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UK schools warned off Microsoft

Stop signing subscription licensing deals.

Article comments

Schools in the UK are being are being urged to stop signing licensing deals with Microsoft by a government watchdog.

According to the British Educational and Technological Agency (Becta), schools should not sign software licensing deals with Microsoft because of Redmond’s alleged anti-competitive practices.

Earlier this month Becta referred Microsoft to the Office of Fair Trading for its alleged anti-competitive practices in the schools software marketplace and in relation to Microsoft’s approach to document interoperability.

According to the BBC, it says that talks have not resolved its “fundamental concerns” about the academic licensing of its Windows Office 2007 and Vista operating systems. Becta believes that new licensing arrangements are too restrictive, and is concerned over potential inoperability problems with existing software.

Thousands of schools in the UK already use Microsoft software, and Becta’s principle concerns centre around the limitations Microsoft places on schools using its subscription licensing arrangements.

Microsoft’s School Agreement subscription licensing model insists that schools pay for a licence for every PC on the premises which might use its software, regardless of whether or not they were running something else.

Becta’s advice to schools considering moving to Microsoft’s School Agreement subscription licensing model is that they should not do so.

It reminds schools they are legally obliged to have licensed software, but suggests they use instead what is known as “perpetual licensing.” This gives the permanent right to use the software and requires no ongoing payments beyond the purchase price.

The difficulty for schools is that using a subscription service such as Microsoft’s, often results in smaller, annual payments rather than a larger one-off cost.

In its complaint Becta also identifies potential difficulties for schools, pupils and parents who wish to use alternatives to Microsoft’s Office suite, such as Open Office or Star Office, because they may not be compatible.



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Graham said: I do not see what all the fuss is aboutIn the Workplace most companies opt for MS systems as an easy option If schools use other operating systems and other applications then when the pupils get to the real world they will be unfamilar with the product and possibley be rejected for the position because of the lack of MS knowledge We should not be concerned by MS cornering the market but the lack of other supplier being up to the standard of MS products and their ease of use

opembe said: the uk should realise that one can take the donkey down the river but cant force it to drink water They should know that IT is dynamic and next its them with their product to the rest of the world who will hesitate doing the same let them come up with skype mobile

Brian said: It is not true that schools must use Microsoft products to prepare students for a corporate world dominated by Redmonds software All GUI software is or should be intuitive by nature and what is important is the basic grasp of the principles behind it It matters not whether you are using Excel or Calc to make your spreadsheet - what matters is that you understand what a spreadsheet is for and how you can use it

Colin said: The use of Microsoft Products in schools is essential and the suggestion to go open source is self defeating Yes it can be argued that itll save money etc but the whole point of school is to prepare our kids for the work world where MS products are most often used MSs saturation in the business world means schools have a responsibility to make sure our kids are familiar with it

John Dooley said: I agree it sounds a good idea at first glance as I run a busy IT network in a school and paying out an easy agreement payment seems to be the least stressful I currently use the perpetual model provided by Staffordshire County who signed over a 1 million pound deal with Microsoft so its not just schools at fault here I am trying to move our school to Mac and Linux but find resistance in all corners of management and county I do not bash Microsoft though even if I am a LinuxMac user because they give us such great office products simple as I use OpenOffice on my Mac and Unix derivatives

Les said: There is no need for schools to be running Microsoft products the alternatives are there There problem is often inertia



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