Microsoft Office tries to snag college market

College students with a valid ".edu" e-mail address from an accredited institution can snag a download of Microsoft Office 2007 for less than $60.

With ever more free options (think OpenOffice) and college students being a traditionally poor and penny-pinching market, the average college student isn't going to shell out $679.95 for Microsoft Office Ultimate.

The Ultimate Steal, as it's called, lets students snag a copy for $59.95. It includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Groove, Publisher, Access and InfoPath 2007 and Accounting Express 2008.

The eligibility requirements are that you have to have a "valid e-mail address at an educational institution ending with the domain suffix .EDU" or at one of the institutions listed here. On top of that, you have to actually be a student at the school (U.S. only) and be actively enrolled (at least .05 course credits) and be able to prove you're enrolled.

The Ultimate Steal also gives these same college students Microsoft Visio for $55.95 and the Office Language Pack for $9.99 and the Vista Ultimate (PRODUCT)Red Upgrade for $64.95 (though with Windows 7 coming out soon, it might be better to wait).

The main issue is whether the students actually need more functionality than what OpenOffice provides. And the WalletPop blog points out that if you don't need all the bells and whistles of Office 2007 and just need the basics — Word, Excel, Publisher, Outlook and Access — you can probably find the pared-down version of Office in your college bookstore for even less cash — maybe about $25?