Press Release

July 28, 2000

Microsoft Agreement Reaches Nearly 200,000 Students, Other Users in First Year

A groundbreaking software licensing agreement between Microsoft and an education consortium led by the University System of Maryland (USM) has put the company's most popular software in the hands of nearly 200,000 students and educators in Maryland in only one year, according to USM officials.

The $1.5 million enterprise agreement, established last July with the Maryland Education Enterprise Consortium (MEEC), has resulted in the placement of more than 155,000 copies of Microsoft Office on computer desktops in Maryland schools, from public universities to independent K-12 institutions. In addition, a total of 40,402 student licenses for the software have been issued for use on students' PCs, bringing the total number of licenses to just over 195,000. The income generated by the agreement tops $3 million.

Under the MEEC agreement, students, teachers and staff members in dozens of Maryland school systems, community colleges, independent colleges, and public universities both within and outside the University System, have access to desktop productivity tools, infrastructure server and messaging products, and operating systems upgrades for three years.

Institutions pay less than $14 per license for each year of the three-year agreement, with two optional years available after that. The software suites, which include word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation programs, as well as Microsoft's internet browser, normally retail to educators for around $150 each. The agreement is not exclusive - participating schools and colleges are free to use and support any other software products they choose.

Donald N. Langenberg, chancellor of the University System of Maryland and the originator of the MEEC agreement, said the high number of users indicates that reliable, accessible software is a key component to the success of PCs in education.

"The personal computer could be and should be the modern day equivalent of the chalkboard in our classrooms," Langenberg said. "The potential for this teaching and learning tool is simply enormous. But, just like a chalkboard, it's only good if you have the chalk to go with it. That's how we must see software - as the tool that completes the toolbox. A year into this agreement, it's clear that first-rate software - made both affordable and easily available - is essential to achieving the goal of computer fluency for all Maryland students, from kindergarten through graduate school."

According to USM officials, a total of 11 MEEC campuses currently license the software for students. They are: St. Mary's College, the U.S. Naval Academy, Capitol College, Villa Julie College, St. Mary's Seminary & University, the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, and five USM campuses, including Frostburg State University, Salisbury State University, the University of Maryland, Baltimore, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

The majority of MEEC participants - 81 other institutions - hold the software licenses for PCs that are available to students, teachers and staff in libraries, laboratories, offices, and other educational settings.

Using the contacts made through the original Microsoft agreement, the USM has invited its MEEC partners to participate in other large-volume arrangements in the past year, including a licensing agreement for anti-virus software. MEEC has also joined with several state agencies to acquire training for information technology staff via the Global Knowledge Network and KnowledgeNet. It is currently negotiating with several other vendors for related products and services.

Maryland is the only state that has such a far-reaching comprehensive enterprise agreement with Microsoft. The consortium unites its entire education system, public and independent, kindergarten through college. All 13 USM institutions, all 16 institutions belonging to the Maryland Independent Colleges and Universities Association, 15 of 16 community colleges, and 13 of 24 local school systems, among others, have joined MEEC at the invitation of Chancellor Langenberg. Educational institutions in Maryland not part of the initial MEEC agreement are invited to join any time during the first two years of the contract.

The USM serves as sole fiscal agent for the Microsoft agreement. The University System of Maryland Service Center, located at Bowie State University, administers the contract. Bell Education, a division of BellTech.logix, located in Columbia, MD, working with MicroAge, a Microsoft-approved large account reseller, provides the software. Bell Education also provides the technical training.

Because of its size, the University System of Maryland can leverage its buying power by negotiating high volume contracts. This model of economies of scale made the Microsoft agreement a natural outgrowth of the System's initiative to develop synergies between the primary, secondary, and higher-education sectors.


Chris Hart
Phone: 301/445-2739
Pager: 301/507-2316