Microsoft has updated its Ultimate Steal page and swapped the former Office 2007 Ultimate and Vista Ultimate package for Office Professional Academic 2010 and Windows 7 Professional.
The home page, which can be found here, offers the application suite for as little as £49.99 while the operating system goes on sale for £30. In both cases, P&P is excluded.
The offer is only valid for those in academia and is restricted to those who own an ac.uk email address to which Microsoft will send the serial codes after the purchase is carried out.
Interestingly, apart from the license conditions, there's nothing to distinguish both packages from their business equivalents. The Windows 7 Professional for students is just as powerful as the normal version while Office Professional Academic 2010 still come with Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook, Onenote, Publisher and Access.
Microsoft has also confirmed that the Ultimate Steal deal will last until the 6th of September 2010 at which time we're told prices will revert to standard price. In the case of Windows 7, students will be able to upgrade their PC from any licenced version of Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 (like starter or home premium).
However, Microsoft is not the cheapest in town as RM's The Basement undercuts Microsoft's offer with a Professional Plus edition which includes InfoPath, Communicator and SharePoint Workspace and costs even less at £39.07, a price that includes VAT and delivery.
It is also worth checking the likes of Software4Students, Pugh or Phoenix software which are all accredited parts of Microsoft Education and should in theory undercut the software giant's own online store. Furthermore, the four companies often have regular time-limited promotions although at least one has yet to update its offerings.
There is a longer than usual dispatch period (up to four weeks) and in either case, you will be shipped a CD in a sleeve via snail mail with the product key on the back. But you should also be able to download the application direct as well if necessary. As for all Microsoft educational product, you won't be able to buy more than two copies of any particular application.
Ultimate Steal deal is one of the more popular offers from Microsoft and runs concurrently with its Microsoft Office 2010 Home and Student edition.
The latter is less powerful than its Professional Plus version but offers you the ability to run on up to three computers by three different users (in the same household) and doesn't come with any restrictions (apart from the fact that it cannot be used for business purposes).
However, with a current price tag of £84.50, it might better to buy the Office 2007 version, upgrade to the new version and save £13 altogether (ed : alternatively, if you buy items selected items worth £39.99 from Amazon, you can get the same office suite for only £59.99 by entering the code OFFICED6 at the check out. In other words, buy something worth more than £28 and you're quids in).
In comparison, those using software purchased under the academic license scheme can only install the application on two computers to be used by the same user (e.g. a laptop and a desktop).