Microsoft Student with Encarta Premium 2007 offers more math features and a lower price than the 2006 version. The new, step-by-step math resources are a great way to learn and understand math problems. Other features such as foreign language verb conjugations, writing style guides, and access to Encarta Premium 2007 are solid tools for busy students, and the clean interface is inviting. Student's lower price doesn't mean it's a bargain, though: you'll need to buy Microsoft Office XP or 2003 separately to use Student's presentation, chart, and graph templates, and tech-support calls and e-mails cost extra. If you already have Office and don't need technical support, Student 2007 can be terrifically useful. If not, think twice about how much Student may ultimately cost.
We set up Microsoft Student with Encarta Premium 2007 from the enclosed DVD in about 20 minutes in our tests on a Windows XP system. During the application's installation, you're invited to join Microsoft's Customer Experience Improvement Program, which monitors your use of the product.
You pay a price for convenience with Student. The time-saving presentation, chart, and graph templates in Student rely upon Excel and PowerPoint, not included with Student. If you don't already have Microsoft Office, then the $149 for Office Student and Teacher Edition 2003, or a more recent version, will substantially increase Student's $69.95 price tag (not counting the $20 mail-in rebate).
The interface of Student 2007 is friendly, clean and easy to use--important for the audience of sixth to twelfth graders grappling with complicated school projects. Borrowing from Encarta, Student has three large buttons to navigate to and from the home page: Homework, with math and foreign language help tools; Projects, with tips and templates for common school projects; and the catch-all Discover and Learn category, with links to Encarta, college-preparatory materials, games, and other miscellany. There are four intuitive pull-down menus, and a Homework Tools button links you to help with math, geography, foreign languages, literary subjects, and other topics.