In response to “Engineering students locked into Microsoft Office"(The Hindu, 23 April, 2013), a spokesperson of Microsoft writes:

1. The story mentions that the service “may be more expensive than the use of an open source equivalent in the long run”. This is a free of cost service and the question of being more expensive does not arise.

2. The story also mentions “…Microsoft Office 365, a productivity suite, which has little to do with the functioning of the cloud-storage service”. Microsoft Office 365 is a cloud service and is rendered off the cloud. It’s a productivity and collaboration enhancing offering and comes with free storage on the cloud. The statement mentioned in the quotes is inaccurate.

3. The story also mentions “Open source requires no initial investment, with many vendors offering support and maintenance at half the price charged by proprietary software vendors”. The details of the SKU offered as a part of the AICTE agreement will clarify this.

Anuj Srivas and Vasudevan Mukunth reply:

An attempt to reach Microsoft was sought before the story was released. That said, the question of support and maintenance costs are not completely addressed. If the support is taken care of by Microsoft, the question then remains for how long?

There is no way to understand how expensive or cheap this may turn out to be, as we don’t know for how long Microsoft will provide support. Another equally important point is the constant update cycle that the software will require. The costs of ensuring constant updates to make sure it remains compatible are an unknown cost.

Secondly, if these cloud offerings were installed on Mac OS X or any form of Linux - the support and maintenance required for this could possibly be more time-consuming and expensive. It is unclear whether Office 365 runs properly on any Linux distribution. The reason the word ‘may’ was used in our story was because no precise calculation can be made without taking into account support costs.

Lastly, the initial cloud-based offering mentioned in the contract is Live@edu, which offers e-mail, web apps, instant messaging and storage. Office 365, which contains a number of business offerings too, is primarily a word processing software that runs off the cloud and thus is not an essential part of the initial offering.