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  • FE blog

    The Ultimate Steal is back


    The moment you’ve been waiting for? Last year we ran a promotion called “The Ultimate Steal”, which offered a full copy of Office 2007 Ultimate Edition to students for £38.95. And, finally, it’s back!


    In a nutshell, The Ultimate Steal is:

    • A time-limited offer available to your college students as long as they have a .ac.uk email address (ends at the end of June next summer)
    • For Office Ultimate 2007, which can cost up to £500 to buy the retail version, as a digital download, with the option to buy a backup on DVD for £9.95
    • Also available to your college staff too, if they have a .ac.uk email address

    These days most students have a laptop or desktop computer, but they don’t always have the right software on it to help them with their studies. And our research said that they typically think that Office costs £100-£150 for a basic version. So instead of spending the money, many of them “borrow” a copy from a friend or parent.

    We’ve always made lower cost Academic licences available, but very few students know about them, or how to buy them. So that’s why we run The Ultimate Steal – it’s a way of helping students buy the right software, at the right price.

    Like last year, we're not going to spend lots of money advertising this - for one thing, it is only available to students with a .ac.uk email address, and so putting adverts all over the media isn't going to work. Most students found out about the offer from a friend, or from their college – many emailed their students to let them know about the offer, or put links up onto their intranets & VLEs

    Buying on http://www.theultimatesteal.co.uk is easy – register with your student/staff email address, and then login and go.

    Shortly, I’ll post up a standard email that you could use to let your students & staff know about the offer.

  • FE blog

    Ultimate Steal - Office 2007 offer Update


    We've made a few changes to the Ultimate Steal website (Office 2007 Ultimate for students, for £38.95), all of which are good news. Here's what we've done:

    Added the Backup DVD option to the ordering options
    To be honest, we have been trying to put this here ever since launch, but some technical glitches stopped us. It's now there, so students can order media at the same time as ordering the licence. This is handy if they don't want to use the download service, or they want a backup.

    Added email verification BEFORE entering the purchasing process

    We've been getting hundreds of students who have incorrectly entered their email address during the purchase process, which means they haven't received their licence key after purchase. It's tricky for us to resolve these individual problems quickly, and also inconvenient for students. So now, before you get to the online shop process, you have to provide your student email address (ending in .ac.uk) and then get an email confirmation and website login. This way, if you put in the incorrect email address, you won't get your website login - you'll have to go back and enter it again correctly.

    Even more reasons to tell your students about the Ultimate Steal

  • FE blog

    It's arrived - Office Ultimate 2007 for Students - for £38.95!



    We have been working on this for a while, and it has finally arrived. Yesterday we announced the availability of Microsoft Office Ultimate 2007 for UK Higher Education students, as a download, for £38.95.

    The headline summary is:

    It's a time-limited offer available to students with a .ac.uk email address as a digital download, containing the full Ultimate package.

    This also means that some colleges, who provide .ac.uk email addresses for their students, will also qualify! And, if you don't provide email addresses currently, drop Sarah Finch in our FE team a call (0118 909 4304) to talk about Windows Live @ Edu - a free, hosted email service for students.

    This is a pilot in a limited number of countries - UK, US, Canada, Spain, Italy and France - and it's good news that the UK is in the pilot. Most UK students think that Office costs £000's of pounds, and aren't very aware of the lower cost licences that have been available (for example, under the Select licence), so this makes it easier for them to buy a legitimate copy easily and cost-effectively.

    We're not going to spend lots of money advertising this - for one thing, it is only available to students with a .ac.uk email address, and so putting adverts all over the media isn't going to work. But we will be doing some on-campus promotions at some universities, using email to students, and many universities have already asked for posters and emails to send to their own students.

    If students in your college have .ac.uk email addresses, and you'd like to get some posters, flyers, or want to check what you can email to your students, drop a line to Sarah Finch in our FE team

    All of the details are on the offer's website: http://www.theultimatesteal.co.uk/?cid=edublog

    ps Have you got questions? Add them as a comment, and then I'll answer them here - hopefully everyone else will benefit from the answer too!

    pps You need to login to add a comment (to avoid comment-spam

  • FE blog

    Ultimate Steal Update - PayPal


    There are some new changes to the the Ultimate Steal website (Office 2007 Ultimate for students with an .ac.uk email address, for £38.95, only available online). One of the most significant is that we now accept PayPal (and since we switched that on, it appears to be a popular method).

    When students buy their new laptops, it appears they normally do it with Dad's credit card (in what one parent described to me as "the last big present" - they wish!). Once they're spending their own money, it appears that PayPal is more popular.

    Another reason to tell your students about the Ultimate Steal

  • FE blog

    DreamSpark - Free software for your students



    I guess this will be pretty big news on the Internet. And if I've timed this right - and you're reading this just after I've blogged it - then you're one of the first to find out.


    We have launched a programme called "Microsoft DreamSpark", which allows university and college students to download a range of free development and design software resources to help them in their studies. The suites available include Visual Studio (described as "the Swiss Army knife of computer programming"), which is the kind of toolset which can help you programme everything from a computer, to a mobile phone, or a web page. It also includes the major applications in the Expression design suite - including Expression Web, Expression Blend, Expression Design & Expression Media. And for development work, there's also SQL Server & Windows Server.

    From today, these are available to more than 6.5 million FE & HE students. Last year's survey co-sponsored with Intellect, the British Computer Society, and The City University, London demonstrated that the "Knowledge Economy" (is that a Microsoft-ism?) is the fastest growing part of the UK economy, and there's a real need to ensure that students have the chance to get the technical skills they may need to operate within it.

    Whilst it's easy to think that this will only be of interest to technical students, there's plenty of other areas affected - things like design, where digital design is one of the fastest growing areas; and the ability to manipulate and analyse masses of data seems to spread across most subjects.

    Students don't need to get additional validation or accreditation from their university or college to do this download - they can download as long as they have an Athens ID (that's pretty standard for all university students and most college students) or an ISIC card.  (For more on student verification, take a look at Ed's blog)

    There's more about this on Channel 8, and you can also read the press releases on PressPass

    At the moment, this is available in 10 countries, including the UK.

  • FE blog

    SharePoint 2007 - want to really know what it can do for you?


    My colleague, Phil Allen, who's our resident educational-techie, has provided me with a document of links to really good SharePoint resources. Bless him, he wants to help you all find good stuff, but 7 pages of document, with each page containing long link lists! Phew, I think it might take a while working through that.

    Here's the full list, - feel free to take a look

  • FE blog

    Collaboration - do we need fresh ideas?


    MicroSpeak1At today's College Principals' Meeting, I came across a new word "ideation" - which a colleague used on one of his slides. I'm not sure if it's a 'real' world, or one that sounded good when it went on a slide. It reminded me of my first few months when I joined Microsoft - there were all kinds of acronyms and new words that I had never come across before.

    Some it makes perfect sense - when you're trying to describe a complex international business like Microsoft, in a fast moving market like IT, then it is inevitable that you'll end up using acronyms quite a bit, if only to shorten sentences and save breath. But take it one step further - put Microsoft, IT, international AND education into the mix, and you've got a world where whole conversations can be made up entirely of acronyms. And become completely unintelligible to anybody walking past the door of the room!

    Which inspired me to another cartoon - perhaps the first of many, many, many that I could do on the same thing.

    Anyway, enough about the language barrier.

    How did "ideation" get into a discussion?

    IdeationIt came up on this slide - which was in the middle of a discussion about how collaboration takes place, and where ICT supports it. Nick Umney's story was about the fact that 'knowledge workers' (there's another one of those Micro-Speak phrases) tend to spend all of their time in the upper quadrants - living in the world of ideas, discussions and acquiring information. And IT people spend their lives the lower quadrants - the processes of documenting and publishing, and the process of driving processes.

    Which led to the point that sometimes it is difficult for the IT people to see eye to eye with some of the others within a college, because they tend to be trying to pin down the detail, whereas others may want to be more 'creative' with their thinking

    Imagine the downhill spiral the user specification meeting would take if an IT project team had been asked to create a Wiki:

    IT Team: "What do you want it to do?"

    User: "Publish information to people"

    IT Team: "What information do you want to publish and to whom?"

    User: "Anything, to anybody"

    That's the kind of challenge we're facing today with some of the collaborative technologies available. They could allow all kinds of flexible collaboration, and the boundaries aren't well defined, in fact in many cases we're only scratching the surface of what they can do. Which makes it difficult to get users engaged within the college to use them across the organisation - because each person or team may want to use them in different ways.

    What we need are some good role models - some excellent practice which can be held up for others to share, across or between institutions.

  • FE blog

    Ultimate Steal - good news for staff


    With only three weeks to go, I can imagine this blog post could create some howls...but better late than never.

    We have just managed to convince all the powers-that-be that staff should also qualify for the Ultimate Steal. Until today, if members of staff in your college wanted a copy of Office, they could either buy the "Home & Student" version in a shop/online (at about £80-90), or use Home User Rights (if you allowed them, and you'd both agreed to the terms), or various other convoluted routes. But now we've managed to get the lawyers and licensing teams to agree to include staff into the Ultimate Steal offer.

    What does this mean?

    Staff can now purchase, for their own use at home, a copy of Office 2007 Ultimate Edition, for £38.95, via www.theultimatesteal.co.uk

    What's the qualifying criteria?

    The lawyers insisted there should be some qualifying criteria (after all, they argued, what happens if somebody is employed as a tea lady - do they qualify?) and so we created some with them. Hopefully it is easy for all of your staff to qualify - including the tea lady. There are just two simple criteria:

    1. Staff must hold a valid email address at a UK, Jersey, Guernsey or Isle of Man educational institution, ending in either ‘.ac.uk’, ‘ac.im’, ‘ac.gg’ or ‘ac.je’.


    2. You must be employed at an education institution geographically located in the United Kingdom, Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man, for at least an average of 8 hours per week or 4 teaching hours per week

    Do we have to do anything?

    Nothing other than letting your staff know they've got 3 weeks (and counting) to take advantage of the offer. If you want an email template, take a look at this post

  • FE blog

    Microsoft Press ebook: Programming Windows 8 Apps (free eBook)


    Great eBook about writing Windows 8 style apps for Windows 8 using HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript.

    You can download the Second Preview (PDF only) here (13.5 MB).

    And you can download the Second Preview’s companion content here (64.9 MB).

    The full original version of the eBook can be viewed below.

  • FE blog

    Start of a new week: OneNote App's and More!


    Happy Monday Folks! Hope you all had a great weekend!

    Just a quick post to kick-start the week. For those of you using an iPhone, OneNote is now available for IOS. Much like OneNote within the full Office Hub on Windows Phone, the IOS version allows you to create text, voice and picture based notes from your mobile device that can then be easily synced to your PC and the cloud via SkyDrive. You now have full access to your OneNote content whether you are at your desk, out and about on your phone or securely via the web.

    OneNote, both on my PC and mobile device, is definitely one of my 'must have' applications!


    The OneNote application is currently free within the iTunes App Store and is well worth checking out.

    Volume Licensing

    On a slightly different note, we thought we would take this opportunity to briefly share some license changes that may affect you shortly. Building on the blog post written by Ray Fleming a few years ago on the subject of getting the best deal on software within education, when Vista goes end of sales on October 22nd there will some changes to the way that you upgrade via your Volume Licence (VL).

    From the 22nd October, if you are keen to utilise your VL to upgrade you will need to purchase a Windows 7 Home Premium SKU pre-installed from your OEM before doing so, rather than using Vista Home Basic as the qualifying base license.

    Alternatively, if your institution does not have a VL in place, you would need to purchase your required version of Windows, such as Windows 7 Professional, pre-installed from the OEM at point of purchase.

    More information about volume licensing can also be found on our website where you will find a wealth of information that you might find relevant to the use of products licensed through Microsoft Volume Licensing programs.

    Have a great week and let us know what you think of the new OneNote app!

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