At $99.95 USD*, Microsoft Office University 2010 for PC and Microsoft Office for Mac University 2011 are cheaper than their traditional academic counterparts, the $119.99 USD Microsoft Office Home and Student 2010 for PC and Microsoft Office for Mac Home & Student 2011.
* From August 6 - September 14, 2012, Microsoft Office Home and Student 2010 and Office University 2010 are 15% off the estimated retail price.
Since both suite types are marketed to students, what's behind that price difference?
Office University Is Plush with Programs
Typically, a discounted suite means fewer applications or reduced functionality. It’s usually more of a bare-bones model. But close examination reveals that the Office University’s lower price is surprisingly not about “cutting the fat.” In fact, this suite contains more than appears in Office Home and Student, such as integrated functionality with Microsoft’s Office Web Apps, as well as more programs.
Comparison of Microsoft's Student Suites for PC
Comparison of Microsoft’s Student Suites for Mac
How Microsoft Authenticates Students
Microsoft is keeping tighter watch on whether academic buyers are in fact currently affiliated with a qualified learning institution. The two student suites follow Microsoft’s bifurcation of student types based on education licensing options.
- Office University Suite: Intended for higher education students and instructors.
- Office Home and Student: Intended for elementary or secondary students, instructors, and parents.
If you purchase Office University Suite, you will be asked to provide a student ID number or an email address ending in .edu (as a student, faculty, or administrator).
Verification re-occurs should you buy a similar suite again in 12 months.
Where to Buy Microsoft Office University Suite
Your college or university probably retails the PC and Mac versions of Microsoft University Suite. You can also order online or search for the closest retailers through Microsoft's online academic store.
I suggest online retailers such as newegg.com or retail listing sites like nexttag.com. It beats standing in line or, if you’re like me, struggling in front of everyone to provide authentication information you should know off-hand. Be cautious when shopping online by sticking to reputable sites.
Most recent PCs and Macs will fit the bill. Remember, Microsoft wants everyone to buy their productivity suite.
That said, it is important to check the details carefully. Keep in mind that certain features require that you sign up for a free Windows Live ID. Some mobile functionality requires Office Mobile 2010. A supported internet connection and browser are assumed as well. For complete recommendations on these and other requirements, always check out Microsoft's full system requirements before you buy.
The Final Analysis
The components of University Suite can be purchased piecemeal by students and non-students alike, but University Suite is conveniently packaged, with a cheaper price tag. Please let me know any experiences or questions you have regarding student software.