We set up Microsoft Student with Encarta Premium 2007 from the enclosed DVD in about 20 minutes in our tests on a Windows XP system. During the application's installation, you're invited to join Microsoft's Customer Experience Improvement Program, which monitors your use of the product.
You pay a price for convenience with Student. The time-saving presentation, chart, and graph templates in Student rely upon Excel and PowerPoint, not included with Student. If you don't already have Microsoft Office, then the $149 for Office Student and Teacher Edition 2003, or a more recent version, will substantially increase Student's $69.95 price tag (not counting the $20 mail-in rebate).
The interface of Student 2007 is friendly, clean and easy to use--important for the audience of sixth to twelfth graders grappling with complicated school projects. Borrowing from Encarta, Student has three large buttons to navigate to and from the home page: Homework, with math and foreign language help tools; Projects, with tips and templates for common school projects; and the catch-all Discover and Learn category, with links to Encarta, college-preparatory materials, games, and other miscellany. There are four intuitive pull-down menus, and a Homework Tools button links you to help with math, geography, foreign languages, literary subjects, and other topics.
The biggest changes within Student 2007 are its enhanced math tools, which assist students with concepts from prealgebra to calculus. Enter a math problem in the new Step-by-Step Solutions screen, and Student 2007 will solve the problem and, more importantly, show you the steps it takes to do so. The improved graphing calculator lets you animate and rotate 3D graphs to understand a concept better. Other Math Tools functions help you understand equations from physics, chemistry, and math classes. Math Tools also links to online solutions to problems in common textbooks, such as Hotmath.