The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the governing body for technical education in India is deploying Microsoft‘s Live@edu, a hosted communication and collaboration service that offers email, Microsoft Office Web Apps, instant messaging and storage, over the next three months to more than 10,000 technical colleges and institutes throughout India. Following the move, Microsoft will be able to reach out to more than 7 million students and nearly 500,000 faculty members across AICTE affiliated institutions, making AICTE, Microsoft’s largest cloud customer.

The implementation of the deployment is already underway and is being managed by Microsoft and a set of Live@edu partners, and full deployment is expected to be complete by summer 2012, according to Microsoft.

Part of India’s Ministry of Human Resource Development, AICTE had also reviewed solutions from a range of vendors, including Microsoft, IBM and Google, before inking the deal with Microsoft. According to Microsoft, AICTE chose the company’s solution due to its ability to deploy a system across geographically distributed locations without adding significantly to the institutions’ IT management costs or complexity. The exact monetary terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

According to a statement from the company, AICTE also plans to deploy Microsoft Office 365 for education when it becomes available later this year, offering access to Microsoft Exchange Online email and calendar, Microsoft SharePoint Online, Microsoft Lync Online and Microsoft Office Professional as the technical infrastructure to support member colleges and institutes.

Tablets Next?

The move gives Microsoft instant access to students across colleges, and we’re wondering if this could lead to Microsoft also deploying tablets with institutes, since that appears to be the “thing to do” in India: with Microsoft powered hardware such as Windows Phone and the forthcoming Windows 8 based tablets, being closely integrated with the company’s software solutions, we feel that Microsoft and its hardware partners could be at an advantage, compared to other players. Should we expect AICTE to come out with its own version of Microsoft Windows powered Aakash?