Microsoft’s Library Affiliation Program

Microsoft’s Library Affiliation Program (LAP) is Microsoft’s latest initiative to reach out to public libraries and extend their technology over cheaply/freely. That way libraries get a nice set of tools directly from Microsoft, and Microsoft gets more users to get to use their products first. Public libraries are a starting point for many into the world of information and technology, and Microsoft definitely wants to be there.

Besides school, libraries are also the reaching point where users who don’t have computers, can access them for free. Libraries are among some of the people that help with things like introducing a brand new e-mail account, making documents, spreadsheets, etc., using web search, and all those other goodies. And Microsoft wants to jump into that by offering good deals and exclusive stuff for these people.

So here’s what the most basic general plan that the LAP will have:

  • Reduced-cost volume copies of Vista (no XP) – So buy several packs of Vista all at once and you get a reduced fee per copy
  • Reduced-cost volume copies of Office 2007 – Just the 4 major programs (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access) in multi-user mode (like library patrons can’t save there projects directly on the libraries servers, no messing directly into the program, etc.)
  • Exclusivity to Live Search – I’m not sure, but I think Microsoft has made it so you can’t do Google or Y! Search. Which sounds kinda bad I guess, but they do get users.
  • Windows Live Services promotion – want a new e-mail account? Use Live Hotmail. Want to IM? Use WLM. Want to start a simple blogging site? Use Live Spaces. It’s pretty much just librarians getting newbies to use Live services instead of other alternatives.
  • IE7 library access mode enabled – monitored and customized only by the library, patrons can’t just download or fix anything they want.
  • Microsoft Student 2008 – The only main good thing is the Student Tools for Office and Microsoft Math. Encarta isn’t really that useful.

Microsoft is also giving an advertising-based free products route for ONLY libraries. So libraries don’t need to pay to get Office or Student. Just a medium-sized pane on the screen with ads on it. It can be close, but after every 30 seconds, a new one slides out. Wished they would offer it to everyone though.

There’s also talks with hardware makers to get more reduced-cost refurbished PC’s out to libraries.

So far LAP is only available in the US and Canada, with possible extension to foreign countries soon. This sounds like a really good idea for once coming from Microsoft. I hope it works out. Libraries can definitely use this.

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