Microsoft has officially brought Windows 8.1 and Office 365 into its collection of software made available without charge to non-profit and charitable organisations.
While Windows 8.1 is a free upgrade to anybody licensed for Windows 8, those on older releases of the operating system need to shell out for a licence. Doing so isn't cheap: unlike the cut-price launch offers for Windows 8, which saw some licences available for as little as £20, the cheapest Windows 8.1 licences sit at around £70 at present.
For non-profit organisations, especially those on outdated hardware, that's money that could be spent on better things. With Microsoft ending support for Windows XP, that leaves a large number of users seeking alternatives - with many opting to move to the open-source and free Linux platform instead.
That's something Microsoft cannot abide - which may go some way to explain why it has announced that Windows 8 and the Office 365 productivity suite are now available free of charge to non-profit organisations world-wide.
'We’re excited to announce the availability of Windows 8.1 for non-profits,
' claimed Jane Meseck, Microsoft's director of corporate citizenship, at the announcement. 'Thanks to many of you, we received a tremendous response from the non-profit community around the world with the launch Windows 8. Eligible non-profit organizations and public libraries can request Windows 8.1 through Microsoft’s software donation program.
Under the terms of the company's offer, any non-profit organisation which is recognised as an officially charitable organisation in its home country can sign up to the Microsoft Nonprofit Programme. Under this programme, charitable organisations can pick up free licences for Windows 8.1, Office 365, Windows Server and Visual Studio, as well as access to online training facilities to get staff up to speed quickly and cheaply.
There are, however, a few exceptions: the programme is not open to non-profit organisations that have no official charitable status in their home countries; governmental organisations; schools, colleges and universities whether for-profit or not; healthcare organisations which are already covered under the Microsoft Health Programme; commerce and trade associations 'without charitable aims or activities benefiting non-members
;' the use of the software for sponsorship of events, tables, exhibitions or performances or for fund-raising events; political, labour and fraternal organisations; faith-based organisations which are not also a registered and recognised charity; refurbishers who plan to install the software on refurbished computers, even where said computers are to be distributed or donated to non-profit organisations that would otherwise qualify; and individuals.
Assuming that a non-profit doesn't trip any of those red flags, free licences are available. Full details of the software on offer, and how to apply, are available on the official website