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Microsoft Student 2006

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The previous versions of Encarta in
cluded a host of homework tools. Th
ese have now been made into a separ
ate product called Microsoft Studen

Article Body:
The previous versions of Encarta in
cluded a host of homework tools. Th
ese have now been made into a separ
ate product called Microsoft Studen

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 2006 - a pr
oductivity suite which includes the
 Encarta Encyclopedia, assignment t
emplates, tutorials, graphing calcu
lator software 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 (th
e full Encarta encyclopedia is buil
t into MS Student) and the Web is p
resented side by side. This augment
ation explicitly adopts the Interne
t and incorporates it as an importa
nt source of reference - as 80% of
students have already done.

This may raise important and intere
sting issues of intellectual proper
ty, though. Web content copyright-h
olders may demand royalties from Mi
crosoft for the use it makes of the
ir wares in its commercial 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

And if this is not enough, the luck
y owner is entitled to one year of
Online Math Homework Help: step by
step instructions and hints for sol
ving math problems (including algeb
ra and geometry). The program addre
sses most math textbooks and more a
re added all the time.

For the student keen on the liberal
 arts and the humanities, Student 2
006 provides detailed Book Summarie
s of dozens of classic works. Besid
es plot synopses, the student gets
acquainted with the author's life,
themes and characters in the tomes,
 and ideas for book reports. This i
s buttressed by a Book of Quotation
s and the entire corpus of the Enca
rta Encyclopedia, dictionary, and t

This is the first release of a grea
t contribution to learning. Inevita
bly, it has a few flaws and glitche

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 $1
00, it is beyond the reach of most
poor students and parents - its mos
t immediate market niches.

Installation is not easy. MS Studen
t 2006 makes use of Microsoft's .Ne
t technology. As most home computer
s lack it, the installer insists on
 adding it to the anyhow bloated Wi
ndows Operating System. There is wo
rse to come: the .Net version insta
lled by Encarta 2006 is plagued wit
h security holes and vulnerabilitie
s. Users have to download service p
acks and patches from Windows Updat
e if they do not wish to run the ri
sk of having their computers compro
mised by hackers.

Fully installed, Microsoft Student
2006 gobbles up more than 4 Gb. Tha
t's a lot - even in an age of ever
cheaper storage. Most homesteads st
ill sport PCs with 20-40 Gb hard di
sks. This makes the Encarta less su
itable for installation on older PC
s and on many laptops. Despite the
hype, relatively few users possess
DVD drives (but those who do, find
the entire encyclopedia available o
n one DVD).

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.

Monika Kamal Monika Kamal Jesus
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