The memo had set June 30 as the last date to install the productivity suite from Microsoft after the American software giant had awarded a contract last year to provide its cloud email and storage offering to AICTE's colleges.
Technically, Microsoft Office 365 is not necessary for students to use the cloud service and functions as a separate application. If the mandate had not been rescinded, over 80 lakh students of technical education would have locked into using the suite, and its proprietary software.
Representatives of the Free Software Movement of India (FSMI) and some Members of Parliament, including CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury, had opposed AICTE's decision, demanding that the mandate be called off. The FSMI especially had said that it was wrong for a public body to enter into a restrictive partnership with a private company.
Y. Kiran Chandra, General Secretary of FSMI, told Business Line that the AICTE decision to use Microsoft Office 365 was in violation of the open standards norm as specified in the National Information Technology Policy, 2012. "Office 365 does not conform to this standard."
AICTE had partnered with Microsoft Corporation India Pvt. Ltd. to implement Cloud email offering for all its institutes. In order to get your institute on-board free of charge, Microsoft Partners - Malhaar marketing Advantage (IMA) will get in touch with you. As a part of Cloud Adoption, all institutes get access to Microsoft Office 365 for Education.
AICTE is responsible for certifying, planning, establishing standards for and coordinating technical higher education in India. AICTE serves more than 8 million students and 500,000 faculty members in 11,500 technical colleges and institutes across the country.