Beta

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

How Microsoft Beats GNU/Linux In Schools

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the doing-battle-like-an-insider dept.

Microsoft 476

twitter writes "Ever wonder why schools still use Windows? Boycott Novell has extracted the details from 2002 Microsoft email presented in the Comes vrs Microsoft case and other leaks. What emerges is Microsoft's desperate battle to 'never lose to Linux.' At stake for Microsoft is more than a billion dollars of annual revenue, vital user conditioning and governmental lock in that excludes competition, and software freedom for the rest of us. Education and Government Incentives [EDGI] and "Microsoft Unlimited Potential" are programs that allows vendors to sell Windows at zero cost. Microsoft's nightmare scenario has already been realized in Indiana and other places. Windows is not really competitive and schools that switch save tens of millions of dollars. Because software is about as expensive as the hardware in these deals, the world could save up to $500 million each year by dumping Microsoft. Now that the cat is out of the bag, it's hard to see what Microsoft can do other than what they did to Peter Quinn."

cancel ×

476 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Product dumping (5, Interesting)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 5 years ago | (#26424481)

Microsoft has already been ruled a monopoly... isn't dumping [wikipedia.org] an illegal tactic for monopolies?

Re:Product dumping (5, Interesting)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 5 years ago | (#26424583)

It's not dumping if the competition (Linux) is free. They are not going to put Linux out of bussiness by undercutting linux's profit margin. It might be possible they are however dumping with regard to software support (red hat, IBM, Novell, ...) But I think this would be hard to argue succesfully.

Even the memos from MS state MS cannot and will not compete soley on the basis of price.

The thing is their products are agile in price since they have high fixed costs and low marginal costs. Airlines are classic example of this. Airlines try to create price structures (e.g. saturday stays, advance purchase, limited kinds of seats, luggage limits,... ) so that they integrate the area under the demand curve.

Far from being unfair this is actually socially ideal. In the ideal limit people pay for something exactly what it is worth. depsite the fact that some folks pay more than others, over all nearly everyone, including the people paying the higher price, are paying LESS than they would have to pay if it was sold for a fixed price, because of the increased demand lowers the per capitia fixed costs.

I also question broad statements like " Windows is not really competitive and schools that switch save tens of millions of dollars.". Anecdotally maybe this is has happened. But it's not really clear that this is true in general. School systems are one of the most budget limited govt run orgs. They try everything to shave dollars, like fees for art supplies, to hot lunches paid for by PTO fund raisers. I find it hard to believe the schools would somehow be so blind as to over look an easy "tens of millions" if the case was clear cut.

" Windows is not really competitive and schools that switch save tens of millions of dollars. "

Re:Product dumping (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26424657)

Macs are the main competition to Windows, not Linux.

Re:Product dumping (0, Flamebait)

AppleOSuX (1080499) | more than 5 years ago | (#26424979)

Yeah, uhhhh no. Not for business.

Re:Product dumping (1, Informative)

atraintocry (1183485) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425215)

RTFHeadline.

Re:Product dumping (-1, Offtopic)

AppleOSuX (1080499) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425323)

I was replying to the comment, not the fucking article dipshit.

Re:Product dumping (2, Insightful)

memco (721915) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425237)

Education, however, is a place where Apple holds a substantial portion of the market, and is the market.

Re:Product dumping (2, Insightful)

Lulfas (1140109) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425499)

Except in the non-first world countries, where they aren't.

Re:Product dumping (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26425281)

Unbiased from someone named 'AppleOSux'. Allthough I use linux at home and personally think it's better on price and technical merit than windows or OS X, Apple wins at schools for the same reason schools use windows. OS X runs photoshop students use in photo class, it runs MS Office that everyone has their documents in (and before you say OO, our school switched to office 07 this year and OO has had problems on at least half of the documents, allthough usually its just formatting problems and you can still read it). Our school is about half macs right now. They decide the OS based on the applications. OS X runs office, photoshop, eclipse, audacity (I know those last two are cross platform/OSS), and the rest of the software they need, except for the teachers grading software that runs on windows, which is why every classroom has one windows comp in it.

Re:Product dumping (5, Insightful)

gustar (125316) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425255)

Macs are the main competition to Windows, not Linux.

I do not think that is true. Plenty of people and organizations use Linux on the desktop/laptop.

With Linux (or say FreeBSD) you can deliver a functional platform with *all* of the applications a typical (and not so typical user) needs for *no* acquisition cost.

Definitely an attractive value proposition which continues to attract attention.

Re:Product dumping (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425483)

Linux might make headway for that cost reason now that we're in economic downturn, but right now Mac has over three times the users.

Mac OSX is a very small part of the cost of a Mac. And all the major desktop GNU/Linux apps run on Mac OSX

Re:Product dumping (5, Insightful)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425319)

The main competition to Windows Is Windows N-1.

Dumping. (1, Troll)

Erris (531066) | more than 5 years ago | (#26424681)

It is dumping if it's targeted against a specific competitor. It's also dumping if it's significantly below your costs. Realizing zero revenue from a deal if it will help you "never lose to Linux" is about as textbook a dump as you can find. Once the dump is over, the price always comes up and you lose the next time because you don't have as many choices - the competitor is gone. GNU/Linux won't go away, so M$ has an endless task ahead of it.

Warning: Known sockpuppet/troll (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26424847)

User [slashdot.org] maintains more than a dozen sockpuppet accounts [slashdot.org] on Slashdot.

Re:Dumping. (2, Interesting)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 5 years ago | (#26424973)

Well, if Linuzzz can be installed for free at schools and Windows cost a little bit (MS Select and Campus contracts are really a good deal at schools and universities), how do you explain the fact that Windows and Macs still have the edge in education over GNU/Linuzzz?

Couldn't be that this is the tool (I repeat, the TOOL, not the religion) that is, for good or bad, the defacto standard out there in the real world? Couldn't be a good think that you are preparing your students to use the tools (I repeat, not the religion) that could help them to face the real world market?

Sure, it could be a cool think to get Basquian language to be obligatory for all schools in Sweden, but I think (and correct me if I'm wrong) that students would be more happy having a good English language education, just for their future sake. Basquian? Sure, be my guest, get a book and learn.

Re:Dumping. (5, Insightful)

gustar (125316) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425389)

Who says they Microsoft has the edge? Where I work we hire a number of kids out of college, *all* of them have higher degree of comfort implementing various solutions on a Linux/BSD platform then Windows. That tells me they are getting a tremendous amount of exposure to these platforms during their college years.

Quite frankly I manage to do my own job quite effectively without having to rely on Microsoft products at all, this includes technical aspects as well communicating, documenting, etc.

So by all means use the tools you are comfortable with, but do not imply that they are the only choice for the *real world* when that is not even close to being the case.

Re:Product dumping (4, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 5 years ago | (#26424853)

It's not the operating system that pays, it's the sum of platform applications and infrastructure where Microsoft makes money, coupled to the students that know nothing else but Windows. The tip of the iceberg is Windows. The cash cows are Office, SQL Server, Exchange, and the add-ons, upgrades, and other platform products.

You don't 'lose' to Linux, you lose revenue that represents lots of infrastructure, server licenses, CALs, and so on.

There are few professional organizations that can do an end-to-end Linux infrastructure for educational needs (including school administration software costs) but the list is growing, if by populism alone.

Part of Microsoft's loss is the horrible security problems of 1998-2007, as they're less than before. That damage hurt Microsoft-- coupled to support costs for the products. Macs have always been a fractional part of the educational market, and Apple's done a lot to damage their own relationships with schools-- but students love them.

Microsoft has a lot to learn about love, rather than feigning leadership.

Re:Product dumping (4, Insightful)

diegocgteleline.es (653730) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425163)

Indeed, and consider how MUCH money on training Microsoft gets for free when public schools teach with Microsoft products.

It's not just the license. It's all the taxes you pay to train your own childs for the benefit of a private company.

Re:Product dumping (3, Informative)

ZombieRoboNinja (905329) | more than 5 years ago | (#26424877)

>>School systems are one of the most budget limited govt run orgs.

This is true, but there are often a lot of state or national funds available specifically for technology that don't come out of the school's (local) budget. So there are actually a lot of public schools that have more money than they really need sloshing around for computers, even if they're scrambling to pay their teachers and replace horrendously outdated textbooks.

Re:Product dumping (1)

Bromskloss (750445) | more than 5 years ago | (#26424907)

they integrate the area under the demand curve.

Far from being unfair this is actually socially ideal. In the ideal limit people pay for something exactly what it is worth.

Ah I like to reason about this kind of things! What do we mean by "exactly what it is worth" in this case? Is it in the eyes of the buyer or the seller?

Re:Product dumping (0)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425019)

they integrate the area under the demand curve.

Far from being unfair this is actually socially ideal. In the ideal limit people pay for something exactly what it is worth.

Ah I like to reason about this kind of things! What do we mean by "exactly what it is worth" in this case? Is it in the eyes of the buyer or the seller?

Adam smith would say both. A price is s single thing: it's what the buyer pays and the seller gets. For any deal to happen it has to be worth it to both sides.

Re:Product dumping (1)

stinerman (812158) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425221)

I'm not so sure.

Smith believed in the labor theory of value, so he'd have thought that what the software was "worth" is the amount of labor required to produce it.

Re:Product dumping (3, Interesting)

v(*_*)vvvv (233078) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425053)

Great post, but I have to challenge this statement:

are paying LESS than they would have to pay if it was sold for a fixed price, because of the increased demand lowers the per capitia fixed costs.

No. Companies maximize profit by charging the maximum price a consumer tier will permit. It has nothing to do with saving anyone any money. The increased demand lowering fixed costs is a separate matter that also holds true, but companies simply bank on the lowered fixed costs, and do not pass it on to consumers. They may say so, but the only time companies are supposed to lower prices is when they need to be more competitive. Of course, when they raise prices they love to put it on increased costs, but we all know from the oil companies that in their case the increase in oil prices was directly proportional to their obscene level of profits.

No one should second guess the intents of any large corporation. They are required to squeeze every dime out of the consumer. The economy is built around this behavior. If a private company is charging less than it can, they are a great M&A opportunity. If it is a public company, the shareholders would not allow it. It is only a matter of time until prices are adjusted to their maximums.

Re:Product dumping (5, Interesting)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425063)

It's not dumping if the competition (Linux) is free.

Last I saw, Linux wasn't free, RedHat, Novell and Canonical all sell it (plus assorted support and licensing offerings) for quite a sum. Therefore, this dumping is illegal. surely?

plus, Macs certainly aren't free, and they're also part Microsoft's of the competition.

Re:Product dumping (1, Troll)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425161)

Indeed. Linux is a kernel, not a product. The free distros cannot really be argued to compete for government contracts. Moreover, Linux's FOSS development methodology is simply based on the scientific and academic sharing in the academic world it came from. It may not even be right to argue that Linux itself CAN be a competitor, given that. It would be like claiming physics professors who give away their ideas and laser technology demo software are competing with a laser pointer manufacturer.

Saving money vs risk taking (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425121)

Sure, schools have very strict budgets, but they are very cautious too and will not take risks. Moving to Linux is perceived as very high risk. Teachers are already overworked and also don't want change that they see little benefit in doing.

Saving money through fund raisers etc is seen to be low risk and a proven way to get money to flow the right way. An experiment in Linux is perceived to be a lot more risky and harder. The school's computers are often seen to be very high expense items and there is a preception that running Linux lowers their value or might even cause damage. Don't want to take any risks with that!

Re:Product dumping (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26424757)

Because it's objectively NOT a monopoly, regardless of whatever nonobjective "law" states.

90%+ of a market is a monopoly (2, Informative)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 5 years ago | (#26424863)

Hell even 50%+ is considered a monopoly for all intents and purposes in most jurisdictions.

Re:Product dumping (4, Insightful)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 5 years ago | (#26424989)

Adding the word objective to your argument does not make it any more objective.

You need to show WHY it is objectively more or less of a monopoly than the Law says and ALSO show why we should consider your definition of monopoly rather than the legal one.

Objectively strangling an infant or elderly person should be less of a crime than strangling a young adult because the young adult is harder to replace than the infant and has more to provide to society in terms of man-hours work.

While objectivity can help justice; justice is not necessarily objective

Or (4, Insightful)

jayhawk88 (160512) | more than 5 years ago | (#26424487)

Schools prefer to use Windows because it's what the vast majority of their faculty and staff know, it's what the vast majority of their software runs on, and it's what students will encounter on the vast majority of computers they will use in the real world.

Re:Or (5, Insightful)

slugtastic (1437569) | more than 5 years ago | (#26424569)

And why is that? Because Microsoft has a monopoly over the market.

So? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26424785)

Being a monopoly is neither illegal nor I would argue immoral. It's what you do with your monopolistic power that makes that determination. In this context it is also important to mention that MS is the original 'give it away for free or close to free' people. This was true even way before Windows had a lock on PCs.

I would agree with the comments above about Windows being what the student will encounter and add further that this reasoning extends to the OLPC and similar products, which is why we are seeing Windows on those platforms instead of a free OS.

Re:Or (1)

JumpDrive (1437895) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425057)

I don't strictly believe this is the case. Microsoft sells to Educational Institutions at a deep discount. So to them it doesn't make sense to go through the hassle of switching to another OS. Most of the places where I've seen *nix used is in high end computing, not on the servers or desktops. Most of the IT culture (the maintainers) is a MS culture. The *nix systems are maintained by a completely different group.

Re:Or (2, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425131)

They have a monopoly or they gained a monopoly?

Apple and Microsoft and Unix were all small time operating systems "back in the day," right? So ... what's the deal? Why didn't the ever-so-more-amazing Linux, Unix, or OS X become the monopoly? You can't argue that Apple doesn't do *cough* "weird" *cough* business practices. Many of the mainstream unix flavors (Solaris, AIX, HPUX) were never really consumer oriented but server oriented, and Linux is somewhat new as far as compatibility and consumer-usability goes, as far as I understand it (the earliest I started using it was around 2000).

So it came down, in the late 80s and 90s, to either Apple's OS or Microsoft's OS. Apparently, people liked Microsoft's.

Whether or not they have a monopoly now I guess is debatable, but even if they didn't do any of monopoly-ish business practices now, they STILL would have a large share of the market. It's not necessarily because "they are a monopoly" but because it is hard to break a large market share. Case in point: search engines and Google. Or for a while, search engines and Yahoo. A lot of search engines just plain died or never were popular. Usually only one or two survive and become the "giants," and the others get a few percentage of the fun.

The fact that Linux (and OS X) is growing is good, but I grow tired of the constant complaints that somehow, Microsoft is paying off all the old grandma's to stay with Windows... as if Dell could suddenly ship Linux on a desktop and not have TONS of technical support calls asking "Why can't I use iTunes?" or "Why doesn't [insert something] work?"

Re:Or (3, Insightful)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425299)

Actually, UNIX used to be for anything "serious" along with VMS (Workstations, minicomputers and general server duties), not just "small time" or "server oriented".

A large part of what happened was that MS managed to gain market share by 1) Widespread piracy and 2) Being not nearly as good as the UNIX systems but also a lot cheaper. Point no. 2 is also why a lot of us who remember the days of MS-DOS, Win 2.x/3.x and other horrors may grudgingly admit that Microsoft's current operating system offerings are usable but still prefer *nix systems, because MS "won" by fighting dirty...

/Mikael

Re:Or (4, Insightful)

onefriedrice (1171917) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425335)

I think you're suggesting that Microsoft "gained" their monopoly fair and square. As if "apparently people liked [Windows]."

Unfortunately, that's not very apparent at all. Apple had a viable, easy-to-use operating system at the same time. It eventually became outdated, yet it had a lot going for it including some nice killer apps (desktop publishing for one). You can't simply shrug that off as 'people just liked Windows better' unless you know what you're talking about.

In actuality, Microsoft gained its monopoly using questionably dubious, but well documented, business tactics, and now they use that OS monopoly in yet more questionable and dubious ways. This is generally known and accepted, but maybe your "apparently people liked [Windows]" comment isn't so well supported.

Re:Or (1, Insightful)

Jamie's Nightmare (1410247) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425167)

Because nothing else, UNIX clones included, can do better than Microsoft when it comes to delivering a desktop OS. Everyone is free to compete. Even you.

Re:Or (3, Insightful)

the_enigma_1983 (742079) | more than 5 years ago | (#26424615)

Or maybe the vast majority of [the worlds] software runs on [Windows], and [Windows is] what students will encounter on the vast majority of computers they will use in the real world because that is what schools have used, and how Microsoft helped build their monopoly.

Re:Or (5, Interesting)

duguk (589689) | more than 5 years ago | (#26424859)

In my experience (I worked in a school for 7 years and went to the same one for 5 years; and worked in a primary school for about 18 months), the only reason they use Microsoft is out of habit. That's what they're used to, what the staff are used to, and what the IT Technicians are used to. If anything breaks, there's Microsoft to blame.

Fact is, most of the time, all they use is a Word Processor and a Web Browser. Occasionally using presentation software, and maybe some spreadsheeting and database software. Have a guess what most of the staff are used to; and how much trouble they have with MS Access for teaching GCSE. Serious problems come up with the less experienced staff just with Microsoft's software. Now imagine trying to suggest using something new.

There's no reason they couldn't use Linux aside from the installation and support; switching from OpenOffice to Microsoft Office really isn't much different than going from Windows to Mac. I finally managed to convince them to have a couple of Ubuntu machines that the students had no problems with using, I wanted the students to have an experience of all operating systems; surely that's the idea of being at a school? Experiencing as much as possible? Most of the staff wouldn't even try. Some would, but most wouldn't. Some even wanted Windows 95 back.

Microsoft configuration just isn't cut out to be used in schools, it's hard to tie down the operating system as much as the staff really want it, Linux would be a god-send, but I can't see it happening any time soon. It'd save a lot of money and effort overall, and a lot of time if the staff were able, and the governors were willing. Most IT Techs aren't even trained and get the job because they know someone on the inside; or like me; proved themselves when they worked there. Not for the will of trying to change, but getting a school to do anything is damn near impossible.

Oh, the reason I left? The pay and conditions were terrible; most things just weren't working right, security was a joke, almost daily re-installs in some of the rooms, and no-one was interested in doing anything about it.

Re:Or (1)

speedingant (1121329) | more than 5 years ago | (#26424889)

But software is useless if it's useless.

Re:Or ... it could be that MS gives it away! (2, Interesting)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 5 years ago | (#26424685)

schools prefer to use Windows because it's what the vast majority of their faculty and staff know, ...

A couple or so years ago, I asked a university lecturer why they used so much MS software, when the obviously had knowledge of Linux and Unix -- the reply was something like "we get it free" (or perhaps "almost free").

In this case, it is free as in beer trumping free as in speech.

Re:Or ... it could be that MS gives it away! (3, Insightful)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 5 years ago | (#26424871)

A couple or so years ago, I asked a university lecturer why they used so much MS software, when the obviously had knowledge of Linux and Unix -- the reply was something like "we get it free" (or perhaps "almost free").

So they were using it because it was better ? Because they certainly wouldn't have been paying more for Linux or UNIX...

Re:Or ... it could be that MS gives it away! (1)

BeerCat (685972) | more than 5 years ago | (#26424943)

A couple or so years ago, I asked a university lecturer why they used so much MS software, when the obviously had knowledge of Linux and Unix -- the reply was something like "we get it free" (or perhaps "almost free").

Don't forget that in the early days (Windows 3 / 3.1), MS tended to turn a blind eye to copying, as it increased mindshare.

(Also, at the same time, some organisations were still on DOS, but the new machines came with Windows disks. Those installing the company setup used to keep the Windows disks, or give them away. Of course, once they had all the copies of Windows that they and their friends could possibly use, a quick re-format of the floppy disks allowed their re-use - disks were expensive)

Re:Or ... it could be that MS gives it away! (1)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425021)

Believe me, after a couple of free beers I no longer care for freedom of speech. I use a lot of software that is "free as in beer" and I'm absolutely happy with it. And non-free software? I use a lot more (including the OS, development tools, etc), and I'm delighted with what I use as well. I'll never understand the ideological "free as in speech" fixation.

Re:Or (-1, Troll)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#26424915)

No! M$ is evil! They kill kittens without even captioning them! Bill Gates and Michael Jackson do lines of coke off 5 year-old ass every Tuesday. Information wants to be free! The man is keeping us down! YEAR OF THE LINUX DESKTOP!!!

Re:Or (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#26424933)

Then why give it away for free if they'll use it anyway?

Re:Or (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26425079)

And that occurs because Microsoft gives extraordinary discounts--discounts that Linux can never hope to match--to the schools.

I once read about one of Microsofts tactics in business (or at least a potential tactic--I have no idea if this plan was ever implemented or even conceived at Microsoft--this is third to fourth-hand information): give away free copies of their new Office suite to the CEOs of the fortune 500. The CEOs start circulating memos and writing documents directed at other businesses which require the new software (or a reader--cumbersome when installed simultaneously with Office) in order to be read.

Imagine that you're a marketing firm and you get a memo requesting a bid. You sure as hell better be able to read it. You're forced to upgrade to the new version of Office if the bid came in in that format.

Lack of common file formats means that Office doesn't have to stand on its own merits--people will buy it just so that they can interoperate with other people who have it.

Teachers (4, Insightful)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 5 years ago | (#26424495)

Um, I think one of the perhaps very good reasons they don't use Linux is because the teachers are clueless as to how to use it.

Yeah, mark me as troll, but it's F'in true.

Re:Teachers (0, Flamebait)

unixan (800014) | more than 5 years ago | (#26424541)

Yeah, mark me as troll, but Microsoft's F'in them.

There, fixed it for ya.

Re:Teachers (2, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 5 years ago | (#26424599)

The sad part is... as a former teacher myself, I cannot help but agree, but with one caveat:

...because the vast majority of teachers are clueless as to how to use it.

...which is more accurate, but just as bad, methinks.

/P

Re:Teachers (2, Interesting)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425069)

It's been a long time since I've been in high school, and I really am curious. Do they even know how to use Windows?

I've got a baseless and unsupportable hypothesis (based on my lack of personal experience and lack of research) that teachers are afraid of technology, because their students know it better than them. And as a result, students are not getting the exposure to tech they need.

So really, how good is computer literacy in teachers today? Even for something as basic as Windows? (I remember in high school, my Spanish teacher was so afraid of the VCR, he didn't want any of us to touch it, not because we were vandals, but because he didn't know how to work it, and probably assumed the same of us)

Re:Teachers (1)

pjbgravely (751384) | more than 5 years ago | (#26424825)

Um, I think one of the perhaps very good reasons they don't use Linux is because the teachers are clueless as to how to use it.

They won't be able to find their icons to click on because they are on the top panel instead of the bottom? The same problem with the task bar and system tray?

An easy fix for that is to set up a special teachers image that puts everything on the bottom. You can even make it an ugly blue while you are at it.

I think that moving to OSX (which doesn't have the ability to change to fit the user) would be much harder for them.

Or do you mean teachers won't be able to fix things when they break. I doubt they can do that on windows right now.

Re:Teachers (1)

icepick72 (834363) | more than 5 years ago | (#26424959)

Why should teachers have to learn Linux or another OS? The Windows OS is easy to adapt to if you have little computer experience. Your average teacher doesn't need to learn a different OS or another set of apps. If the decision applied only to computer departments, well maybe, but for general use with a plethora of tools and software available that the average teacher is accustomed to, Windows will suffice.

Re:Teachers (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425099)

Teachers are clueless on how to use windows too. Teachers shouldn't be administering the things, just using apps that they're probably going to need to be trained for anyway.

Re:Teachers (4, Insightful)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425105)

Um, I think one of the perhaps very good reasons they don't use Linux is because the teachers are clueless as to how to use it.

Um, I think that the teachers are pretty clueless as to how to use Windows, too. I'd almost go as far as saying they're pretty clueless on how to run any hardware more advanced than hamster cages, but they generally can get students to do that for them.

Not to denigrate teachers - they are fine at what they're actually trained to do (i.e., teach), but most of them are the "typical computer user" (read clueless).

Re:Teachers (1)

DoubleMike (942739) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425117)

You are right, but if we're honest the teachers are almost as clueless as to how to use Windows. Actually, when I was in high school four years ago, even the IT guy (the librarian) didn't know how to use Windows as well as most of the students. I don't think Linux would have made much of a difference.

Re:Teachers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26425177)

That's exactly why some colleges, like Virginia Tech, don't use Mac instead...

Oh wait...

It's not true. It's true that a minority of people are clueless, but many educated people (like teachers) find the transition from Windows to OS X or Linux painless.

Re:Teachers (1)

DaveWick79 (939388) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425539)

A dozen years ago, in the schools we were working in, we had to drag the teachers and staff kicking and screaming away from their Macs.

You aren't going to get them to switch to Linux any easier - in fact, since the Linux experience isn't even close to the Mac experience, it will be even more difficult to sell them on Linux. Plenty of schools are running linux on the back end now, but it really boils down to the site sysadmin and what he/she and staff are trained for.

Den of paranoia? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26424537)

Some people think so [linux.com] . Paranoia is what leads to things like these [boycottnovell.com] (make sure you read the comments there), and makes that blog a rather annoying cesspool which occasionally plops out a useful bit of information.

Stay away from extremists, and get your news from people other than Slashdot's resident joke [slashdot.org] .

And kudos to ScuttleMonkey, who had to remove all the creative spelling and grammar errors from the submission.

Is that you Byfield? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26424813)

Have you finished censoring the comments in your story so that people don't know what a bix axe you have to grind? It should be apparent from the story itself, but people were nice enough to point out the details.

Re:Den of paranoia? (3, Funny)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 5 years ago | (#26424939)

And kudos to ScuttleMonkey, who had to remove all the creative spelling and grammar errors from the submission.

Whoa, back up there. Are you saying a Slashdot Editor actually edited something ? That's crazy talk.

Apps! (5, Informative)

Jjeff1 (636051) | more than 5 years ago | (#26424575)

One of my customers is a K-12 school. They have 10K students, and 390 different windows applications.

Most educational software simply isn't written for Linux. Most educational software is poorly written for Windows. Running as a non-admin user is always a hangup. I can't imagine trying to get all these apps to run under Wine. The chorus of "why don't we have windows" would be deafening.

The reason Windows beats Linux in schools is because the apps they need, work under windows. When the superintendent wants an application, he gets it. No matter how poorly written or insecure it is, we always end up installing it. If linux is somehow responsible for it not working, linux gets tossed, 100% of the time.

Re:Apps! (3, Insightful)

at_slashdot (674436) | more than 5 years ago | (#26424793)

Totally agree, people are interested in applications not in operating systems.

Re:Apps! (3, Interesting)

drspliff (652992) | more than 5 years ago | (#26424817)

It would be incredibly interesting if some people with more experience of school education software could put together a top 10 or top 20 list of common applications which are used throughout the country.

I'm sure the majority of them aren't very complex apps, and the learning material could be easily put together (perhaps with bounties for completing modules, it'd be a nice alternative source of income for teachers).

Anyway, with the goals in hand the problem of "Most educational software is poorly written for Windows." shouldn't be an issue, it's hard for me to write educational software because I don't have kids or experience teaching them... but with the right organisation I'd be happy to oblige.

Re:Apps! (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425371)

There's a link here [computing.co.uk] of open source news for UK schools. Doesn't look too bad, but you can guess nearly all of them still use Microsoft. This link [computing.co.uk] refers to Becta's appearance before another EU antitrust inquiry into Microsoft's practices.

Re:Apps! (1)

Internalist (928097) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425025)

One of my customers is a K-12 school. They have 10K students, and 390 different windows applications.

Where do you live, man? What elementary/high school has ten thousand students?!? And I thought my high school was big at 1000...yikes.

And what apps do high school people need that don't run on Linux?

Re:Apps! (4, Insightful)

Mr Z (6791) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425049)

This is something of a chicken and egg problem isn't there? I don't recall Windows having any sort of natural advantage when I was in school. It was all Apple ][s, except in the business department where they had some PS/2s running MS-DOS. A couple people thought Windows was interesting, but nobody was in a hurry to switch.

All of this Windows software has developed through the traditional "network effect," and that was nurtured through programs such as Microsoft's that put Windows on many desktops throughout the 90s. That doesn't mean it can't be brought to Linux someday, though. There has to be some demand before it happens. Either that, or some open source efforts to replace the poorly-written software that you mention.

Re:Apps! (1, Insightful)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425321)

I know people might hate this idea, but Linux will never see the kinds of growth Apple and Microsoft experienced.

Why? Because most Linux types are using Linux to use Linux. Most consumers use computers to chat with text and video. They want to watch movies. They want to read email. They don't want to be computer experts and they don't use any particular OS in order to be using that OS.

Re:Apps! (2, Insightful)

nbates (1049990) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425259)

Many school applications are web applications. Or Java applications.

Also, many of those applications are easy to reproduce, take for example Carnegie Learning's cognitive tutor ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnegie_Learning [wikipedia.org] ), not only it is easy to replicate, it also has many interesting challenges from the point of view of a computer scientist. Lot of room for improvement. It is a great job for an open source project.

The only problem is marketing. Most of this solutions are actually not that great, I have tried one Cognitive Tutor application and it has many flaws (wrong answers in some cases, enforces only one kind of solution to each program and doesn't consider alternative paths, very repetitive and boring, and so on). But if you have a sales team and good marketing, you have a hit.

Now, that's harder for an OS project.

Re:Apps! (5, Informative)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425273)

When Bob fail at math, Bob is bad at math. When Alice fails at math, girls are bad at math.
When an application crashes under Windows, the application failed. When an application crashes under Linux, Linux fails.

I may sound pompous, but the first bias is being fought by using techniques that could be used in the second as well. The most simple method that yields results is incredibly cheap : show people they have a bias. Most people don't like to feel that they are being sexist and try to correct their bias if they perceive it. Most people (especially teacher, where I live) don't like to feel they are doing the job of a corporate lackey, or helping a monopoly. Microsoft does have a bad rep, not only among geeks. People also don't like to feel that they are being cheated in paying too much for so few.

That, and I was really impressed by wine progresses (under the standard Ubuntu install) these years. Most of your old Windows applications will work better under Ubuntu than under Vista. Even file sharing through netbios/samba worked more easily.

Can anyone explain the link? (2, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 5 years ago | (#26424609)

I clicked the link from the end of the story [boycottnovell.com] and was unable to find anything on that page referring to "Peter Quinn", "Quinn", or even just "Pete".

What information are we supposed to glean from that link?

Re:Can anyone explain the link? (5, Informative)

domatic (1128127) | more than 5 years ago | (#26424683)

A couple of years back, Massachusetts attempted to mandate open formats in state government. ODF was to be the office piece of this and MS pulled every dirty trick in the book to reverse or subvert that up to and including pulling strings to get the people pushing for this pressured to leave.

I suggest "massachusetts odf" as better set of search terms for Google.

Re:Can anyone explain the link? (1)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425011)

Groklaw has an in-depth discussion. Click their search link and look for "Peter Quinn".

Re:Can anyone explain the link? (0, Troll)

Erris (531066) | more than 5 years ago | (#26424755)

Try here [groklaw.net] , and here [groklaw.net] or any of the other fine links here [google.com] .

500 million? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26424649)

That's a ridiculously small figure. Of course there's nothing illegal or unethical happening here so the article is a piece of junk anyways.

let's do lunch (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 5 years ago | (#26424665)

because MS have more experience of wining and dining (and bribing) than generally less dishonest Linux companies?

Re:let's do lunch (4, Interesting)

grcumb (781340) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425231)

because MS have more experience of wining and dining (and bribing) than generally less dishonest Linux companies?

I wouldn't impute any dishonesty to these sales people. Generally speaking, it's not necessary to be dishonest in order to win.

I suspect that most people's conception of the way things work in government (and education in particular) is altogether too jaded. Many people working in education policy do so out of interest and generally show a degree of commitment to the principles of learning and development.

That doesn't mean they're necessarily brilliant, insightful or even competent. Some are, some aren't. But the vast majority of them make decisions in what they consider to be the best interests of the young people under their care.

The folks at Microsoft are smart, organised and effective. The links in the summary documents show that they've got a clear game plan, and the tables attached indicate that they were executing well on it.

Compare that to the work done by FOSS organisations. With the exception of IBM, there's hardly anyone who has established contacts in Education. FOSS is typically touted by mid-level technical folks who have expertise in their field but little political experience. They almost certainly don't have the resources, the planning or the operational intelligence to keep pace with Microsoft.

Add to this the fact that Microsoft is the incumbent, and you'll see that they've got the advantage in almost every respect: resources, position, momentum and intelligence.

Microsoft's played dirty in the past, and they likely will again in the future. I'm only suggesting that it's not necessary to play that way every time.

The corrupt practice in this particular case is dumping, and that decision is being made at the corporate level. While corruption taints everyone who participates in it, that doesn't mean they are suddenly guilty of every manifestation of it all at once.

Key applications (5, Interesting)

lordeveryman (853166) | more than 5 years ago | (#26424697)

At the High School I volunteer at there are key applications that teachers feel they can not do without. One such example is Microsoft Publisher. This is a loathsome application that does not export to any other known publishing application, but is used to teach publishing in the school. :-(
We are making progress though. The school switched to Open Office this year for all but the business lab. I am working with the business lab teachers to get them familiar with Open Office so they can make an informed decision about what software to use in the future.

office suite (5, Funny)

mehtars (655511) | more than 5 years ago | (#26424829)

Maybe its because office suite is simple, easy to use and works very well with graphics embedded within documents.

Re:office suite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26425169)

Oh that is grand! lolz

Re:office suite (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26425197)

HAHAHAHAHAHAhaahehheh*sniff*, good one.

Wait, were you serious? Even with all that "ribbon" crap they've been replacing the menus with?

Save? (1)

speedingant (1121329) | more than 5 years ago | (#26424835)

lol at "the world could save up to $500 million each year".

They wouldn't save money..!! You'd see more principals with the words PIMP in crystal with gold chains hanging around their necks. And happy admins after they move to linux. Ahh... Bliss.

Be glad to have an OS (1)

icepick72 (834363) | more than 5 years ago | (#26424851)

The reality is a lot of computers run Windows and it's not going to be detrimental for kids to learn Microsoft OS, tools and technologies even if it's fun for us to talk about evil tactics and dumping Microsoft. I think a lot of the time Windows gets into schools because it's a consistent and familiar GUI experience. Kids can learn on it -- they have lots of time to make up their own minds when they get old enough, reaching college and university, etc. all kinds of OS's and tools are used. Cost-wise if the budget can support it, then the budge can support it. I'm not going to stop buying Dempster's whole wheat bread for no-name brand until I actually run short on money.

Re:Be glad to have an OS (2, Insightful)

FrostDust (1009075) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425171)

As mentioned in the blog, the main strategy Microsoft is using is to offer licenses for it's OS/software for cheap, or even free, so that the users will be more likely to buy future products from them in the future.

Ideally, people should be learning how to use computers, not Microsoft software. That way, they would be more open minded toward, and technically capable of, using different software when they get the chance to chose. In government (and school) situations, this is important because it's a waste of money to pay for expensive software licences when free and competitive programs are readily available.

In a world where >85% of PCs are using some form of Windows, however, this doesn't put most users at a disadvantage, as they'll probably never be exposed to alternative software besides Firefox. Or, we get people like Mac converts, who treat a non-MS OS device as the relic of some sort of technological messiah, instead of just a computer with different ways of doing things.

More Microsoft is Doomed Retric (4, Informative)

Prep_Styles (564065) | more than 5 years ago | (#26424971)

Now that the cat is out of the bag, it's hard to see what Microsoft can do other than what they did to ...

I like Linux as much as the next guy ( I run it almost exclusively) But seriously how many times do I have to read M$ is doomed! DOOOMMED!

Windows is popular in schools (as is mac) because the experience is more seamless then it is in a flavour of Linux. Schools are not trying to just teach computers to kids, their trying to get them to read, write, perform arithmetical, or other tasks that are SEEN as separate from the computing experience. As soon as you have to explain to teaching staff that Gnome isn't Linux isn't GNU isn't RedHat ... you've lost the case because the teachers are just going to say "This isn't a computer class! Why do I have to learn this!?"

I think Linux would be great is schools but until you have a reasonably seamless experience your not going to get anywhere.

The arguments always come down to cost: "Linux will save you money". Sure it will. But these institutions are used to spending money to get what they think they need. Your not going to win this argument with cost benefits alone, you have to convince them that Linux will do a better job then Windows and Mac and as of right now I don't think that's an easy case to make.

Re:More Microsoft is Doomed Retric (3, Insightful)

maugle (1369813) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425301)

I don't know about you, but my newspapers constantly have articles on how the schools have no budget and the teachers are poor and the buildings are falling apart and yadda yadda yadda.
You'd think they'd jump at a chance to save some cash, no matter how little.

I put Microsoft's continued dominance down to momentum ("everybody uses Microsoft products") and fear ("if I decide to save some cash by moving from Windows to Linux, but the migration fails, we'll be out a lot of time and money and I'll be out on the street").

First... (1)

V!NCENT (1105021) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425005)

First they ignore you, then laugh at you and then hate you. Then they fight you and then you win. When the truth dies, very bad things happen...

- After a song by Robbie Williams

Re:First... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26425289)

First they ignore Microsoft, then laugh at M$ and then hate Microsoft. Then they fight Microsoft and then Microsoft wins.

So what do you all plan to do in our current Microsoft dominated world? I'll come back and check replies after my copy of Windows 7 finishes downloading.

Re:First... (1)

V!NCENT (1105021) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425567)

I plan to wait, as it's only a matter of time before you will be switching to either Linux or a Macintosh. Can't you tell by Microsofts tactics? I don't know if you have been following the developments in the Apple and Linux world (I bet you didn't) but the future for Microsoft is not so bright...

Slashdot's fall from grace. (0, Flamebait)

Jamie's Nightmare (1410247) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425023)

And so it continues.... The "Slashdot" that I have come to know and love over the past 9 years continues to degrade itself by linking to publications such as Boycot Novell [boycottnovell.com] , an amature looking troll-bait website preceded in it's ridiculousness only by one of it's founding authors, Roy Schestowitz [schestowitz.com] . A man who, along with his well known counterpart who wrote the submission above, has been pretty accurately summerized in a previous posting [slashdot.org] .

Re:Slashdot's fall from grace. (1)

onefriedrice (1171917) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425413)

From your ID, I wouldn't have guessed you've been here 9 years, but you're always free to get your news and commentary elsewhere.

Treat Microsoft like the Cable company then. (5, Funny)

AppleOSuX (1080499) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425029)

When your contract with Microsoft is about to run out, just tell them you're switching to Linux. Then you can get more Microsoft products for free.

When Microsoft stops offering freebies, then switch to Linux.

Problem solved.

It's not desperate (1)

Greg_D (138979) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425175)

When you almost always win.

twitter == BoycottNovell Shill (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26425207)

Check his posting history (with all his 40 sock accounts), the guy does nothing but paste links to that blog. Recent example [slashdot.org] . Look at his comments, submissions and journal entries. Aside from "M$" what you'll see are links to that blog. And surprise, it's AdSense-enabled!

I think someone just figured out:

  1. Collect underpants
  2. Bash Microsoft
  3. Profit!

Lame, lame lame.

and OLPC/Negroponte will still think MSFT is good (4, Insightful)

Locutus (9039) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425229)

it shows that nothing has changed at Microsoft in the past 20 years. There is no "new Microsoft", there is no "kinder, gentler Microsoft", and there is no "Microsoft is a friend to open source".

It's all a lie for the purpose of furthering their goal of making sure Windows is the only OS for the vast majority of the populations.

surprise!

LoB

Re:and OLPC/Negroponte will still think MSFT is go (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26425359)

surprise!

Nope, not really surprised or shocked at all.

No more than a leopard or cheetah could change their spots does MS change their behaviors...

Just another bunch o cry babies! (0, Flamebait)

Digital_Mercenary (136288) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425353)

You want a better OS; STFU and build one!

So what? (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425425)

how is this different from what Apple has done since....there was an Apple?

And what the fuck is this, Comrade?

the world could save up to $500 million each year by dumping Microsoft

Imagine the money we could save if we dumped all commercially-produced products? We could totally save a ton of money if we just worked on collective farms and no-one ever made a profit. Way to tie FLOSS to the socialist agenda.

Letting kids into the workplace without MS training is a non-starter. Here's a better idea: Kids well rounded in MS, Mac, and a Linux distro?

rear guard action (2, Informative)

the_B0fh (208483) | more than 5 years ago | (#26425491)

Look at what's happening across the world:

http://knowledge.oscc.org.my/newsletters/first-quarterly-e-newsletter-jan-2009/at_download/file [oscc.org.my]

the government's documented savings is US$10mil last year. And there are numerous undocumented savings, as well as followons, schools are now putting OSS in, etc etc.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?
or Connect with...

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>