Before I start this news story I have to get a gripe out of the way. Why is this software called Microsoft Student when it has nothing to do with university? It is for 11-18 year olds, so it should be called Microsoft School, Microsoft Pupil or some such thing. Lunacy.
Anyway, misleading title aside, this is a rather nice software bundle designed to help PUPILS with their studies. Can’t the parents help, I hear you ask? No, according to a survey commissioned by Evil Lord Redmond (always consider the source – imagine the headline: “Microsoft Commissions Survey That Says Its Product Is Completely Unnecessary” !?!) they’re mostly useless.
Going off its figures, 44 per cent of quizzed baby making teams said homework is to blame as a source of tension and family disputes and while 98 per cent say their children spend time surfing the web looking for help with their homework (are we sure that is what they are looking for?!), 65 per cent subsequently report the Apples of their Eye don’t find what they are looking for (oh yes they do!).
Anyhoo, the other biggie not mentioned is that we grown ups rejoice in forgetting topics like trigonometry, the French Revolution and the formation of Oxbow lakes. Which is great for about 15 years, until our little monsters come home one night and quiz us about it.
With this in mind we have Microsoft Student (!?!) 2006: a subject specific piece of productivity software designed to get secondary PUPILS through their studies before they are strangled Homer Simpson style by their overworked, underpaid, highly stressed mums and dads.
Written on a country by country basis (so our copies of Student *Grrr* 2006 will be UK curriculum centred), the suite comes with toolbars, templates and tutorials to help with a variety of subjects and assignments from history reports and English papers to physics projects and foreign languages. Naturally enough, these are all integrated into Microsoft Office Word, Excel and PowerPoint (which you’ll need to own already).
In addition, there are a few handy tools such as a scientific calculator which is a step up from the one supplied in Windows (Start Bar / All Programs / Accessories) as it explains what is what and has built in 3D graphics capabilities to help illustrate lessons.
Building on this is a Web Companion which streamlines research content from the Net to provide pupils with quick assess to trusted information (which - I repeat - is not what they were surfing for before, the little darlings), and a darn handy selection of book summaries for English courses with notes on themes and background facts. You’ll get online access to Microsoft Encarta and its 70,000+ encyclopaedia articles too (though you might as well use Wikipedia here since it is nearly 10x the size and free).
Microsoft Student (*Tut* Still rankles) 2006 will be available from 8 August, just in time for the new school year. It will retail for £54.95, which I would suggest to parents globally is a small price in exchange for your own sanity.