Here are some ways students (college, high school, etc) can get Microsoft Office or similar apps for a deep discount. My sister is a student and was asking how she could get discounts on Microsoft Word so here’s a quick guide.
- Office Professional Academic
At the time I’m writing this Microsoft is offering Office 2010 Professional for $80 to students (college, high school, etc). This is the same thing as the Pro version, but licensed only to students for academic (as opposed to commercial) use. It includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, and Access. If you have an email address from your school that’s about all you need, otherwise you can just supply a scan of your Student ID, class list, or payment for classes to prove you’re a student. Pay the $80 online and download, done.
- Office Live Documents (http://office.live.com)
Create (edit/view) Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote docs right online for free! This is a light-weight version of these apps running online and even look like their full counterparts. You can share docs with others (like Google Docs) and you can keep the files in sync on your computer using MS SkyDrive. Thanks to Justin Van Patten for pointing this out in the comments!
- Google Documents (http://docs.google.com/)
Google provides very lightweight free versions of Microsoft Office like apps Document (like Word), Presentation (like PowerPoint), Spreadsheet (like Excel), and a few others. While these apps have the basics (like spell checking), they focus on the basics instead of being as fully featured at the Microsoft suite. A big advantage is that the docs are always accessible from anywhere online, work independent of what kind of computer you’re on (PC, mac, etc), have easy access from mobile devices (like the iPhone), and support great online collaboration with others. Even book authors are starting to use it and my wife and I use Google Docs for most of our shared docs.
- OpenOffice (http://openoffice.org)
OpenOffice is an entirely free open-source “Microsoft Office like suite” of apps (written in Java). It is a quick and simple to download and install. It includes equivalents of most the major Microsoft Office apps as well as staples like spell checking but has its own user interface. The document format is fully compatible with Microsoft Office apps like Word.
- University + Microsoft Run Discounts
Some universities have a paired up a deal with Microsoft to provide many MS programs real cheap to their students. Each school is different in this case so check with your school’s IT support. For example at Texas A&M you can go to https://software.tamu.edu/ to get Office 2010 for $15.
- University Computer Science or Engineering Department
Many CS/Eng departments have a free subscription to the MSDN Academic Alliance program that provides most all Microsoft’s major applications. Just ask at your CS or Eng IT help desk about it. Typically the dept gets discs from MS and put them on a network share. Texas A&M’s CD dept does this and makes it real easy to get if you ask where to look.
- Microsoft BizSpark (http://bizspark.com)
BizSpark is a program for startups that gives you all of the major MS apps (Office Ultimate, Visual Studio, SQL Server, Windows, etc). It is easy for anyone to create a startup business (incl students), all you really need is a name for your business. Then fill out the form on the BizSpark website about your business and you’re good to go.
- Microsoft DreamSpark
MS provides development tools and servers, like Visual Studio, SQL, Windows Server 2008 R2, etc directly to students for free. Now this does not include Microsoft Office, but is another freebie from MS.
- Buy Retail
If none of those options work out, you can still pay full retail. At the time I’m writing this Microsoft Office 2010 Home & Student is $140 retail (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote). If you buy from microsoft.com for $140 you can download it right away, or pay $120 at amazon.com to get a disc version mailed to you.
For a quick comparison of the Microsoft Office 2010 offerings, see this handy comparison table. If you know of other ways to get MS Office or similar products for students for cheap, please let me know in the comments. thanks!