This companion to Microsoft Office is designed to help school kids research and write up coursework with the maximum efficiency. Put together in concert with the national curriculum, it covers topics for both primary and secondary schools.

It provides guidance about how to study effectively, what's expected for any assignment you might be set, plus resources such as an encyclopedia and an onscreen graphing calculator.

You can use the latter to work out everything from simultaneous equations and statistical probability to the relationships between properties for physics and chemistry experiments. And, as with the rest of this package, you get useful context-sensitive help.

Fire up Learning Essentials for Students to access templates and tips. Select one and you'll be taken to a special version of Word (or Excel or PowerPoint) with all the accessories you'll need. To change the sort of assistance required you select from the Student Tools drop-down menu.
Student 2006 harnesses the web, directing pupils to data. In the main this draws on the MSN Encarta encyclopedia but external information sources have also been used.

You need to have Office XP or 2003, as well as a DVD drive. You can then install either the standard reference content or add Children's Encarta. And there's a browser toolbar that finds content from Encarta online. Purchasing Student 2006 gives you updates and access to Encarta until late 2006.

Student 2006: Specs

  • 500MHz Pentium III
  • Windows 2000 SP4/XP
  • Microsoft Office XP or Office 2003
  • 260MB hard disk space
  • DVD-ROM drive
  • internet connection to use online Encarta resources
  • 500MHz Pentium III
  • Windows 2000 SP4/XP
  • Microsoft Office XP or Office 2003
  • 260MB hard disk space
  • DVD-ROM drive
  • internet connection to use online Encarta resources

OUR VERDICT

Undoubtedly useful, Microsoft Student 2006 is optimised for use with the latest iteration of Office. Because of this, many families otherwise happy with the version of that suite they've already got will miss out or need to upgrade. But if you're buying a PC so your kids can use it for school work, you'll get a lot out of this package. There's a wealth of information and useful pointers to the Encarta encyclopedia it draws on. The licence allows you to use it on up to three PCs.

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