education apps that let 14 local universities access free online email, documents, calendars and video conferencing.
Office 365, the cloud-based version of the well-known Microsoft Office suite, also offers free email, instant messaging, group video and voice chat, online storage and video conferencing. Students and teachers can learn and teach anywhere using a PC, tablet or smartphone.
Haresh Khoobchandani, managing director of Microsoft's local unit, said Thailand is the biggest country for cloud computing adoption in Asean, boosted by the education sector. The country ranks in the top five for cloud use in the classroom via Microsoft services.
Thailand's education sector spends 1-3% of total budget on information and communication technology (ICT), said Mr Khoobchandani. Education is the fifth-biggest ICT spender for Microsoft Thailand after manufacturing, telecom, financial services and media.
The number of cloud-based education users of Microsoft Thailand stands at 2 million students and staff from 60 universities. Globally, Microsoft has more than 110 million students using cloud-based education software.
Mr Khoobchandani cited a study by IDC saying Microsoft Office skills ranked third out of 20 skill requirements from 14.6 million global job postings.
Analytical skill _ the ability to visualise, articulate and solve problems based on available information _ will be a key aspect of raising Thailand's educational competitiveness.
Mr Khoobchandani said Microsoft will earn revenue from the paid-subscription Office 365 service that provides more advanced features.
"Our business performance from the local operating unit in the first six months, starting from July, posted double-digit growth, outpacing overall ICT industry growth of 9.1%," he said.
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