As educational budgets shrink and the need to cut costs becomes a priority, Google and Microsoft have approached Universities and other educational institutions to offer them outsourced services like emails and other personal features - calendaring, photo hosting etc.
Andy Guess (opens in new tab) from Inside Higher Ed suggests - and he's right - that outsourcing those services will become the norm at educational institutions in the next few years worldwide.
Guess added that "Jeff Keltner, Google’s enterprise specialist for collaboration products, said institutions at six of the seven continents use its education services, with several hundred thousand active users logging in at a regular basis from several thousand campuses around the world. "The senior product manager for Microsoft’s Live @ edu program, Bruce Gabrielle, said the company has some 450 higher education clients, which ballooned from 300 since the end of June 2007."
Obviously, that's an easy, rather painless way of getting new converts and hope that they will not move to something else later in life.
Google has also pursued other big clients like Sky broadband which has recently announced that it is moving all its one million UK users to Google Apps.
The logic behind the whole process is simple - rather than providing add-on features that costs money to run, let someone else (Google or others) do the dirty job and even get a (small) share of the profits.