Found this interesting article over at The Register:
When Microsoft launched Windows XP it also switched the way it sold software to students. Previously, if you bought software at savage discounts under the Student and Teacher License you had to provide some proof that you qualified, and then Microsoft would send you the software. This process has now been "simplified and improved" - you don't buy an empty box and send a note from your headmaster to Microsoft any more, you just buy the full working product, and install it.
So how does Microsoft check that you really are a student? The Register's mystery shopper went undercover to find out, but came up empty - as far as we can see, there's nothing to stop anybody in the UK buying the educational discount software, even if they're not qualified for the licence. That means you'd pay as little as Â£37.35 for an upgrade edition of XP Pro, compared with Â£132.49 at the same store for the same product, but with the normal licence.
We checked six or so major vendor sites in the UK. All of these sold education licence software, although it generally doesn't jump out of the home page at you. Prior to the launch of XP the qualification check was carried out by Microsoft - you'd buy an empty box, and send off the coupon inside together with proof that you qualified, so the stores themselves didn't have to decide whether to sell you the stuff or not. Now, however, the deal goes like this:
"NEW - Microsoft Student and Teacher Licence" Simply go to your preferred software retail outlet, online vendor or reseller and purchase the Microsoft Office Standard for Students & Teachers box. All the CDs and manuals are inside the box. Simply open the box, install the software, get your Product Activation Key via the web or phone, finish the installation and then you can use the product. There will be more enhancements to this programme in January 2002."
Methinks that this apparent loophole will be plugged in Jan.
News source: Read more over at The Reg