Students Offered ‘Ultimate Steal’ from Microsoft

Financially strapped students trying to make the grade will catch a break from Microsoft. The world’s leading software company is offering its new Microsoft Office software package to college students for less than $60.

Office Ultimate 2007, Microsoft’s latest suite of software to help students and professionals create and organize high-quality documents and presentations, will be available to students enrolled in institutions of higher education with a valid campus e-mail address for only $59.95.

The promotion is appropriately being called “The Ultimate Steal,” considering that the software bundle carries a list price of more than $600, and popular Internet shopping sites carry the bundle for prices that start at more than $200. “That’s cool,” sophomore audio production major Charles Turner said of the special student rate. “Some pay that much for a video game. We are up here for school – not to play video games. If I need it to aid in my school work, that’s straight.”

Office Ultimate 2007 offers a complete set of tools to make almost any assignment – whether for class or for business – easy to complete. The software features a new, more easily manageable user interface as well as a plethora of applications, including the usual favorites found in Microsoft Office suites and a few new programs to help with organization. The software package comes with the 2007 versions of Microsoft Office Word, Microsoft Office Excel, Microsoft Office PowerPoint, Microsoft Office Outlook with Business Contact Manager, Microsoft Office Access, Microsoft Office Publisher, Office OneNote, Office Groove and Microsoft Office InfoPath.

The promotion will run in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom through April 30, 2008. It was first offered to college students in Australia earlier this year as a pilot program to test students’ reaction to and interest in the software.

“We had set some fairly aggressive goals for our pilot, and they were all exceeded based on the great response from students,” Alan Yates, general manager of Microsoft’s World Wide Education division, said in a statement. “What we found with our pilot was that the vast majority of students who took advantage of the offer were very open in admitting that purchasing Office was a low or non-priority for them prior to the offer, and only when they saw that it was easily available did they decide, ‘OK, I will go ahead and purchase Office.'”

The ease in availability Yates mentioned stems from the promotion being web-based. Students do not have to go out and find the product at a store or deal with the hassles of mail-in rebates. They simply must visit www.theultimatesteal.com and provide their .edu e-mail address, a Microsoft spokesperson said. Information is then e-mailed to eligible students about how to download a free trial of the software and buy it at the discounted price, the spokesperson added.

With the pressure to perform well in classes increasing each year, many students find that the applications offered in Microsoft’s Office suite are almost a requirement. Programs such as Word and PowerPoint are constantly being integrated into scholars’ repertoire. These applications have become so mainstream that schoolchildren are often introduced to these programs in class, and many consider them to be the program of choice for completing school assignments like research papers, spreadsheets and presentations. But, many students are put off from purchasing the programs for their personal computers for use at home because of the high price.

“We’re listening to students who have told us they need Microsoft Office for their studies and want more flexible ways to get the latest version,” Yates said. “We’re committed to providing accessible and affordable technology to students so they can meet their academic goals. The Ultimate Steal is the latest in a long history of providing compelling academic offers for students.”

Sophomore political science major Amir Johnson believes it is a good promotion with benefits for both students and Microsoft as a company. “It will allow [Microsoft] to improve their market share and consumer base,” he said. “I am going to get that as soon as possible.”

Some Howard students were a bit put off by the requirement of a valid campus e-mail address to receive the discount, citing the difficulties they have experienced with Howard’s e-mail network.

Senior electronic studio major Tremaine Robinson expressed an interest is purchasing the discounted suite of software, but was weary of Howard’s e-mail system. “To be honest with you, I don’t even use it. Most people think it’s unreliable, but I will definitely use it to qualify.”

Both Turner and Johnson mentioned that they do not use their Howard e-mail addresses, but would in order to take advantage of the Ultimate Steal.

Yates said, “If a student’s e-mail address can’t be verified, they can provide additional information to us so we can work on adding them in the near future.”