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Microsoft gives away three months of Office 365 to college students

To sign up for the subscription-based Office 365 University, you'll need an .edu e-mail address.

Just in time for term papers, Microsoft is offering three-month trials of Office 365 University.

Office 365 University is intended for college students, faculty, and staff. It includes Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote, and can be installed on up to two PCs or Macs. The plan also comes with 20GB of extra SkyDrive storage--in addition to 7 B of free storage--and 60 minutes of Skype calls per month to any phone number.

To sign up, you'll need a .edu e-mail address, and you'll have to create a Microsoft account (which can be tied to any e-mail address) if you don't have one. After signing up for the promotion, users can extend the free trial by another three months by sharing the offer on Facebook.

Microsoft's FAQ page notes that when the trial ends, Office will switch to a read-only mode, which prevents documents from being edited or created. SkyDrive documents will remain available for viewing and sharing, but users won't be able to upload any new files beyond 7GB without buying more storage or freeing up space.

If you want to subscribe to Office 365 University, it costs $80 for a four-year period. The only other options are to purchase a regular Office 365 subscription, starting at $100 per year for access on up to 5 PCs, or to purchase a single Office 2013 license, starting at $100 for the Home & Student version. Microsoft does not offer a student discount on the standalone, non-subscription version of Office 2013--at least not directly through its own online store.

Users who don't have a valid .edu address can try Office 365 for just one month instead. For an in-depth look at Microsoft's latest Office suite, check out PCWorld's Office 2013 review.

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