It depends on what your wife wants to do with the Address List, and what kind of data she wants to have in it.
If I would want to register company's, with each company having multiple locations, departments, personnel or whole families with their mutual relations (who's who's nephew etc) I would need the multiple table and relationship capabilities of a relational database system.
If I had to type 1000's of addresses, with check's on statecode, postal code, sex, age and so on, I would need a program like MS Access for its programmable error checking.
If I would want to do a mass mailing on e-mail-addresses contained in it, I might prefer Access, because I've got a module to do so right at hand.
But (weren't I a programmer and using MS Access at my work and for administration for some clubs) for private use I would be happy with just using Excel, and coupling my 'database' to Word for printing labels (possibly after copy and paste a selection to a separate temporary spreadsheet).
Of course, your wife's friend can make a mde-file (an non modifyable executable) of her database. Then all you've got to do is find somebody who can install the free runtime environment and you're done.
Then let your wife start with filling a spreadsheet with her friends, relations and contacts for later import into what should become her own private Access execute-only-database.
But I really would advise staying with Excel, unless there are very good reasons not to do so.
My wife's new PC has MS-Office, Educators Version, 2003, which contains MS WORD, EXCEL, POWER POINT & OUTLOOK. She want me to buy ACCESS so she can create address files for friends, contacts, etc. I told her she can do it with MS OUTLOOK, saving us $'s if I don't have to purchase ACCESS, but a friend of her has her address list in ACCESS, so my wife is of the opinion that she has to have ACCESS or she can't produce her address list. How can I show her how to do an address list with one of my other MS-OFFICE, 2003, EDUCATORS VER.'s applications?