U offers nearly free Office suite

Than Tibbetts

Students looking for free and cheap – not to mention legal – software have a new option on campus.

In June, the Board of Regents approved a three-year, $2.7 million software contract. As a result, students taking at least one credit can buy licenses for commonly used Microsoft products, in some cases for less than the price of a meal at a fast-food restaurant. The deal is good for students at any of the University’s campuses.

Windows users at the University can buy a Windows XP Professional upgrade CD for $3.60 plus tax.

Students can also pick up Microsoft Office Professional Edition 2003 on CD for $4.25 plus tax, while thrifty students with a high-speed Internet connection can opt to download the software for free.

The Office software includes Microsoft Word, a word processor program; the Excel spreadsheet program; and the PowerPoint presentation application.

Macintosh users can buy Office 2004 on CD for $5.15 plus tax, which also includes Virtual PC, software that allows Macintosh computers to run Windows.

Already, more than 1,000 students have taken advantage of the “super deal,” said Shih-Pau Yen, University deputy chief information officer for Academic and Distributed Computing Services.

Microsoft lists the retail price at $199 for the Windows XP Professional upgrade and $499 for Office suite.

Renee Rivers, supervisor at University Computer Services said an e-mail will be sent to University students once the download option is fully ready. She added that students can pick up the CDs at a number of locations around the Twin Cities campuses, including all of the residence halls.

Yen said the deal lets the University give something back to its students, who for years have been beset by rising tuition costs.