If you’re sending a student off to college with a new laptop, Microsoft has a pretty good deal. A student with an email address at an educational institution (typically the email addresses end in .EDU) can buy a copy of Microsoft Office Ultimate 2007 for $59.95 through this web site.
This suite includes far more software than the Home & Student Edition in the stores for $100-140. This is the suite with all the Office programs, including Outlook, Powerpoint, Publisher, OneNote, Access, and more. Most students will only use Word and Powerpoint, of course, but it’s still a great price.
There’s also an upgrade to Vista Ultimate for $64.95, much cheaper than the normal upgrade price. Most student laptops come with Vista Home edition, with all the multimedia programs; upgrading to Ultimate adds shadow copies for some extra protection, an improved backup program that a student would never use, and mildly amusing eye candy in the form of animated desktops. (Here’s a comparison of the Vista versions.) The discounted price is nice but the upgrade is anything but essential.