Schools warned away from Microsoft

Written by Joe Martin

October 29, 2007 | 11:33

Tags: #blair #brown #school #student

Companies: #government #uk

UK Schools are being warned not to sign licensing agreements with Microsoft by Becta, the government's computer agency, because of alleged anti-competitive practices.

According to the BBC, complaints have been lodged against Microsoft with the Office of Fair Trading.

Becta accuses Microsoft of refusing to resolve some fundamental concerns about how software is licensed to schools, especially regarding Windows Vista and Office 2007. Microsoft insists that it is trying to offer the best software at the best possible price, but Becta is worried about the subscription model of payment which Microsoft is demanding.

Becta has officially advised all UK schools to only sign agreements with Microsoft if it involves a one-off payment which gives permanent rights to use the software.

Becta has also voiced concern about the requirement that schools must have licenses for every PC which might be running Microsoft software, whether or not the software is actually in use or not. Because of this, Becta is advising schools which have already signed on with Microsoft to consider leaving the scheme as soon as possible and only to use Office 2007 when it has established good interoperability with other software.

Becta reckons that if schools switched to open source software then they'd be able to shave between 20 to 50 percent off the costs of ICT departments.

"Becta is determined to get the best deal it can for schools and indeed for the wider educational system, and to make it as cost-effective and convenient as possible for educational customers to acquire the ICT products and services they choose," the agency said in a statement.

What software did your school use and what was the first software you learnt to use? Let us know in the forums.
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