You’ve long been able to go to a local retailer for some time and pick up a “student” edition of Office for around $150 (often on sale for less after instant or mail-in rebates). You’ve never had to prove your student status for those items, and it became a relatively inexpensive way to obtain a “standard” version of Office for pretty cheap.
Plenty of college campuses have done deals with Microsoft as well, offering Office and other MS products for ridiculously low prices (realizing, of course, that student tuition and fees are subsidizing that to some degree). $10 copies of Windows, $20 copies of Office, etc weren’t unheard of.
Microsoft is trying something new; it may or may not be for you, though (keep reading).
Starting today, they’re offering Office Ultimate 2007 for $60. Early word is it will be download-only. The program goes live later today (around 1pm US-Central time, although the site’s countdown clock has been a little wonky), and runs through April of next year. The website for it is here:
The exact licensing terms are still unavailable. I strongly recommend you review the license terms (once the site goes live and those terms are posted), of course. In the cases of university programs that have offered MS software in the past, sometimes students were granted perpetual licenses for any software they still owned at graduation time. Other agreements called for license suspension at graduation, or terminated licenses if you never graduated at all. Pricing has also varied wildly. No idea yet if the installation will be limited to a single PC or allow a few installs (as other “student” editions have in the past) so you end up with the home PC, the laptop, etc, all covered.
Bottom line, though: for the money, even if the license expires upon graduation, $60 through this new program is a pretty darn good deal. The suite has a retail value of $679.
ALL THAT SAID, you should still check with your university (probably your campus bookstore) and see what they’re offering. You may well get a better deal from them than this one, still.
ArsTechnica has more details on MS’ TheUltimateSteal program here: