Microsoft is introducing changes to our storage offerings across our Microsoft 365 suite. Beginning at customers' next contract renewal, but no sooner than August 1, 2024, all schools will receive 100 TB of free pooled storage – where storage is shared across OneDrive, SharePoint, and Exchange, plus customers get additional 50GB-100GB pooled storage per paid user, depending on the paid license type (not including student use benefits). With pooled storage, the total storage limit is the maximum amount of storage combined a customer can use. In addition, effective February 2024, users of Office 365 A1 (free SKU) will be limited to a maximum of 100GB for OneDrive storage, within the 100TB of pooled storage for the institution. Customers will have the option to purchase incremental storage based on needs. Some of the benefits we expect to see include helping schools reduce some of the security risks associated with legacy storage and data sprawl, a top concern for most chief risk officers, while also benefiting our shared environmental footprint. Learn more in the Storage FAQ
Additionally, on August 1, 2024, Microsoft will retire the Office 365 A1 Plus program, a free Office subscription that includes Office desktop apps for qualified schools that purchased Office institution-wide for faculty and staff. This program was introduced in 2015 to ease the provisioning burden for IT of moving users to the cloud. While the intent was to help schools with their transition, it also introduced a level of complexity leading to compliance issues for customers, with many inadvertently becoming non-compliant. Today, Microsoft 365 A3 and A5 licenses are easier to provision, both addressing customer requirements and the need for a transitional program. All existing Office 365 A1 Plus licenses will expire as of August 1, 2024. Note: A1 will continue to be available to customers for free when accessing web apps. Learn more in the A1 Plus Retirement FAQ.
Why is Microsoft Making this Change?
With the move to the cloud, stored files, data, and unused accounts have increased significantly over time, as more and more stored files and data have proliferated without a plan for end-of-life. From a cost perspective this is not sustainable, and it puts education institutions and their students at risk for a data breach. Today, education is the most affected industry by cybercrime, with K12 receiving over 80% of workplace malware attacks alone.
In addition, stored files no longer in use have an impact on our carbon footprint with over half of all data stored by organizations not serving a useful purpose. Because of this "dark data” over 6.4 million tons of CO2 was unnecessarily released in the atmosphere in 2020 alone. That equates to one car driving around the earth 575,000 times. Microsoft is committed to both the security and privacy of school and student data as well as reducing our collective carbon footprint. Already, our datacenters are built with the highest environmental standards in mind. With this change, education customers can help do their part.
Finally, Microsoft’s mission in Education is to empower students, faculty and institutions to achieve more. To achieve this mission, Microsoft continues to innovate on new technology, tools and services for educators, such as the new learning accelerators introduced earlier this year to help students with reading and other essential skills. Today, Microsoft provides Microsoft Office and Microsoft 365 for Education suites built for education through free software grants or at significant discounts off commercial pricing. With these new updates we are able to continue to invest in meaningful innovation while offering those services to more institutions around the world.
What does this mean for schools?
In order to help schools with this transition Microsoft is delivering a set of free tools to help customers manage the process end-to-end including tools to visualize current storage allocation and usage across OneDrive, SharePoint and Exchange and tools to more easily manage stored data or end-of-life stored files that are no longer needed. Today, most schools (99.6%) are well below their storage allotment. With new tools, all schools can now better manage their information and set thoughtful policies for governance. Customers can see their current storage profile and access the new storage management tools through the M365 Admin Center. For storage guidance download the Microsoft 365 Storage Guidance ebook.