As of March 31, roughly 200 to 500 Harvard students have been forced to decide whether to spend a lot of time or a lot of money to gain access to Microsoft programs.
Because of a revised Microsoft policy, students can no longer access Microsoft programs, including Word and Excel, in their rooms through the Harvard network.
Instead, students who had used the programs through the network must either buy expensive software or find alternate methods of obtaining the programs.
Microsoft's new plan, Campus Agreement 2.0, revises previous licensing rules in which universities paid for software based on how many computers would be using the program at once.
Under the old plan, once universities had the programs, an unlimited number of students and faculty could access the programs from their personal computers through the network.
The new plan forces universities to pay an annual rate based on the number of student and faculty users.
Director of Computer Services in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Franklin M. Steen estimated that between 200 and 500 students--the number of students that had accessed the Microsoft programs through their own computers--were affected by the change.
Under the new plan, which raises the cost of the program by $2, students are allowed to keep the Microsoft programs on their computers after they leave the university. The $2 charge brings the total fee to about $20 per student annually, according to an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education's on-line edition.
But instead of paying the annual fee, Harvard is transferring the financial burden to students.
Students must buy Microsoft Office 97 programs to access the software, or purchase other programs such as Word-Perfect or Claris Works.
The Technology Product Center (TPC) sells the standard Office 97 suite for $159 and the professional suite, which includes the Access database program, for $199, said TPC Supervisor Steve A. Gabel.
Some students have opted to not purchase the software.
"Well, I couldn't afford it because it's almost $200 for Office 97," said Adam M. Ross '00. Instead, Ross converted files to Office 95, the older version of the program that came with his computer, which he called a "tedious and time consuming task."
Ross said, for example, if he needed his resume from last spring he would have to access it from a computer lab, because he did not convert it to Office 95 before March 31.
Office 95 cannot read unconverted files from the newer program, and without access to Office 97, students cannot read their files from their personal computers.
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