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office-620x465It pays to stay in school, especially if you’re a public school student in Maryland. Microsoft announced today that families with kids in Maryland’s public schools will be able to get free access to Office 365.

The subscription is a part of a larger project by Maryland’s public schools and Microsoft to bring students together with technology. The company will also provide a one-year license for its Microsoft IT Academy program to 25 schools across the state in order to prepare students for future careers working with tech.

“We are deeply committed to working with educational leadership to use the power of technology to provide schools and homes the software services, training, and tools that empower instruction and learning,” Jamie Harper, Microsoft’s General Manager for U.S. Education, said in a press release.  “We are pleased to work with the State of Maryland on these programs that will bring students skills and certifications to better help prepare them for college and the modern workforce.”

In addition to providing key productivity tools to students, the free Office 365 ProPlus subscription will help Microsoft compete for user share among students. That’s important, since Google has been pushing its Google Apps productivity suite even harder in the education market, and Apple makes its iWork suite available to anyone who purchases one of the company’s devices.

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