Microsoft is giving away 1.1 million subscriptions to Office 365 ProPlus to teachers and students in New York City, a move that complements the company's YouthSpark initiative.

On Wednesday, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced in her State of the City address that the city's Department of Education has formed a partnership with Microsoft to provide free copies of Office 365 ProPlus to all teachers and students in the New York City public school district.

Normally, Microsoft charges schools $2.50 for each student and $4.50 for each teacher to use Office 365 for education. However, this time, Microsoft is giving away the subscriptions completely free of charge.

The announcement has virtually no catch. Microsoft will be making access Office 365 available to teachers and students and will allow each user to download up to five copies of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Access, Publisher, and OneNote on any PC or Mac.

The five downloads will also be applied to Office for Mobile, so teachers and students will be able to access their schoolwork on their smartphones or tablets even when they are away from one of the five computers they have installed Office 365. Users will also have access to apps and add-ins, such as Office Mix to let teachers record and publish class lectures and Lync to allow students to collaborate with other students from other parts of the world.

To top it all off, each teacher and student will also have free 1TB accounts on Microsoft's OneDrive cloud storage service.

It's hard to think how Microsoft plans to make money out of this bold move, but Anthony Salcito, vice president of worldwide public sector education at Microsoft, says it is not about the money. Instead, he says Microsoft is "committed to improving education outcomes and helping people around the world do more and achieve more."

"In the city that is a world leader in so many areas, every student will gain proficiency in what IDC called the number-three most in-demand skills valued for employers," Salcito says. "Quite simply, the integration of Office 365 into every student's daily schoolwork prepares them for future success by developing both the hard and soft skills they'll need as they enter college and the workplace."

Lurking beneath Microsoft's semblance of corporate goodness, however, is the fact that Google just made public its plans to snatch away a whopping 80 percent of Microsoft's customers from under its nose. It's a rather ambitious goal, but Google president of Google At Work Amit Singh has a solid strategy to push Google Apps as the productivity suite of choice in the future. Part of that strategy, as he tells Business Insider, is to let customers choose instead of convincing them to drop Office 365.

"People already own their Office licenses," Singh says. "You don't have to give them up. Let the users choose. Using Google products for sharing or storage, they are just easier."

More than 40 million students and teachers use Google Apps for Education, including the majority of the top 100 universities in the U.S. and seven out of eight Ivy League schools. Last year, the New York City Department of Education approved the use of Chromebooks in public schools, giving Microsoft a problem when it realized the future generation of workers (and paying subscribers) could shun Office 365 in favor of Google Apps.

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