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Windows Cheap Enough For $2B Aussie Laptop Deal

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the if-you-give-it-away dept.

Education 234

An anonymous reader writes "Windows-based netbooks aren't too expensive to be ruled out of the Aussie government's billion dollar promise to give a laptop to every school-aged child, according to several education departments. The admission follows an earlier report that open source machines based on Ubuntu or Mandriva are the only option to deliver up to four million computers to students for under $2 billion. Microsoft itself claimed it will keep costs per unit down by hosting a lot of the educational software in the cloud rather than on the netbook devices."

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Too bad there won't be a useful (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26097797)

internet connection for each of those school children.

Re:Too bad there won't be a useful (2, Insightful)

tchiseen (1315299) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098267)

If the students get OLPC's maybe they can use the ad-hoc wifi capabilities and make Australia's best internet :P

Re:Too bad there won't be a useful (4, Insightful)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098273)

well, since they're netbooks, not desktops, you'd need ubiquitous wireless access in order to match the functionality that would be provided with Ubuntu + OpenOffice. and considering that Australia's one of the few developed countries behind the U.S. in internet infrastructure, that seems very unlikely.

to get the full benefits of the hardware, you pretty much have to go with FOSS or spend a heck of a lot more money.

Re:Too bad there won't be a useful (5, Insightful)

unit8765 (1411141) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098629)

No useful internet because of internet filtering in Australia.

$500 a "netbook"? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26097807)

Must be some pretty damn good machines to pay $500 a unit on an order of 4 million units.

Re:$500 a "netbook"? (3, Interesting)

Facetious (710885) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098007)

No joke. I just picked up three Acer Aspire One netbooks (Linux edition) for $250 apiece at Newegg.

Re:$500 a "netbook"? (3, Insightful)

Akzo (1079039) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098121)

Things outide the US are generally more expensive, not including shipping/customs costs and currency differences.

Re:$500 a "netbook"? (4, Informative)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098299)

Things outide the US are generally more expensive, not including shipping/customs costs and currency differences.

For millions of units of something made in Taiwan, it shouldn't be terribly difficult to get a reasonable price on it in Australia. At that volume, you can rent your own ship. If you're the Australian government, you shouldn't be paying customs. Etc.

Re:$500 a "netbook"? (1, Informative)

Elektroschock (659467) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098457)

And when you use a more efficient Linux environment as LXDE the maschine gets faster and more eco-efficient. If teaching applications move the cloud as Microsoft pretends the client operating system does not matter.

Re:$500 a "netbook"? (3, Informative)

Eskarel (565631) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098989)

Unfortunately it doesn't work that way.

Yes, the stuff is made in Taiwan or somewhere else in South East Asia, and yes, that's closer to Australia, than it is to most of the US, but we still pay more for everything.

It's just the way things are. Just about everything is more expensive here.

Re:$500 a "netbook"? (1)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098425)

well, 500 AUD = 329.85 USD. which is also the list price for the Asus Eee PC in Australia [gizmodo.com.au] (for the Linux version, i'm assuming).

shipping/customs shouldn't be a issue since it's being ordered by the Australian government, and in such bulk that the per unit shipping cost would be negligible.

Re:$500 a "netbook"? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26099027)

well, 500 AUD = 329.85 USD. which is also the list price for the Asus Eee PC in Australia [gizmodo.com.au] (for the Linux version, i'm assuming).

shipping/customs shouldn't be a issue since it's being ordered by the Australian government, and in such bulk that the per unit shipping cost would be negligible.

The 701 model eee is advertised in the paper here in .au for $350 aud but I have seen it for 300 in a different store and I would expect to pay no more than 250 given that you can get better models now.

Re:$500 a "netbook"? (3, Informative)

Sabriel (134364) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098269)

Note that the article is about Australia; one Aussie dollar currently equals 66 US cents and after the various middlemen get their markup the value of a computer in AUD is often double its USD value.

(funny how every time the AUD approaches the USD, something happens to the stock market to bring it back down :p)

Re:$500 a "netbook"? (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098021)

When I went to school we even hade to pay for things like compass and protractor, and those things where actually useful for the studies to!

Re:$500 a "netbook"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26098961)

When I went to school we even hade(had) to pay for things like compass and protractor, and those things where(were) actually useful for the studies to!

Apparently you didn't need to invest in your own spelling books either.

Re:$500 a "netbook"? (5, Informative)

strider44 (650833) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098289)

This is in Australian dollars (approx. $330 USD) and includes a maintenance contract.

The Pusher (4, Insightful)

Forrest Kyle (955623) | more than 5 years ago | (#26097817)

Drugs are always affordable when the dealer is trying to get you hooked.

Re:The Pusher (0)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098735)

Drugs are always affordable when the dealer is trying to get you hooked. (Score:5, Insightful)

That metaphor applies to companies you like, too. It's like saying Microsoft's shit stinks or Microsoft's morning breath is bad.

Way to wisely use those mod points.

Get off your high horse, kid (2, Interesting)

westlake (615356) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098981)

Drugs are always affordable when the dealer is trying to get you hooked.

You only have to mouse over to Walmart.com to see Windows becoming very competitive with Linux in the netbook sector.

It's a familiar story.

The OEM Linux box enters the retail market with bottom-feeder specs.

It is never upgraded - even as the entry-level Windows PC approaches the same price point with hardware that was mid-line or better six months or so back.

Re:Get off your high horse, kid (2, Insightful)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 5 years ago | (#26099307)

It is never upgraded

Well when you're used to an OS that needs reformatting every six months to get it back to a usable speed, I can see why that might be an issue.

Educational applications in the cloud (5, Insightful)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 5 years ago | (#26097823)

Educational applications on a web server are nothing new. It's funny, though, that Windows would need them. I have one of these small-cheap-light laptops that cost $350 and is intended for use with Windows "only for web browsing and email". I put Debian on it. There's only one thing I have found that it can't do: build the Linux kernel quickly. It's kind of slow at that, but it works. OpenOffice is no problem, etc.

But with a cloud, you can tie all of those kids into a network that Microsoft will be able to monetize, propogandize, etc.

Bruce

Re:Educational applications in the cloud (5, Insightful)

Rene S. Hollan (1943) | more than 5 years ago | (#26097999)

Duh.

Besides, "code you have on the box beats code that might be available".

What's sad here isn't that Mr. Perens comment is, well, common sense, but rather that so many don't see it as so obvious.

Re:Educational applications in the cloud (1)

Yfrwlf (998822) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098331)

Well I don't think the suits that are usually running these IT circuses understand "lock-in" and simple concepts like that so for them it's new. They don't look at long term costs, in every way that term can be applied, they just look at the dollar figure presented, watch the shiny PR video that's shown to them, and then sign the deal. I think many out there in the IT industry have witnessed that. I wouldn't be surprised whatsoever that if they did reject the figure because Linux is free, M$ would probably also give it to them for free.

If they were to put Linux on though, they'd need to standardize on one "distro" until Linux can get it's act together and push some cross-distro software packaging standards, otherwise teachers would not be able to distribute software to them. Even if they did standardize on one distro, of course it's still a needed feature.

Re:Educational applications in the cloud (4, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098465)

You miss the point of this statement:

Microsoft itself claimed it will keep costs per unit down by hosting a lot of the educational software in the cloud rather than on the netbook devices."

It will keep the costs for the hardware down by hosting the applications elsewhere. Or, to put it another way, they will host education apps online for free (now) so that the required hardware specs are lower, allowing more of the total to be spent on (Microsoft) software used to access the (.NET, Windows-only) server side software (which may not remain free for long after the initial investment on Windows laptops has been made and you are locked in).

Re:Educational applications in the cloud (3, Insightful)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 5 years ago | (#26099243)

That's what "monetize" meant :-)

I don't think they're reducing the cost of the hardware, though. $350 USD pays for an Acer Aspire One with 1G RAM and 160G disk at retail. And you can probably get a much better price in a bulk purchase. I think they are budgeting AU $500 per unit. That leaves a lot of money for Microsoft even in the initial purchase.

Re:Educational applications in the cloud (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26098697)

I've been a sysadmin at a school in Europe, where I had the joy of working with educational software. It wasn't even written by MS, but didn't worked on anything except IE6.

Right now, I bet they'll be using silverlight and/or activeX for an *enhanced* experience, that will only run windows machines using internet explorer.

Re:Educational applications in the cloud (2, Funny)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 5 years ago | (#26099305)

But with a cloud, you can tie all of those kids into a network that Microsoft will be able to monetize, propogandize, etc.

Isn't that a bit "conspiracy theorist"? Why can't the explanation be something normal, like Microsoft making sure that every kid in Australia grows up believing that computer == Windows.

What a surprise (5, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26097827)

"We're thinking of using Linux" == "Hey Microsoft, we want a discount!"

Re:What a surprise (5, Informative)

grege1 (1065244) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098109)

I agree absolutely, and Microsoft will have to cave in because the thought of every school kid in the country using Linux and OpenOffice would give them nightmares. I would like to see the Education departments really use Linux laptops, but they do not have the guts to carry it through.

Re:What a surprise (4, Insightful)

Yfrwlf (998822) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098183)

If it came down to it, M$ would give it to them for free rather than see Linux being used of course. That's why it's up to intelligent employees to realize what the long term costs are, and what they are doing by "selling" the Windows platform to students, so free for them would still be an excellent deal for Microsoft in numerous ways.

Re:What a surprise (1)

tchiseen (1315299) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098301)

It's pretty blinking obvious Microsoft is getting desperate to limit the reach of Linux to the masses. They certainly don't want 4 million kids learning that Microsoft is irrelevant, and taking that knowledge with them into the work force in the future.

Re:What a surprise (4, Interesting)

Yfrwlf (998822) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098557)

Certainly, and that's why education is such a huge target for these corporations, they want teachers teaching students to use the most expensive pieces of software in the industry, which IMO should piss the parents and students off to no end. "Mom, you need to buy me Adobe Creative Suite 3, I need it for class, it's only $500." and "I just got hired on, and you aren't using Windows Vista yet? Your company should upgrade, I was trained on Vista." :P

Many average computer users haven't even heard of Linux even though they use it every day whether they know it or not. That is slowly changing, but M$ is sure doing everything they can to slow its spread. Thus, every little bit done to spread knowledge of it and improve it as a platform, helps.

Re:What a surprise (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098641)

"Mom, you need to buy me Adobe Creative Suite 3, I need it for class, it's only $500."

No, see, Adobe provides "student" editions which are cheaper. And by "cheaper" I mean they cost $100 instead of $500.. but that's still too expensive for the majority of parents with 2.5 kids.

Re:What a surprise (1)

Yfrwlf (998822) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098791)

Right, or basically like what's been said on here many times over, they're like crack dealers, it's the same business model. It's too bad stupid boards/directors/etc in school districts don't think "hmm, I wonder why they're making a student edition to begin with...hmmmmmm..." There's quite a bit of irony in asking for intelligent school directors and boards.

Re:What a surprise (0)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098983)

Not at all... The software costs $500 because it takes a long time and a lot of developers to make it. Yes there is free software that can replace some of the functions, but not at the same quality. For example, I'm an engineer, I do a lot of computational work. As a student I was able to get a $100 student copy of matlab. I tried out free software too mind you, but nothing out there compares(octave doesn't compare, nor does scilab). I would gladly pay over $2000 for a professional copy of matlab because it saves me a hell of a lot of time. Same thing for CAD software, find me something that has anywhere near the functionality of Unigraphics NX and that is free and I will switch to it immediately. They make student editions because that's the software that professionals use and they want students to learn the software.

Re:What a surprise (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26099009)

Oh do fuck off. The software costs $500 because people will pay $500. If people would pay $5000, they'd charge $5000. If people wouldn't pay $500, they'd charge $100.. which is why they offer that price to students, cause otherwise they won't buy it. It's called the market price and it has nothing to do with how much it costs to make it.

Re:What a surprise (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 5 years ago | (#26099095)

<i>I would gladly pay over $2000 for a professional copy of matlab because it saves me a hell of a lot of time.</i>

I know it's the market price, I doubt Adobe Creative Suite XX costs 10x more to develop than certain AAA video games out there. But that's beside the point. The point being that student versions are offered to learn off of. You also forget that a lot of companies provide student software for free or extremely cheap prices ($5-$20)(Yes many of them get paid indirectly through technology fees, but a lot don't), Autodesk Inventor and Maple being an example.

The parent was arguing that such companies are acting like drug dealers which is disingenuous...

Re:What a surprise (2, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26099167)

The parent was arguing that such companies are acting like drug dealers which is disingenuous...

Why? You have to make an argument. Everyone else can see that they are acting like drug dealers.. giving you your first "hit" for free. So what magical insight do you have that the rest of us are wrong?

My point was, as if anyone cares, that people see a "student edition" of a $500 product for $100 and go "wow, look how cheap that is!" when there are perfectly capable alternatives on the market for much less than even the student price. I actually hear people say with glee "wow, it's great that I can pay $100 now and $400 later when I've learned the product". You fucking what now? You're happy to pay the overpriced cost of the software because they gave you an installment plan? Oh, and BTW, "learning" how to use a piece of software is backasswards.. if you can't figure out how to use the software in the first 15 minutes of sitting in front of it then it is junk and you should raise your standards. But, to be fair, in some circles that's the best software available and the whole stinkin' industry needs to raise their standards at the same time, which will never happen organically.

Plus I felt like ranting.

Re:What a surprise (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 5 years ago | (#26099267)

I'll agree with you, you have a point with certain software. But not every piece of software is so straightforward. Matlab/Simulink for example while easy to pick up, is difficult to master, and I've taken my rounds with octave/scilab as I've said, but they have given me too many issues. UG NX also, or any solid modelling package, while the interface can be picked up in 15 minutes, actually doing useful work with it takes practice. Granted I'm referring to technical software here, more mainstream software like Adobe Creative Suite etc does have plenty of low cost or free alternatives that are equally as good. Heck I use almost all opensource/free software on my linux laptop except for a few apps.

Re:What a surprise (0, Flamebait)

rdnetto (955205) | more than 5 years ago | (#26099151)

Of course, from the government's point of view its actually cheaper to go the Microsoft route. Most people fail to recognize that because Linux is a minority OS, getting support for it is more difficult. There definitely won't be enough technicians to cover every school, so their wages will skyrocket. Better to go with what everyone knows and can support, right?

P.S. I am not against using Linux per-se, I am merely looking at it from an objective and financial POV.

Re:What a surprise (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 5 years ago | (#26099289)

Not for long. [slashdot.org]

Re:What a surprise (1)

Elektroschock (659467) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098481)

Indeed, this is why the governments need to invest more in open source. It does not matter if they use it, it is just a fantastic tool to get really cheap procurement contracts.

Not really the same. (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26097839)

This seems like apples and oranges... With Ubuntu (for example) they're storing their files locally, with Windows they're going to be stored on Microsoft's servers somewhere, it's not really a comparable solution.

Re:Not really the same. (1)

EvilIdler (21087) | more than 5 years ago | (#26099357)

Why would installing Ubuntu mean that they store files locally? Networked storage wasn't invented by Microsoft.

Oops! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26097841)

I can see a hosted version of Microsoft Office 2007.

The internet (or LAN) goes down, or there's some major power outage, and no-one can do their work or homework.

Re:Oops! (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098937)

Microsoft ate my homework.

Save money (5, Insightful)

lordharsha (1101875) | more than 5 years ago | (#26097843)

Wouldn't it be more efficient to ditch Windows and use the extra money to give laptops to more children?

Re:Save money (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 5 years ago | (#26097929)

absolutely!

Re:Save money (4, Funny)

insane_machine (952012) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098211)

Two Laptops Per Child Act (TLPC)

Re:Save money (3, Insightful)

Yfrwlf (998822) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098219)

Even if Windows was given to them for free, which it very well could be, Microsoft would still get a lot from it and the school district, parents, and students would still lose in various ways.

Re:Save money (3, Interesting)

Elektroschock (659467) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098541)

But negative prices are still possible! Microsoft should offer the netbooks with Windows away for free to schools. Otherwise the schools pay the lock-in costs and do product training and platform marketing for the monopolist for free. It is like paying for a galley seat and workout.

Re:Save money (2, Insightful)

Yfrwlf (998822) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098625)

Right, it's great advertising, etc etc, like you said, so M$ certainly could offer them money for agreeing to choose them over Linux. Just depends on how far M$ is willing to go and if they think it's worth it to do so.

Re:Save money (1)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098929)

The only people who "lose" in such a situation are the people who want the kids forced to use Linux instead of what they'd like. Personally, I don't really care what OS people use. If they want OS X, great. Windows, fine. Linux, sure.

Here's the big question, though: do you really think the people who would use these laptops would rather have Linux? Or do you think they'd rather have the Windows environment that they are used to? And if they'd rather have the latter, who the hell are you to try to shove Linux down their throats? You're no better than the Microsoft you insist that you hate, if you're doing that.

Let 'em use what they want, not what makes your nerd penis happy.

Re:Save money (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 5 years ago | (#26099207)

How do they lose? 90% of all desktops out there are running Windows. Face it, for ordinary desktop work, the world uses windows. Trust me, the people who want to use Linux will use Linux, but Linux isn't ready for the masses. Linux is for people who are willing to put the time into learning their system, and a majority of people could care less. Not everyone plans on becoming a developer/systems admin/insert computer related career here, however.

I've been using Linux since 1999, and the year of Linux on the Desktop has always been next year, and it still is.

Re:Save money (1)

rdnetto (955205) | more than 5 years ago | (#26099161)

No, cause then they'd spend the extra money (and then some) on find those elusive Linux technicians.

Re:Save money (1)

lordharsha (1101875) | more than 5 years ago | (#26099309)

Finding us isn't so hard.
1. Announce a marathon of Dr Who/ Firefly/ Star Anything
2. Hand out job offers
3. ???
4. Profit

The Two Billion Dollar Laptop (4, Funny)

atomicthumbs (824207) | more than 5 years ago | (#26097847)

Doubt that this project will catch on.

Teachers were probably the reason. (3, Insightful)

Zombie Ryushu (803103) | more than 5 years ago | (#26097853)

Of course.

I have a feeling that is what the case will be. The teachers who have Windows desktops in their classrooms took one look at Linux and went "No. You give us Windows or the boxes will wind up collecting dust in the back of the classroom." And that was probably was what alot of the Independent Education software vendors said too. "We have thousands of man hours and workers tied up in this Windows only education software. We will not port our software to Linux. Put Windows on your boxes or we will take our business elsewhere."

Re:Teachers were probably the reason. (4, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26097913)

Yeah, because ISVs often dictate the terms for government contracts.

Re:Teachers were probably the reason. (4, Insightful)

jbolden (176878) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098123)

QuantumG is correct also look at the quantities. 4m. 4m units you get to set terms to software vendors.

Re:Teachers were probably the reason. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26098661)

(modding)
The teachers who have Windows desktops in their classrooms took one look at Linux and went "No.
You would think so. As an ex-teacher and a computer consultant, it's the Departments that tell the teachers what to do and not the other way. Feedback from the base up the hierarchy is normally ignored as teachers have no knowledge outside what they are trained to do.
What the Departments and consultants would be saying is:
1. Teacher Training for Ubuntu would be expensive - after all they are the ones who have to show the kiddies how to make it work and use in their particular subject areas. That's a big ask, however in certain subject areas, MACS are used.
2. Consultancy support. That's Departmental based consultancy that are composed of teachers withdrawn from classes and offered full time work to do staff development. Another huge ask. Consultants need to be trained to use the software, right practices etc before they enter a classroom or staffroom.
3. The point of giving kids access to their own personal computers is to prepare them for their working lives and give them opportunities they wouldn't normally have. Now a lot of kids/families have computers, but a significant portion don't or don't have access when they need it. Here it doesn't matter if Windows or Ubuntu get picked as they both serve the purpose well.

Money means everything here, and if the Federal government wants to set aside millions to train consultants to train teachers, then they should have done that 12 months ago.
I bet my union subscription that we'll see Windows XP and not Ubuntu.

Re:Teachers were probably the reason. (3, Insightful)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 5 years ago | (#26099137)

What the Departments and consultants would be saying is...

So counter those arguments as thus:

1. The teachers that get sent off for Windows "training" come back nearly as clueless as to usage to make it a laugh at best. Just pick your apps, train a few staff, and have them take it from there. You tell the teachers what to click, and they do so. This is NO different than Windows or OSX. Once those boxes are set up and networked, there is VERY little a teacher needs to do that'd require anything above "user" level.

2. Key phrase here is "teachers pulled from the classroom". If they're already teaching, then they've already been trained on whichever system they're using that year. It isn't like they're going to be installing RAID arrays and other hardware. That's usually saved for the hardware vendor. Once again, this is showing someone how to show someone what to click. No worries.

Here it doesn't matter if Windows or Ubuntu get picked as they both serve the purpose well.

Sure, were it not for the MS plan to host this in "the cloud"... {Oooo, do I hate that 2-word phrase. It's a network, ya doofs. Fraggin' buzzword bingo. {/soapbox}}

Internet access isn't cheap in Australia. Unless they're considering local hosting, MS's apps will eat bandwidth for no reason other than to run a word processor. Multiply that by just a few hundred students, and it starts looking ugly for whomever's paying the ISP. Multiply this by the number of students in Australia, and it's downright nasty.

I could care less which OS they use, as long as they're using SOME sense about it.

What a great alternative (5, Insightful)

meist3r (1061628) | more than 5 years ago | (#26097861)

Owning a netbook that merely runs a basic version of an operating sytem that the company itself wants to get rid off and as the only reason to chose over a full-scale FOSS option I get an MS version of Google Apps? No thanks, take the Linux computers and spend whatever you're saving on some Tux-savvy teachers.

Re:What a great alternative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26098147)

... you're an idiot. Good teachers aren't easy to recruit, most teachers are the education equivalent of 'code monkeys' and the good ones don't usually get a chance to reveal themselves to the higher ups. It's a damn shame too... unfortunately due to severe teacher shortage we don't have a choice but to keep and hire more teaching-monkeys.

Re:What a great alternative (1)

GFree678 (1363845) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098337)

spend whatever you're saving on some Tux-savvy teachers.

They don't exist. Not in the necessary numbers.

Re:What a great alternative (1)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098889)

i'm sure they exist, they just aren't sought after by schools because everyone uses Windows. if you're only ever putting out ads looking for teachers proficient in Windows, then that's all you'll ever come across. that does not mean that Linux or even Unix-savvy teachers don't exist. and even if there aren't enough at the moment, by actually creating a demand for such teachers you'll start attracting Linux users to the teacher profession, not to mention it'll pressure current teachers to pick up Linux.

i mean, do you think that there was already an existing computer-savvy workforce when PCs were first introduced? no, but people quickly adapted and a workforce was created to fill the immense demand for computer skills. there's no reason to think that it would be any different with Linux instructors.

Re:What a great alternative (0, Troll)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098971)

spend whatever you're saving on some Tux-savvy teachers.

And how many of those exist, exactly? The answer is "not very many."

Face it--Linux remains difficult to use (I say this as an OSS contributor, myself, with a lot of *nix time under my belt). The retraining would be expensive, quite potentially more expensive than any Microsoft infrastructure, and the users would still in all likelihood complain that it's Not Windows. You'd have to have a very compelling reason to force a switch to something nobody uses and nobody wants in order to justify user pushback and retraining costs.

That reason does not, at present, exist. Maybe it will in the future, and I hope it does, but at present it simply isn't there. Sorry. Quit evangelizing and get back to improving the product and maybe that reason will be there.

in the could (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26097889)

Ha host the software in the cloud so that the students can access it on their broadband connection.

You know, the one they are totally building.

that just sounds weird... (1)

xda (1171531) | more than 5 years ago | (#26097921)

hosting the educational software in a cloud... is this a licensing thing? or HDD space issue?

knowing microsoft it's a licensing thing, and its pretty funny they are going to give the software to every fraking kid in Australia BUT to complicate things with licensing scheme crap. Just put the damn software on the laptop so these kids can focus on learning instead of licensing!

Re:that just sounds weird... (1)

cyber-dragon.net (899244) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098315)

But why? They want to teach them that they are inherently criminals and will be treated as such for the rest of their lives early. If you get them used to it as children they won't know any better as adults.

Cloud == Cheaper?? (3, Insightful)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 5 years ago | (#26097945)

I don't think so. It's just a nice way to guarantee that the government will have to buy and maintain some MS servers.

Considering overhead... (2, Interesting)

Methlin (604355) | more than 5 years ago | (#26097959)

The cheapest EEE should be around $380AUD which should leave plenty for bureaucratic overhead, graft, and kickbacks. However that's the Linux version, the ones that can actually run XP would be around $530AUD which is over budget.

Re:Considering overhead... (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098287)

When you buy for 2 billion worth, you tend to get better deals, so I'm not sure those numbers will be on the dot.

Re:Considering overhead... (0, Offtopic)

Elektroschock (659467) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098563)

Samsung is currently top of the class.

Re:Considering overhead... (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098743)

All of the EEEs can run XP.

not every kid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26097979)

TFA states that the laptop is being given to "every school aged child" - its actually only every student in senior high school (4th - 6th form)

Computer != Education (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26098013)

Sure, it's a tool, but wouldn't that $2 billion be better spent on smaller class sizes, better teachers, etc.?

Re:Computer != Education (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098595)

This is $500 per student. I'm assuming those are Australian dollars, so around $330 US dollars. That buys you somewhere between a quarter and a half of a teacher, for one year, per class of 30. Looking at some real numbers, the starting salary for a teacher in Australia is $41,109, or the same cost as 82 laptops. I couldn't find any data on the average class size in Australia, but buying 1/82 of a teacher per child doesn't sound like it would make much difference, especially since it would only last for one year.

Re:Computer != Education (2, Interesting)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 5 years ago | (#26099039)

Yeah, I guess you're right.

But are there any studies showing that students having laptops improve their learning to justify such an expense?

Do the students keep the laptops post-graduation?

And, could some overcrowded schools benefit from more teachers to reduce class size? Not all schools, but some.

And, where precisely is this money coming from? The taxpayers, right? Is Australia in a recession like America? Maybe it's time to conserve rather than spend.

M$'s software = free when unwanted (1)

Yfrwlf (998822) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098103)

Especially with education. If it came down to it, I think they'd offer it for free to the schools in this situation rather than let Linux be used.

Re:M$'s software = free when unwanted (0, Troll)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | more than 5 years ago | (#26099001)

"Unwanted"? Bullshit. Windows is a better choice here because the teachers and the students are already accustomed to it. How many teachers and students out there want Linux? Very few, I'd wager. The cost savings would fall under the problems of retraining and user resistance/pushback. It's just not a smart move.

Now, if you lot did less evangelization and more making Linux an excellent desktop, maybe people would want it. The contribution of code is worth a lot more than "BAWWW NOBODY WANTS OUR SHIT!".

Summary incorrect (4, Informative)

kaos07 (1113443) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098135)

to give a laptop to every school-aged child

No, the policy is to give upper high school children in years 9-12 a laptop not "every school-aged child".

Re:Summary incorrect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26099171)

I shake my head every time I see one of these discussions about purchasing a laptop for every(whatever 'every' means) student. Purchasing is the tip of the iceberg here. Have any of these administrators ever purchased and maintained there own laptop/software and been responsible for keeping it running? Then theirs the internet connection costs and speeds required to run Microsofts cloud(vapor) ware.

Many kids have trouble making sure their homework makes it to class, let alone a laptop. You thought you'd heard every excuse in the book before, wait until someone has to explain where their laptop went.

I'm smelling a tax increase...

Pay now or pay later... you still pay the MS piper (2, Insightful)

Reapl (96156) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098167)

OK, so Micro$haft have come up with a cost model that in the short term "may" allow the laptops to be purchased for the same money, but ffs can't people look long term with this stuff and not just the initial up front cost.

So you aren't paying the MS tax for office now, but instead you are just amoritising that cost over years of needing larger internet bandwidth to the "cloud". With some of the crap being bandied about down here lets go out on the edge and look at issues with this...
    - The new $8Billion national broadband network of which one core issue is to provide school networks if it doesn't come off then stuffed internet for schools means no cloud that will be useful
    - The great aussie internet fence (like the rabbit proof fence not the great wall)... if you are using the cloud lets hope no cloud server accidently gets put on the black list...
    - I have not seen anything from MS that show the ongoing cost analysis of this
    - how much to upgrade the version of office in the 'cloud'?
    - how and at what cost to get non-MS products into this mysterios 'cloud'?
    - when are MS going to force me to upgrade ALL my netbooks because the latest cloud products don't work on the old core netbook OS? (and it will be forced look at their track record)

Basically, I don't like ther risks or the costings of this cloud computing model for schools like this...

Re:Pay now or pay later... you still pay the MS pi (3, Insightful)

Yfrwlf (998822) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098493)

It's simple, Linux = free. Windows = cost. They want money, they're a business, that's why they push their product. Even if they sold it to them for free, M$ would still benefit from them using it.

So, I don't need to see a cost analysis, and I definitely don't need to see one from M$ to try to justify their existence to me. Money should go into FOSS through paid development, bounties, and support. That should be what all institutions are geared towards, but instead they are stuck in the past.

"Here's a government contract to make the FOSS equivalent of Reader Rabbit for students for our schools. We are now taking bids."

That's the kind of stuff everyone should be seeing from their governments. The amount of money that every single school district spends on individual purchases for close source software, oftentimes it being the same software over and over and over again for all the licenses, would be enough money to pay developers to program every single piece of open source software schools would ever need all over the entire world a hundred times over, and what's more it would be a long-term investment instead of a flash in the pan. When governments wake up to this, the world will be a better place, but they won't wake up until citizens start waking them.

P.S., of course you can apply it to all other branches of governments, to businesses, and everyone else. The amount of money thrown away for temporary software orgasms is astronomical. More cooperation is needed for the new age of software development.

Re:Pay now or pay later... you still pay the MS pi (1)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | more than 5 years ago | (#26099023)

It's simple, Linux = free. Windows = cost.

Now when did retraining suddenly become free?

"Here's a government contract to make the FOSS equivalent of Reader Rabbit for students for our schools. We are now taking bids."

So...in other words, Linux isn't free.

I'm kind of curious how much OSS code you actually contribute, as opposed to whining about how bad Microsoft is.

New Windows 7/Vista Part Deux? (1)

RancidPickle (160946) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098359)

Wow, I thought Vista had terrible hardware requirements, but by deciding on Windows, they need a $2,000,000,000AU laptop to run it. What's next for Vista III? Someone will have to build Deep Thought?

Technical reasons? (1)

luis_schultz (1295529) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098377)

So, basically, I am very curious about the technical reasons which led the Australian government into considering this option.

Personally, I can see no reason for one to pay money for an architechture/platform depedent, time/space inefficient, closed operational system with no guarantees of freedom from malicious software even from the own vendor while one is next to an architechture independent, extremely efficient and open source costless alternative... except perhaps for either ignorance or corruption or both. Sadly, none of those are actually technical reasons...

That said, I think making the deal with MS going against all technical evidence should constitute a public crime just like it probably would were things out of the IT world.

By the way, MS offering to lower prices for school children often remembers me of a drug dealer selling the first handful of drugs for a low price to an unaddicted youngster.

Re:Technical reasons? (1)

kaos07 (1113443) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098399)

The reason is that the government needs to consider all reasonable options and can't simply dismiss the biggest software provider in the world without potentially opening itself up to claims that the tender process was prohibitive.

Re:Technical reasons? (1)

luis_schultz (1295529) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098499)

I see the point.

I thought they had already decided not to run windows and are now reconsidering the decision.

Still, I guess they will open up themselves to brutally more critics should they actually go with MS.

Re:Technical reasons? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26098479)

How about compatibility with tens of thousands of past and future applications?

Re:Technical reasons? (1)

Yfrwlf (998822) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098585)

It's just much easier and faster to call them dumb. ^^

Re:Technical reasons? (1)

luis_schultz (1295529) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098667)

True, but that would make it a lot easier for people to call me a troll. :-)

P.S.: I am not a troll.

Forever? (1)

nextekcarl (1402899) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098409)

Are they promising to keep the cloud software available for as long as the laptops last, even if that's many, many years? Oh, they aren't? Then no deal. And that's not even considering that software doesn't do you much good if you don't have a good net connection. Much like power windows in a car (see what I did there?) they aren't much good if the power goes out. Cloud software like this needs to be more like power locks. Work both with and without power, they degrade gracefully.

yeah, right! (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098549)

We'll still charge you loads for the OS, but we'll let you use our "cloud applications" real cheap!

What a load of horseshit.

With Ubuntu and Open Office, they can have better OS and better software for free, and not have to rely on an internet connection all the time!

What Microsoft didn't say in the article was... (1)

layer3switch (783864) | more than 5 years ago | (#26098845)

Microsoft itself claimed it will keep costs per unit down by hosting a lot of the educational software in the cloud

"We'll have software that runs on the device but also leverage Live Services and other applications that run in the cloud."

LITERALLY.

Microsoft 1 :: Children 0

At Redmond, WA, life is good...

Don't forget all the great data mining benefits... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26098975)

... that MS can harvest from observing all the behavioral patterns of another generation of information consumers in the MS "Cloud". I love the the term "cloud"... reminds me of something natural, good, etc... in effect, I think it's a great way to have people relinquish their privacy rights wholesale... reminds me of the good old eula. I think it's slippery slope for both sides and could lead to a confidence "bubble"... like the internet "bubble" and the housing "bubble" in the US... I think it's the same cast of characters, but with different costumes putting on the same play with a different title.

I am Australian... (2, Interesting)

spandex_panda (1168381) | more than 5 years ago | (#26099185)

and I for one would make a phone call if I knew who to. I would recommend using Linux and in particular striking a deal for support from Ubuntu or Redhat to get a custom OS running on 10" eees or U100 Winds. This way you would pay ~$500 AUD for each and the OS would be top notch. An issue with the Linux on these little laptops is that it seems rushed together. Using a full fledged Linux distro with package management would empower kids like nothing else! What with 2 million kids banging away at python and the few of them who contribute patches contributing patches to Ubuntu it would be a very great thing! Next they support their parents and grandparents building and maintaining their Ubuntu Pcs ... I recommend Microsoft should pay to get Windows on these things!

Bad idea, Microsoft or not (2, Insightful)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 5 years ago | (#26099299)

Having all of your apps in a remote "cloud" cannot possibly be a good idea, at least for a school. How much are they going to have to beef up their network just for that alone?

Figures (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26099301)

Just like Microsoft to say "But we can be good AND cost-efficient too! (...if we lower our profit margins...)" when they start losing ground.

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