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Student & Teacher Edition of Microsoft Office


Student & Teacher Edition of Microsoft Office

EXCERPTED FROM Woody's World of Windows:


One of the cute marketing tricks of recent years has been Microsoft's bundling of some Office components into a 'Student and Teacher' edition. 
The Student and Teacher edition of Office 2003 for Windows  is available in most retail stores and from reputable online stores.  It contains the standard versions of Word 2003, Excel 2003, Powerpoint 2003 and Outlook 2003 - which is the same as the 'Standard Edition' of Office 2003.  It's a similar story with Office 2004 for the Macintosh.

The difference isn't the software - it's the license and price.

Windows: the Standard edition of Office 2003 retails for US$399 while the upgrade pack is $239.  The same software in the Student and Teacher box is only US$149.

Mac:  the Standard edition of Office 2004 for the Mac retails for $399 while the upgrade pack for previous Office users is $239.  The Student and Teacher edition is only $149.

Throughout we'll give US retail prices - though usually you can obtain a cheaper price, especially online.    See our online shops for the USA

Similar price differences apply in other countries that have Student and Teacher editions including the UK and Australia.  Check you local Microsoft web site to see if this special bundle is available in your location.

The Student and Teacher edition is for "non-commercial (non-revenue generating) use" and you can install it on up to three computers in a household.

That is different from the standard license that allows installation on one computer only plus a "second, portable device for the exclusive use of the primary user".  In other words the standard Office license is for use by one person only on a desktop or portable computer.

We believe that the Student and Teacher Edition does NOT qualify for future upgrades - though we can't see anything that explicitly says that in the current Microsoft documentation.

According to the end user license the user has to be a "Qualified Educational User" or in the household of a "Qualified Educational User" - strangely that term isn't defined in the EULA directly.  Instead it refers to "Qualified Educational-User Criteria' set forth on the product packaging for this Software at the time of installation."

And on the box that we have it says:

"Qualifying Criteria
- Full or part-time student
- Home schooled student
- Full or part-time faculty or staff of an accredited educational institution
- Member of a household meeting any of the above criteria
Noncommerical use only "

There's more on the rules on the Microsoft web site .

Interestingly that site says you are eligible to use the product after the qualified educational user no longer qualifies.  In other words you have to be an educational user at the time of purchase but your license doesn't expire if you stop your formal education.

In the last section we tell you the legal details of the Student and Teacher license - but here's what really happens ...

Anyone who wants it, buys it.

That's right - there's no check made that there is a 'qualified educational user' in the household.

In retail stores the salesperson may ask if you're a student, but that's only because they are on commission and will want to sell you the more expensive version of Office if they can.  You can grab the Student and Teacher Edition off the shelf and take it to the cashier without any questions asked or purchase it online also with no questions asked.

The Product Activation system can control the installation on more than three computers - but there's no direct way to ensure that Office is being installed on computers in a single household.


According to Microsoft (as recently quoted in Wired magazine) - 'we trust our customers' but in practice the company must know that people are buying the package and installing it when not qualified.

The Student and Teacher Edition is often the best selling version of Office and that doesn't make sense if all the purchasers are truly qualified.  Microsoft is turning a blind eye because it suits them.

There's various theories as to why Microsoft released the Student and Teacher edition - the truth is probably a mixture of them.

The Student and Teacher edition lets Microsoft offer Office at a lower price and thus fend off the various small rivals - the idea is to stop any of these Office wannabes from getting a foothold in the market by having a lower price.  Sure, Office rivals cost less, but at US$150 Microsoft figures many people will pay a slightly higher price for the 'real' Office.

So why not just cut the price of Office across the board?  If Microsoft dropped the price of Office Standard then all the other bundles would have to become cheaper.  Worse still the volume license prices would drop.  Worse again, some large special license users (such as governments) often have a deal where they are charged the guaranteed lowest price - if a supplier were to sell at a lower price then the supplier has to refund the difference.

Microsoft Office is a great revenue stream for the company, and it wants to protect the overwhelming market share of Office and the income that it provides from volume licenses.

Student and Teacher Edition lets Microsoft effectively sell Office to retail users at a lower price while, with a straight face, purporting that Office retails to the general public for $250 more when dealing with their larger volume customers.

While that's legally true, the fact that Student and Teacher Edition is sold so widely and openly in general retail channels.   There's no real check of qualifications means in practice Office is being sold at a much lower price to the general public.


The Student and Teacher edition of Microsoft Office 2004 is:

- Not the academic edition.  That's a separate and more closely monitored license arrangements for educational institutions.  Usually only students can purchase academic license through approved vendors, generally connected to the college / university.  See

- Not different software.  The license to use is different but the software you run is exactly the same as other bundles of Office.

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