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Microsoft Slashes Prices For Home Versions Of Office 2008 For Mac

Put away your varsity jackets and cheerleader outfits -- you don't have to lie about being a student anymore to get access to Microsoft Office for the Mac for the lowest price. With Office 2008 for Mac, being introduced Tuesday, Microsoft is replacing the student and teacher edition of Office, priced at $149, with a home and student edition, priced at $149.95.
Put away your varsity jackets and cheerleader outfits -- you don't have to lie about being a student anymore to get access to Microsoft Office for the Mac for the lowest price. With Office 2008 for Mac, being introduced Tuesday, Microsoft is replacing the student and teacher edition of Office, priced at $149, with a home and student edition, priced at $149.95.Until now, the lowest-priced edition of Office for Mac for people who are not students or teachers was the standard edition, priced at $399, or $249 if upgrading from a previous version. However, if you wanted to get the student and teacher version, and were willing to lie just a teensy bit, it wasn't hard to get your hands on it -- Microsoft had no requirement to authenticate your status as a student or teacher, and many software salespeople were willing to take you at your word if you muttered something about taking a class.

(After all, aren't we all students in life? Philosophers tell us that even the oldest and wisest can learn from the laughter of a small child.)

I met with Microsoft marketing manager Amanda Lefebvre at Macworld in San Francisco Monday, and asked if Microsoft made the price cuts based on competitive pressure. She gave the politically correct answer: They did it to bring Office for Mac pricing in line with price changes made for Office 2007 for Windows last year.

Still, I suspect competitive pressure may have had something to do with the decision. Mac users face many more options in office suites now than they did in 2004, when the current version of Office for Mac shipped. Mac users can turn to Apple's own iWork suite, priced at $79, the free, open source NeoOffice, which is based on OpenOffice.org, or the free, Web-based Google Docs, Zoho, and ThinkFree.

But I think Microsoft made the change mainly to accept reality. So many people lied about being students and teachers to get their hands on the lower-priced Office, Microsoft probably just wanted to make honest people out of them. Not to mention putting an end to penalizing people who were honest enough to avoid lying when they was almost no possibility of their getting caught.

The student and teacher version of Office has all the apps in the standard edition -- Entourage, Word, PowerPoint, and Exchange -- but is lacking the standard edition's ability to connect to Exchange Server. Another version of Office for Mac, the media edition, is a full version of Office with the addition of Expression, an application for managing multiple media types.

Office 2008 for Mac requires a relatively recent machine: An Intel Mac, or PowerPC running a G4 or G5 processor. It requires Mac OS X 10.4.9 Tiger or 10.5 Leopard. That lets out a significant number of Mac users running OS X 10.3 and earlier -- but those guys probably weren't going to upgrade to the latest version of Office anyway, if they aren't willing to pony up for the latest OS upgrade.

I don't know how much impact the pricing change for Office will have. I like to think a lot. I was never comfortable just walking up to a salesman (or logging in online) and lying about being a student or teacher. To quote Robert A. Heinlein: "I myself am only middlin' honest" -- but I like to think my price is higher than the $150 difference between the student-and-teacher and standard editions of Microsoft Office 2004 for the Mac.

For more on the latest Office for Mac, see our in-depth review, due to go live on this site on Tuesday. Also, see our Macworld curtain-raiser (scroll down to the bold-faced breakhead, "Microsoft To Debut Office 2008").