Microsoft has always had “student editions” of the Office suite – same software, lower price, for full-time students and educators. In the past it’s only been available in settings where there was some small amount of control over the purchasers – campus bookstores, for example, where a student ID has to be shown at the cash register.
For some reason, Microsoft has now flooded the regular retail channels with student editions of Office XP standard – the full suite, including Word, Excel, Outlook, and Powerpoint. If you can find it at Costco (look for a little card, instead of the big empty boxes), it’s $129; at Best Buy, Staples, WalMart, and a few others it will be $149. That’s still a heck of a discount from the usual upgrade price of $200-$250.
Here’s an article that speculates on why these are so widely available. Remember, if you buy this and you are not a full-time student or educator, you are not getting a license that you can defend if anybody asks. But you’d get a working copy of the programs, and you might decide that no one is likely to check up on you. In which case, this is quite a bargain on a pretty appealing suite of programs.