Yesterday Microsoft announced the pricing for Office 2008, due out January 15th. The prices are as follows:
$150 gets you the Home and Student Package which at least gives you Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. It *may* come with Entourage but it will not allow you to connect to an Exchange server.
$400 gets you the Home and Student Package plus the ability to connect to an Exchange server in a SKU called Office 2008 Professional.
$500 gets you all of the above plus some fancy media organizing package no one knows jack shit about right now. My feeling is this will come in handy for people who make media-heavy presentations. Like Steve Jobs.
Naturally, this got the Internets going on Microsoft releasing too many confusing SKUs when one will do. I don’t see that in this case. The Home edition is for people who need more out of a suite than iWork provides. For roughly double the price you get about three times the features. Yes, yes, I know some of you are perfectly happy with Text Edit. $150 for a package that gives you close-enough-for-government-work-guaranteed compatibility with Office users is a good deal.
The $400 version is really a $250 tax on being a corporation and needing to connect to an Exchange server. I find this reasonable, especially since volume pricing drives the price down quite a bit anyway. What’s that, you say? The poor college kid that needs to connect to the campus Exchange server has to shell out all that extra cash? Um, no. You see the “real” student price for Office 2004 is actually less than the Apple Education price for iWork. Through my University I can get Office 2004 Student for $68, and the Pro version for $80. Assuming those prices are inline with the 2008 pricing, college students can get Office 2008 Professional for about $80.
While I’ve switched a lot of my general word usage to Pages, I’ll be getting this day one. I’ll be damn glad I can get the student price on it though. Do I *look* like I’m crazy enough to spend $400 just so I can connect to the Exchange server at work?