[caption id="attachment_27913" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Google and Microsoft stepped up their student-oriented programs."]Google and Microsoft stepped up their student-oriented programs.[/caption]

It might not be on par with the infamous platform wars between Microsoft and Apple that have spanned three decades--at least, not yet--but the rivalry between technology giants Microsoft and Google heated up significantly during the past year, with schools and their students as key beneficiaries.

Aiming to capture the loyalty of a future generation of computer users, both companies now offer cloud-based communication and productivity software to schools free of charge. It's an offer...

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