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Microsoft's Student 2007

Word Count:

The previous versions of Encarta in
cluded a host of homework tools. La
st year, these have been made into
a separate product called Microsoft
 Student. It has now been gainfully
 repackaged and very much enhanced.


Article Body:
The previous versions of Encarta in
cluded a host of homework tools. La
st year, these have been made into
a separate product called Microsoft
 Student. It has now been gainfully
 repackaged and very much enhanced.
 Among the new or revamped features
: free online access to MSN Encarta
 Premium, Step-by-Step Math Solutio
ns calculator, Step-by-Step Math Te
xtbook Solutions, Triangle Solver,
Equations Library, tutorials, and f
oreign language help. MS Student co
mes replete with the entire Encarta
 Premium encyclopedia!

Homework assignments are the bane o
f most students I know (not to ment
ion their hard-pressed and nescient
 parents). This is mainly because o
f the tedious and mind-numbing chor
es of data mining and composition.
Additionally, as knowledge multipli
es every 5-10 years, few parents an
d teachers are able to keep up.

Enter Microsoft Student 2007 - a pr
oductivity suite which, as we menti
oned, includes the Encarta Encyclop
edia, English and foreign language
dictionaries, thesaurus, quotations
 library, assignment templates, tut
orials, graphing calculator softwar
e and a Web Companion.

Similar to the Encarta, MS Student'
s Web Companion obtains search resu
lts from all the major search engin
es without launching any additional
 applications (like a browser). Con
tent from both the Encyclopedia and
 the Web is presented side by side.
 This   augmentation explicitly adopt
s the   Internet and incorporates it
as an   important source of reference
 - as   80% of students have already

I am not sure how Microsoft solved
the weighty and interesting issues
of intellectual property that the W
eb Companion raises, though. Copyri
ght-holders of Web content may feel
 that they have the right to be com
pensated by Microsoft for the use i
t makes of their wares in its comme
rcial products.

MS Student would do well to also in
tegrate with new desktop search too
ls from Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, a
nd others. Students will benefit fr
om seamless access to content from
all over - their desktop, their enc
yclopedias, and the Web - using a s
ingle, intuitive interface.

MS Student's templates are actually
 clever adaptations of the popular
Office suite of products - Word, Ex
cel, and PowerPoint. They help the
student produce homework plans and
schedules, projects, book reports,
presentations, research reports, ch
arts, and analyses of problems in m
ath, physics, and chemistry. Detail
ed step-by-step tutorials, Quick St
arters, and pop-up toolbars (menus)
 guide the student along the way in
 a friendly, non-intrusive manner.

The graphing calculator is a wonder
. It has both 2-D and 3-D capabilit
ies and makes use of the full scree
n. Aided by an extensive Equations
Library, it does everything except
cook: trigonometry, calculus, math,
 charting, geometry, physics, and
chemistry. And everything in full c

For the student keen on the liberal
 arts and the humanities, Student 2
007 provides detailed Book Summarie
s of almost 1000 classic works. Bes
ides plot synopses, the student get
s acquainted with the author's life
, themes and characters in the tome
s, and ideas for book reports.

MS Student 2007 is a great contribu
tion to learning. Inevitably, it ha
s a few flaws and glitches.
Start with the price. As productivi
ty suites go, it is reasonably pric
ed had its target population been a
dult professional users. But, at $7
0-100, it is beyond the reach of mo
st poor students and parents - its
most immediate market niches.

MS Student 2007 makes use of Micros
oft's .Net technology. As most home
 computers lack it, the installer i
nsists on adding it to the anyhow b
loated Windows Operating System. Th
ere is worse to come: the .Net vers
ion installed by MS Student 2007 is
 plagued with security holes and vu
lnerabilities. Users have to downlo
ad service packs and patches from W
indows Update if they do not wish t
o run the risk of having their comp
uters compromised by hackers.

Fully installed on the hard disk, M
S Student 2007 gobbles up less than
 its predecessors but still a whopp
ing 4 Gb. That's a lot - even in an
 age of ever cheaper storage. Most
homesteads still sport PCs with 20-
40 Gb hard disks. This makes MS Stu
dent less suitable for installation
 on older PCs and on many laptops.
Finally, there is the question of p
ersonal creativity and originality.
 Luckily, MS Student does not spoon
-feed its users. It does not substi
tute for thinking or for study. On
the contrary, by providing structur
ed stimuli, it encourages the stude
nt to express his or her ideas. It
does not do the homework assignment
s for the student - it merely helps
 rid them of time-consuming and mac
hine-like functions. And it opens u
p to both student and family the wo
nderful twin universes of knowledge
: the Encarta and the Web.

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