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UK Schools Warned Off Microsoft Deal

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the do-not-sign-on-that-dotted-line dept.

Education 337

rs232 sends in a BBC piece on the UK computer agency Becta advising schools against signing up for a Microsoft educational license because of alleged anti-competitive practices. "The problem was that Microsoft required schools to have licenses for every PC in a school that might use its software, whether they were actually doing so or running something else." We have discussed Becta's role in British education here several times as they have acted as a watchdog warning of perceived Microsoft excesses.

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337 comments

Sighing up (4, Funny)

Mikelikus (212556) | more than 6 years ago | (#21151861)

For a minute there, I thought they were making some sort of metaphorical statement.

Re:Sighing up (2, Funny)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21151913)

I think they are subtly stating that MS spell check damages students' ability to spell.

-Peter

Re:Sighing up (2, Funny)

phillips321 (955784) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152195)

I don't often comment, the beers I've drank tonight give me the confidence to say FU Microsoft. I've always dreamt of the day that schools widely adopt *nix as the primary OS, I didn't think I would be fortunate to see it in my lifetime but the way MS is acting gives me more and more security that before the day i die i might actually see *nix as a standard in British schools, smile to all:)

Re:Sighing up (5, Funny)

Lunzo (1065904) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152347)

I was going to moderate the parent, but there's no "-1 Drunk Ramblings" option...

Re:Sighing up (1)

jaxtherat (1165473) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152451)

All fine and good, but TFA doesn't actually mention linux at all, it just mentions saving from using "open source software" like Star Office or Open Office...

Re:Sighing up (2, Funny)

SnoopJeDi (859765) | more than 6 years ago | (#21151937)

Probably a reference to the collective sigh of all /. readers after simultaneously wondering if the editors are illiterate, or if they simply don't read what they post.

Re:Sighing up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21152035)

Dude, you misspelled metaphysical.

Re:Sighing up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21152243)

If you had to sign up for that kind of Microsoft deal, would your sighs be metaphorical?

Happened in NZ with MS Office on Macs... (3, Insightful)

zurtle (785688) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152889)

Slashdot covered a very similar predicament a while ago:
Clicketh [slashdot.org]

Given the timestampdiff between the two it looks like it is taking people a while to wake up to the reality of Microsoft licencing.

Linux (1)

celardore (844933) | more than 6 years ago | (#21151885)

Just another reason why schools and public authorities should be adopting open alternatives.

Re:Linux (1)

Lane Rendell (1163329) | more than 6 years ago | (#21151907)

I agree as well, Linux distros provide the basic functionality that students need and its cheap for schools to use, and harder for a kid to mess with settings and such if its set up right.

Re:Linux (3, Informative)

leenks (906881) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152715)

That's a poor argument. As much as I dislike Windows, it is possible to lock it down so it is barely customisable / tweakable / usable too.

Re:Linux (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152777)

Hehe. No it isnt. With Windows there is *always* another way.
The tricks for getting around some of them are hilariously stupid.

Linux is also very simple to lock down to school standards.
Dont want the buggers to be executing their own programs? One small edit and they cannot execute anything which isnt already on the system.

Also it allows the sys admins to allow a little bit of customization which Windows cannot do easily like program preferences or even changing the background image only for themselves.

Re:Linux (2, Funny)

chromatic (9471) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152985)

You have to lock Windows down to make it barely usable now?

Re:Linux (2, Insightful)

p0tat03 (985078) | more than 6 years ago | (#21151931)

Sort of, kind of, not really? Schools are supposed to teach children skills that they can apply in the real world. One of these skills is keyboarding, and honestly, how many typing training packages have you seen on 'nix? Or even Mac?


Kids' software needs are significantly different from that of adults, with the possible except of a good Office suite, which everybody needs. Where's the equivalent of your doodling software, trivia games, and all that stuff you would find in a primary school computer lab?


While I agree MS's tactics here are pretty low, it doesn't immediately lead us to "switch to Linux", because honestly it's not a viable alternative.


On the other hand, Apple has traditionally had the support of children's software publishers. Maybe they can leverage this situation to their advantage...

Re:Linux (0, Redundant)

ZERO1ZERO (948669) | more than 6 years ago | (#21151951)

MOD PARENT +1 FUNNY!

Re:Linux (1)

Winckle (870180) | more than 6 years ago | (#21151957)

For young children, tux teaches typing is good, a few years ago, I used a kde typing program, though I can't remember what it was called, but it grouped the keys into coloured groups for each finger, which was a cool visual aid.

I use Mac now, so if anyone knows any good programs for os x, post them here!

Re:Linux (2, Informative)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21151989)

How many are you supposed to need?

I know you were trolling, but I have to thank you anyhow. I hadn't thought to look for a touch typing tutor on Linux, but now I have and KTouch looks like it's pretty decent.

Re:Linux (5, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152065)

I hadn't thought to look for a touch typing tutor on Linux, but now I have and KTouch looks like it's pretty decent.

What? The regular 'touch' command isn't good enough for you?

Re:Linux (1)

IceFox (18179) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152287)

I used KTouch to learn how to type on a dvorak keyboard and found it to be a very good app.

Re:Linux (2, Insightful)

freedomlinux (1072142) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152657)

Hey! I practiced my typing with 'touch' and it put tons of empty files all over my /home! grr... buggy software
On a more serious note, KTouch is a useful program, and you will likely find an open-source program equivalent to pretty much everything.

Re:Linux (-1, Flamebait)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152167)

I know you were trolling...
Ahhhhhhh, so you're one of the idiot moderators who defines "trolling" as "I don't agree with your point".

Re:Linux (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152259)

No, I don't ever get mod points any more.

But when I did, I never marked someone 'troll' simply because they're stupid. It takes deliberate intend to be an ass despite even the meanest logic proving them wrong.

You obviously agree with him, so answer me this: What basic apps are missing that a child would need in school? Touch typing isn't one of them, as there are plenty for Linux. Word processing, email, web, spreadsheets... I can't think of anything that would be necessary that linux didn't have years ago. So you tell me what it is instead, and I'll admit he might not have been trolling.

Re:Linux (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152669)

You obviously agree with him
Actually, I neither agree nor disagree. I just don't want to see someone called a troll just for apparent disagreement. I don't know the state of Linux apps as it pertains to school use, nor, as I don't run a school's IT department, am I inclined to find out. The point is, at worst, this guy is misinformed, not a troll.

Re:Linux (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152929)

The point is, at worst, this guy is misinformed, not a troll.

He's not misinformed, unless you consider Bill Hilf's memos as misinformation.

...and there's no -1 Astroturf option, so Troll's the next best choice.

Re:Linux (1, Informative)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 6 years ago | (#21153027)

He's not misinformed
You have no proof of that. Hell, proof aside, you can't even begin to know that. You're guessing at the intent of someone who you probably have never even met before, there's no way to tell.

...and there's no -1 Astroturf option, so Troll's the next best choice.
You know, far too many posters on slashdot are so quick to cry astroturfing. Think about that accusation for half a second. If he's an astroturfer, he's pretty poor at it. He has bad things to say about Microsoft, and even suggests that Apple might be a good alternative. The man says, "Well, Microsoft is bad, sure, but Linux isn't necessarily the best choice," and you cry astroturf? That's the most laughable astroturfing claim I've ever heard. I hope that Microsoft would have more sense than to hire undercover PR guys who would bash their business practices, and promote their competition.

So basically, your "logic" is that anyone that expresses a reservation about Linux must be getting paid to do so. Glad to know that level-headedness still prevails on teh intarwebz.

Re:Linux (1)

soliptic (665417) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152899)

And, ironically, you get modded flamebait for that! Unbelievable...

Re:Linux (0, Offtopic)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 6 years ago | (#21153045)

It's ok, it was worth it. Someone has to call them out, and if I have to burn karma to do it, so be it. Downmodding because you disagree is cowardly, and hurts all of us by encouraging minority viewpoints not to speak up. I realistically can't hope to change these people's poor behavior by chastising them, but it does feel good to vent, so meh.

Here's a start (2, Informative)

zogger (617870) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152031)

Re:Here's a start (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21152077)

bleeding edge? Only like your asshole on the first night in jail. Most cellphones have better specs than that piece of shit.

Re:Linux (4, Informative)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152057)

Kids' software needs are significantly different from that of adults, with the possible except of a good Office suite, which everybody needs. Where's the equivalent of your doodling software, trivia games, and all that stuff you would find in a primary school computer lab?

Actually the vast majority of that type of software runs pretty flawlessly under wine.
Its not generally complex software. I'm sure you could find exceptions, but for every exception that didn't work, you could probably easily find software that did. Its not like there are a shortage of 'doodling' and 'trivia' games to try.

That said, my daughter's kindergarten class has a classic iMac with OS9 on it. And I have no issues with that. Its a suitable machine for what they are doing with it.

It would be absurd for them to have to license XP Professional for it, even if it is a discounted copy.

Re:Linux (4, Insightful)

EvilGrin666 (457869) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152277)

Actually the vast majority of that type of software runs pretty flawlessly under wine.
Ironically, a lot of the software actually runs better under wine than under XP/Vista because it's ancient and crusty 16bit stuff.

Because DUMBLEDORE is a HOMOSEXUAL and a MAC user (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21152333)

Let's leave politics out of the schools please...

Re:Linux (2, Informative)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152397)

Typing training packages? When we were taught to type, we had these things called "books," that we put next to the computer. In fact, I'm pretty sure the book we used was published when the Selectric was new.

Re:Linux (2, Informative)

hedwards (940851) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152403)

Sort of, kind of, not really? Schools are supposed to teach children skills that they can apply in the real world. One of these skills is keyboarding, and honestly, how many typing training packages have you seen on 'nix? Or even Mac?


Kids' software needs are significantly different from that of adults, with the possible except of a good Office suite, which everybody needs. Where's the equivalent of your doodling software, trivia games, and all that stuff you would find in a primary school computer lab?


While I agree MS's tactics here are pretty low, it doesn't immediately lead us to "switch to Linux", because honestly it's not a viable alternative.


On the other hand, Apple has traditionally had the support of children's software publishers. Maybe they can leverage this situation to their advantage...

When I was in school, the only difference between the computers we used and the ones that adults used was that kids were at the keyboards and the particular programs we wanted to use. The typing programs were on computers that were probably 13 or 14 years old, and all of them were still monochrome. Most of them were mid 80s era ibms.

As for typing, there is always http://tuxtype.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net] I haven't used it, but it looks like it is in a similar vein to the typing program I used at home.

Typing programs are really not that hard to design, especially if they are like the ones that were used in my typing class. Basically we would copy on the line below what was printed on screen, and the teacher would yell if we were looking down. The computer would then compare the lines, calculate the time and give a score. Not really that hard to do.

The big issue is that if a student can't afford to purchase Office 2007 on top of the price of a computer, why should they be unable to bring files over to the school computers? The site licensing isn't inherently wrong, it really depends upon how much is being charged, if the price for the total computers is below what the price for just the ones in use, that isn't such a bad thing. The school my mother works for has a site license for a number of programs and they can install that on a huge number of computers without having to account for where each copy is.

Re:Linux (2, Informative)

mackyrae (999347) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152549)

TuxTyping has a rather limited wordlist...at least on the "long word" setting (I haven't tried any of the easy settings). A friend of mine is a high school teacher, though, and he teaches computer science. The "advanced topics" class, where students who've taken a year of programming classes are given the chance to write whatever software they want (basically), has a student who is writing a typing tutor program that is in a game format similar to one the teacher said he remembers. It sounds like it acts like TuxTyping with the falling letters, but you have to type the full word and it won't let you switch until either you get the word wrong or you finish it. TuxTyping, unfortunately, lets you type the letters out of order. Of course, as with all software written in that teacher's classroom, it will be open source for Linux (they use Edubuntu in their school computer lab, so Linux is their natural target OS).

Re:Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21152477)

WTH, my Debian install came with a typing teacher program.

Edubuntu etc. (1)

m2943 (1140797) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152519)

There are entire distributions for kids and schools. One of them is Edubuntu [edubuntu.org] ; there are many others.

Typing tutors have been available on Linux since before Windows or Macintosh even existed.

The biggest problem systems like Linux have is prejudice and ignorance from people like you.

Re:Edubuntu etc. (1)

alshithead (981606) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152793)

"Typing tutors have been available on Linux since before Windows or Macintosh even existed."

Sorry, calling bullshit on you. According to Wikipedia (not a source that is completely unimpeachable) Windows was available in '83 and GNU, a Linux precursor was started in development Jan. 5 of 1984. Macintosh was released in Jan. of '84. So...a typing tutor was created before Win or Mac even though those operating systems were released prior? Anecdotally, I seem to remember using a typing tutor on my Apple II+ that I'm sure ported to Mac. The Apple II+ was released in '79 and I had one in '81 or '82.

From Wikipedia; "The plan for the GNU operating system was publicly announced on September 27, 1983, on the net.unix-wizards and net.usoft newsgroups by Richard Stallman..."Software development began on January 5, 1984, when Stallman quit his job at Massachusetts Institute of Technology so that they could not claim ownership or interfere with distributing GNU as free software.", "The Linux kernel has been marked by constant growth throughout its history. Since the initial release of its source code in 1991...", "In 1983 Microsoft announced its development of Windows, a graphical user interface (GUI) for its own operating system (MS-DOS) that had shipped for IBM PC and compatible computers since 1981.", "Named after the McIntosh variety of apple, the original Macintosh was released on January 24, 1984."

"The biggest problem systems like Linux have is prejudice and ignorance from people like you."

The biggest problem with SOME Linux users is their superior attitude and their ignorance of history. I'm in my 40's and have played with Timex Sinclair, TRS-80, Commodore, Apple II+, III, Lisa, Macs, IBM PC Jr, DOS, all Win flavors, Unix, mainframes, and currently run Ubuntu on my laptop. Don't try and snow us old timers you whippersnapper.

Re:Linux (2, Interesting)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152789)

I believe you missed the real issue of licence that M$ was trying to foist on schools. It was attempting to make M$ licence compulsory for all students regardless of what computers they were using. Say for example schools decided to use the OLPC computer as it fulfils all the necessary requirements for schools, a low cost durable computer with all the required free software needed and specifically targeted at student education.

So while lazy, cheap teachers get the free windows and M$ office at home they are making everybody else pay for all the student licences even when the student's computers aren't and likely wont be using any M$ software. So it is a straight up lie and to be honest your lie is just that as well. The truth is M$ is not a viable option for school use, where you would have to be paying a licence fee for each and every student for the 12 years that are at school amounting to thousands of dollars added to the cost of public schooling, M$ exploiting children yet again.

As for keyboarding, I used a computer everyday at work no touch typing, basically because I had to shift the keyboard around my work, no set location, no touch typing. So you see everybody on the planet employed as secretaries, computer coders and data input operators. Silly me and I though the OLPC XO laptop was already being used with Linux to effectively teach children in schools and that was the real reason behind the new M$=B$ licensing scheme.

Re:Linux (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152823)

KDE has a literately *huge* quantity of educational programs. Everything from typing to astronomy to vocabulary training to maths and science.
Whenever I look in to that folder I'm amazed.

Saying Windows is better for that kind of stuff is stupid.
Windows doesnt have a single educational program on it out of the box.

Linux for schools is nearly a ideal fit.
It makes the sys admin's job a lot easier and there is already a lot of software tailor made for schools.

Re:Linux (2, Interesting)

T-Bone_142 (917711) | more than 6 years ago | (#21153019)

The best way to teach a kid to type is a IM Client. Seriously, i have seen it work for a lot of kids and some of these kids have learning disabilities (like ADD).

Re:Linux (1)

bconway (63464) | more than 6 years ago | (#21151939)

For most of the software schools use, there are no open alternatives. Not every problem is a nail, no matter how much you like your hammer...

Re:Linux (1)

Gideon Fubar (833343) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152169)

ok, give us some examples.. And no, saying that Word doesn't run under *nux is not acceptable.

Re:Linux (1)

Tranzistors (1180307) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152231)

I don't know any educational software provided by Microsoft. They provide platform (Windows) and professional tools (as in, you work with them for living). The rest of software simply use this platform. As someone here already mentioned, wine could be used.

And your nail/hammer analogy is rather pointless without examples - which software needs MS platform? MS Offcie? Visual Basic?

If, for instance, a biology class uses some über Windows depended software, then Windows should be used only on those PCs'.

Re:Linux (5, Informative)

niiler (716140) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152663)

You've got to be kidding me. In addition to the touch typing options mentioned above, there are:

For languages:

For Physics:

For Math:

For geography:

For music:

For Mind-Mapping:

Anyhow, you get the gist. As someone who has taught in both High School and College and whose wife tutors middle schoolers, I can't say that I've seen anything they are running that can't be replaced by linux based code (or in rare cases, by Windows code running on Wine).

I wonder what software they use? (-1, Flamebait)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 6 years ago | (#21151887)

All these people warning schools off signing deals are probably all using Windows.

Only when the people making the decisions start using alternatives, people at home start using alternatives and open standards become the norm will the break from Microsoft be an obvious choice.

Re:I wonder what software they use? (5, Insightful)

NoodleSlayer (603762) | more than 6 years ago | (#21151983)

And if you had simply RTF Summary, not even RTFA, you would have noted that the issue is not whether or not to use Windows, but the draconian, monopolistic terms that Microsoft tries to force on schools with their educational subscription licensing models. The idea that they force schools to buy licenses for every single machine regardless of whether or not it is running Microsoft software is just this side of extortion, and BECTA was simply pointing out that it is not in a school's best interest to sign such terms, and should opt instead for the normal perpetual license that people purchase. Not over whether or not to use Windows (and Office in this case too), at least not in the short term.

Re:I wonder what software they use? (1)

khb (266593) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152253)

Realistically, in most school settings any system that *CAN* run a software package probably will at some point. Evil agendas aside, it makes sense for a vendor to offer a steep discount and then apply it to all possible systems ... it also makes sense for the school so that they aren't accidentally in violation with draconian penalties attaching.

That such a site license also has the side effect of making it more attractive to just run the site licensed software (less to manage) is part of why a software vendor is motivated to offer steep discounts.

It happens in industrial settings and not just for software from Evil Overloads from Rainy locations.

Re:I wonder what software they use? (1)

lakeland (218447) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152825)

The licence terms do not restrict on what the computer 'can' run, they just bill per CPU.

A Mac that is incapable of running the software will also require a licence to run it. I know a school which did not get Macs because the cost of software licences for Microsoft software that the Mac's were incapable of running put the idea over budget, so they bought Toshiba notebooks running Windows instead.

You have a point. Site Licences have existed for a while and sites using them get fewer headaches. They don't generally cost more if you have more computers, but I can see the desire to charge large schools more than small schools.

Re:I wonder what software they use? (2, Informative)

Michael Woodhams (112247) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152509)

I'll play devil's advocate here.

If you buy licenses per-computer where needed, then the school has troubles figuring out what licenses it owns and where they are being used.

If (say) 90% of a school's computers are going to run the MS software, and MS is offering a 20% discount for site licensing, the school wins both in money and in admin hassle by taking the site license, even though some of the computers won't use the paid-for software.

(In this particular case, there is an additional complication that the site licensing is per-year, whereas perpetual licensing is one-time up-front.)

BECTA Says Dump M$. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21152705)

BECTA [did not say] whether or not to use Windows (and Office in this case too), at least not in the short term.


Reading the summary is nice but reading them all is better. If you had followed the links you would have seen that BECTA already said that Windows should not be used [slashdot.org] because free software does everything for much less money [slashdot.org] . Today's lesson was that the seemingly better deal offered by M$ is worse and what they have said previously applies that much more.


Re:I wonder what software they use? (1)

alshithead (981606) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152855)

Thank you for an insightful and finally on-topic post. There is only one issue. MS is requiring that ALL machines in the school have MS licenses regardless of whether or not they use actually MS OS/apps on an individual machine.

Obviously this is an unacceptable requirement for any school. Likewise, this would be unacceptable for a business and an attempt to apply this towards schools could...(tinfoil hat on) be a precursor to trying to press additional license requirements on businesses.

Re:I wonder what software they use? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21152089)

rather than making idiotic statements like that, you should first RTFA.

Educational License? (5, Informative)

bazald (886779) | more than 6 years ago | (#21151899)

FTA:

It reminds schools they are legally obliged to have licensed software, but suggests they use instead what is known as "perpetual licensing".
Becta is just suggesting they continue to buy software rather than "moving to Microsoft's School Agreement subscription licensing model" even though it may be more expensive initially. This is because under the subscription licensing model, "Microsoft required schools to have licenses for every PC in a school that might use its software, whether they were actually doing so or running something else."

Re:Educational License? (5, Interesting)

EvilGrin666 (457869) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152191)

I am a network manager in a UK school. So I do have a little knowledge on this subject. If anyone wishes to read up on exactly what a 'Schools Agreement' license entails they can do so here [microsoft.com] and/or here [pugh.co.uk] . If you want to get a feel for how much this scheme costs a school have a look at this thread [edugeek.net] or this one [edugeek.net] on EduGeek.

Unavoidable Irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21152301)

In this day and age, such a licensing scheme would mean a license for every single machine from every vendor, including HP, Dell, and Apple. Are there any personal computers being manufactured today that cannot run windows?

Hmm... again, the article is.... slashdotish (5, Informative)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 6 years ago | (#21151947)

MS has 2 kind of educational licenses. In sweden they are called Select and campus. Select is the normal license: you install a MS product and you pay for it. Easy and every part is happy.

THE OTHER ONE IS: You pay for all your machines OR users (you can choose the license type). Say , you have 30 users. You pay some ammount of money. Then you have the right to install every MS product for those users in every machine in the university/college/scool, etc AND at home as well. Of course, if you dont use MS at home you are still paying, but this is the agreement. And the prices are MUCH lower than on Select. But nobody is forcing you to agree with this license. Use the old goos Select (pay by installed produts) and thatä's all and well. Of course, this being slashdot, we need our daily article odf env^z^z^z... hate.

Re:Hmm... again, the article is.... slashdotish (2, Funny)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152339)

MS has 2 kind of educational licenses...
Yes, the 'give us your first born' and 'fork over your mortal soul' licenses

Why haven't schools switched to all Linux? (4, Insightful)

webmaster404 (1148909) | more than 6 years ago | (#21151967)

Why haven't schools switched to all Linux? Linux teaches students about computers Windows teaches students how to use Windows If someone learned UNIX 10 years ago, they could pick up a modern Linux distro and have little trouble with it, if you take someone who learned Windows 98 and put them on a Vista system, they would be confused and have no clue how to do the most basic things. Same thing with Office, if a UNIX student learned on vi, they could edit text files with ease on a Linux system, take someone who learned on Word 97 and put them on a Word 2007 machine and they would be confused. Not to mention practically anyone knows how to check e-mail, surf the web and get around an operating system, that doesn't get you ahead, now if someone knows PHP, Perl and Server Administration, they could be an entry-level sysadmin for a small company, while the other student would be more or less a data entry clerk, Windows leads to more dependence on MS products, Linux leads to more solutions and more opportunities.

Re:Why haven't schools switched to all Linux? (2, Insightful)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152123)

You know, those are really good points that one usually doesn't see flying around here...

Re:Why haven't schools switched to all Linux? (3, Insightful)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152147)

That's not true at all. There are people (generally speaking) who learn by figuring things out for themselves, and there are people who learn by memorizing procedures. Those who figure things out for themselves will have no trouble going from Windows to any other OS, especially not another Windows OS. Those who memorize procedures will be just as confused going from Linux to anything else as they would be going from Windows to Linux. The weak link here is the people, it has nothing to do with the environment they use.

Re:Why haven't schools switched to all Linux? (5, Insightful)

PhysicsPhil (880677) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152173)

Why haven't schools switched to all Linux? Linux teaches students about computers Windows teaches students how to use Windows If someone learned UNIX 10 years ago, they could pick up a modern Linux distro and have little trouble with it, if you take someone who learned Windows 98 and put them on a Vista system, they would be confused and have no clue how to do the most basic things. Same thing with Office, if a UNIX student learned on vi, they could edit text files with ease on a Linux system, take someone who learned on Word 97 and put them on a Word 2007 machine and they would be confused. Not to mention practically anyone knows how to check e-mail, surf the web and get around an operating system, that doesn't get you ahead, now if someone knows PHP, Perl and Server Administration, they could be an entry-level sysadmin for a small company, while the other student would be more or less a data entry clerk, Windows leads to more dependence on MS products, Linux leads to more solutions and more opportunities.

I must take exception to this. Yes, if someone knows PHP, Perl and Server Administration they could be an entry level sysadmin. Or they could not know anything about them (well PHP and Server stuff) and become a physicist like me. This is a school setting we're talking about, and they have to train more than just computer users. Students shouldn't have to learn vi in order to type out a book report, nor should they need to know about server administration in order to use a web browser to research said report. The computer is a tool, something to make things easier, not an end unto itself. I think we forget that on Slashdot sometimes.

Speaking from experience, a person who can use Word 97 will have little difficulty adapting to Word 2007, nor will they have much difficulty using OpenOffice for all of the basic stuff that 95% of us use it for. You are correct that Windows teaches someone how to use Windows, much as *nix teaches someone how to use another *nix flavour. The person who picked up Windows 95 is not going to have trouble with WinXP, and the person who learned Unix ten years ago will pick up Ubuntu just fine today.

Much like we don't need to understand how a car works to use it, we can be perfectly productive computer users without knowing about the nitty gritty details. Would it help? Sure, sometimes, but we have to weigh the time spent learning those details against the time that could be spent learning other useful things (physics, perhaps?). Switching to *nix just to expose people to the internals of a computer OS isn't necessarily doing them any favours.

Re:Why haven't schools switched to all Linux? (1)

troicstar (1029086) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152567)

Students shouldn't have to learn vi in order to type out a book report

Just imagine if they did. perhaps they'd forgo the idiotic preocupation of font selection, color and layout that modern word processors distract our students with.

Re:Why haven't schools switched to all Linux? (1)

thegrassyknowl (762218) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152227)

If someone learned UNIX 10 years ago, they could pick up a modern Linux distro and have little trouble with it, if you take someone who learned Windows 98 and put them on a Vista system, they would be confused and have no clue how to do the most basic things.

Some will argue that's because Unix systems are backwards and do not incorporate the latest whiz-bang feature that users need today. I don't argue becuase Unix-y systems are built on a tried and true ideas that have mostly stood the test of time.

Microsoft buys into whatever they think will sell their OS in the short term - add a feature here, some eye candy there, make it incompatible with previous releases, so on. People are really forced to upgrade to if it they want to keep running Windows. Unix-y systems are less like that - at least the API is mostly porable across any one of them.

I'm just glad that someone is thinking about what MS is offering rather than just blindly accepting it as the holy grail of computers and paying their "tax"

Re:Why haven't schools switched to all Linux? (2, Interesting)

Bazman (4849) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152247)

Because the idiots are winning, to quote Dan Ashcroft. We geeks may have spent the last 15 years telling people how Windows and proprietary software sucks so badly, yet still they buy it.

This week someone in my department had a problem reading and editing equations in a Word DOC file in OpenOffice. And then he tried genuine Microsoft Word and still had problems. Turned out the equations were done using 'Mathtype', some extra add-on for Word. "Doing it wrong!", I cried, "why is anyone writing papers chock-full of equations in Word anyway? Use LaTeX like everyone else in the department. It's free, it produces nicer papers, it is just beautiful."

So they asked for my advice, and it was 'use LaTeX'. What they did: buy more MathType licenses.

I'm thinking of starting a policy of not helping anyone who asks for tech support in our department and then does something else. I'm speccing up two labs with about 50 seats this week. I'm recommending 50 thin clients and 5 fat servers just to make it manageable. If the suit overrules this and says 'no, no, no, just put 50 desktop boxes in' then I'm not supporting it - to the extent of quitting the project. The idiots are not winning this one (although the servers will of course be running Win TS 2003 as well as Linux).

I'm not sure how we can stop the idiots from winning - MS will up their muscle in the fight, since they fatten up the idiots in order to feed off them. Or is it more like giving them free heroin and getting them hooked and then charging for the next fix. It's idiocy whatever way you cut it.

End of Sunday night before Monday Work Rant.

[Dan Ashcroft was a character in Nathan Barley...]

Re:Why haven't schools switched to all Linux? (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152721)

People think of their computer much like a toaster or their microwave. They have no idea how it works, they have no wish to know how it works anymore than they would their microwave. It's very disturbing really, that the vast majority of people have absolutely no idea how any part of their computer works... It is entirely due to everything being done for them. Look at how windows is normally set up- they don't need to know how to install it. If anything goes wrong they buy a new computer instead of fixing it. Windows software is bundled with the OS, Internet Explorer, Word, Excel etc. though most of those are trials which inevitably people end up buying MS office because they don't bother to find anything else. People like routine, even if they end up doing a lot more work in the end getting Windows to do what they want, it is what they know. No amount of scolding on we geek's part will change that unless something makes them realise the needless hassle they had to endure dealing with proprietary software. chances of that happening? If the EU actually starts kicking MS's ass once in a while that may actually happen. Not much of a chance of it happening here though.

Re:Why haven't schools switched to all Linux? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21152251)

"Why haven't schools switched to all Linux?"

Because the school IT support is crap. Even by the usual low IT standards the people employed are poorly paid imbeciles. They are of lower ability than the sales guys at PC World. How do I know this? My sister is a teacher and I have to help her undone the stupid things they do to her laptop. One time they locked down the laptops so tightly that the users couldn't even save files into their own My Documents directory. The teachers are given laptops so they can take them home to do lesson plans and so forth on them. What the fuck is the point of having a laptop you can't save anything to. The laptops are not kept patched and a whole primary school gets a visit from an IT guy once every two weeks. So even when they are there they don't have time to half the things that need doing. Imagine how bad it is at a secondary school that has umpteen student using computers to visit myspace. Just the thought of that makes me shudder.

The current IT school people (outsourced or otherwise) couldn't cope with Linux and the government (local or central) sure isn't going to pay to get people that know what they are doing or retrain the ones they have.

Re:Why haven't schools switched to all Linux? (1)

SamP2 (1097897) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152281)

Why haven't schools switched to all Linux? Linux teaches students about computers Windows teaches students how to use Windows
No. Linux teaches students about Unix-like computers. Your statement only follows insofar that most popular non-Windows computers are Unix-like.

Linux tends to be used by more computer-savvy people than Windows, so it is no wonder that most Linux users would indeed feel comfortable around ANY OS. But just because a higher proportion of Linux people are smart with computers than Windows people, it does not follow that it is LINUX which provides that advantage. In other words, people use Linux because they are smart, NOT people are smart because they use Linux.

Imagine that you have two identical people who are equally interested or disinterested in computers, and train one in Linux (and NOTHING but Linux) and the other in Windows (and NOTHING but Windows), and assume they both don't care about anything else and won't do any research other than just use the system for basic tasks (so you don't have the Linux geek browsing tech sites while the Windows dork plays Solitaire all day).

Then take them both and put them infront of, say, an Apple OSX (nearest major mid-ground OS I can think of, it has Unix-like internals but more of Windows-like GUI). I fail to see the Linux guy have a substantial advantage over the Windows guy.

Re:Why haven't schools switched to all Linux? (1)

ClubStew (113954) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152365)

Now that's total BS. Copying files, starting applications, and typing text works the same on pretty much every machine. UI differences between Win98 and Vista are asthetic; dragging and dropping files works the same way. And vi?! Seriously. I love vim but it's hardly a good document publishing package. Where's the formatting kids see everyday in media?

Be serious and took an objective look at platforms. Basic operations are the same across platforms, and schools teach students how to use computers - not about computers. Most student will never need to know about 1s and 0s, what a bus is, etc. - they need to know how to use computers in the real works...that is running mostly on Windows anyway. And the educational software - as someone else pointed out above - is mostly written for Windows and Mac anyway.

Linux does not teach students about computers ... (2, Insightful)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152433)

Why haven't schools switched to all Linux? Linux teaches students about computers Windows teaches students how to use Windows

No. Linux and Windows are equivalent in the sense that neither teaches students about computers, they both teach students about an operating system.

if a UNIX student learned on vi, they could edit text files with ease on a Linux system

Again, Linux and Windows are far more alike than you claim. The student who learned DOS EDIT can open a console and run EDIT under Windows.

More importantly, much open source software (OpenOffice, GIMP, Apache, MySQL, ...) is also available for Windows.

Schools should not be teaching Windows or Linux. Neither is appropriate. Common business and productivity tools are appropriate, but only to the degree that a student could write and print an essay, solve some math problems with a spreadsheet, etc. Expertise in such tools should be reserved for some sort of business class. Teaching kids to be admins is *not* something K-12 education should be doing. We have already stolen too much time from basic reading, writing, arithmetic, and science.

Re:Why haven't schools switched to all Linux? (1)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152773)

Hmm, the fact that *NIX hasn't changed in 10 years is supposed to be a good thing? The average user has become much more suffisicated. Eg, my beater PC ca 1998 has a 2 button mouse with a scroll wheel, that was the cool newish interface item at the time. Now people have more like 5 buttons on their mouse, twice as many USB devices (at least). The fact that the GUI paradigm for *NIXs has survived from 1984 is telling. *NIX historically has been computer focused not user focused. Run fast and stable and the user will want to figure it out.

Windows historically may have gone too much the other way, burn through performance, to make things pretty, and simple. If it is prettier on your system people will develop for it. Now they've moved that to the development paradigm as well with Visual Studio being JIT centric, and moves to replace MFC with .Net libraries.

Who will win? I'm voting for MS at least for another 10 years, the normal user will throw RAM and GHz at the problem, and have things pretty. They also probably will be willing to throw a few hundred every few years at MS for the latest and greatest, or pirate a copy. When computers were more of a hobby for the home user it was a pain to shell that out, but now that it is most people main entertainment and part of their work, it is easier to justify. It will be interesting who supports multi-core better in 10 years, historically the science and engineering folks were the ones writting concurrent/parallel apps.

Since when is Microsoft the law? (4, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 6 years ago | (#21151991)

> "The problem was that Microsoft required schools to have licenses for every PC in a school that might use its software, whether they were actually doing so or running something else."

Microsoft can't "require" this. Same as the BSA or CAAST can't just show up at your doorstep and "require" anything. Not even a "license audit."

Good for Becta.

There are different definitions of "require." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21152601)

The alternative, of course, would be that MS performs a full audit, and if they find anything, even legal software for which the school can't find the receipt, they will force the school to pay fines and the full cost of the audit, which can cost many tens of thousands of dollars (or the equivalent in pounds sterling).

So yeah, MS can "require" it.

Re:There are different definitions of "require." (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152961)

And how exactly are they going to "force" this? Such things require legal documents, Microsoft has no power to waltz in and demand anything. I bought it, it's mine, YOU prove otherwise. Have your lawyers call my lawyers. Anyway, businesses that don't keep licenses and receipts are idiots.

WTF?? (0, Flamebait)

dupup (784652) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152049)

required schools to have licenses for every PC in a school that might use its software, whether they were actually doing so or running something else

wankers

Re:WTF?? (2, Informative)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152635)

I love the fact that the word wankers can result in a +1 Informative.

Idiots.

From TFA (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21152069)

The UK computer agency Becta is advising schools not to sign licensing agreements with Microsoft because of alleged anti-competitive practices.
[snip]
A Microsoft spokesperson said: "We want to reassure our customers, partners and the education sector that it is business as usual."
Indeed...

Re:From TFA (0, Troll)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152185)

Exactly. I am one of the software responsibles in my department at a large university of Sweden. We have 2 agreements with MS, one with Adobe, one with Apple, one with Symantec, one with Marratech, to chose from. And nobody obligates you to sign any of them. Hell, I know 2 departments that are 100% apple and one that is 100% solaris. My department is now using Microsoft Campus agreement and the prices are very human, actually (and not THAT scary like the Apple agreement, may I add, but that my friends is another story).

Re:From TFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21152441)

I love reading all of this Slash Dot stuff-so anti MS. Does anyone in the world not see Google or Apple's monopolistic deal with ATT for the I-Phone and make somewhere around $800.00 US on each phone? MS is bad? Why do they have to share codecs and noone else has to? Why did MS develope the C languages when Sun would not license Java so MS could rewrite code? Why does Adobe not license products directly to MS for Windows. Get off your MS hate High Horses and express the truth of the computing world- It is ALL about big business, big money and killing the competition. PERIOD. I have 3 desktops and a laptop with: Vista, XP Pro 64, SUSE,Debian and Mac.And the easiest to use and learn? ta dah::::: XP PRO so get over MS and get on with your little squirrely lives. Bash Bush, Chavez, Putin, Ahmanijad, Morales,or whoever else and change the world instead of complaining about non-issue companies

Huh? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21152075)

Most schools I work depend mostly on crap from RM, and if lucky the admin can buy some shit like Dell. E-learning credits to blame...

The machines bought have always had older hardware for their time, and are a nightmare to administer. Made even worse that as ad admin there is no decent install cds - all restore discs. great.

Many of these places I`m probably the only person that is aware of licensing and paying for each install etc... but unless it's some shit sent in by one of the many education software companies to review it's near on impossible to get permission to get money released. Had to laugh when we needed a server license for a network file share (cos xp max 10 limit) when all the old 95/98 did it anyway.

rant rant rant too jaded but it's all bollocks in education over here. I just can`t imagine a situation where IT would install an OS wide spread without a hardware change. Education was better off with old computers before all this funding started getting mis spent. Spending most of my times filling holes and fixing stupid crap rather than developing.

yadda yadda yadda

Intel Macs (5, Insightful)

bazald (886779) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152163)

I already replied above, but on an unrelated note, it just occurred to me that this license would brilliantly require schools to pay Microsoft subscription fees for all their macs with Intel CPUs. As education is one area where Macs are close to dominant, this is a brilliant move. Kudos.

Re:Intel Macs (1)

_merlin (160982) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152629)

If you read how the license is worded, it requires you to pay for a license for every computer in your organisation, whether it's capable of running the software or not. You have to pay for Windows licenses for your PowerPC Macs - not just the Intel ones.

Re:Intel Macs (1)

bazald (886779) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152675)

Ah yes, you make a good point... or they make a good point. Any computational device with enough memory should be able to emulate an Intel CPU based computer and could potentially be used to run Microsoft products. So, PowerPC Macs, PS3s, PSPs, and anything else that has been hacked to run an emulator could very well need a license.

A UK School Sys Admin's Response... (4, Insightful)

nbannerman (974715) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152215)

Well I'm a Sys Admin / Network Manager in a school in the UK.

Truth of the matter is I have approximately 2% of the school budget made available to me; this equates to about £150,000. Using that money, I run a 2000+ user network, with nearly 750 attached devices (thin clients, fat clients, printers, etc).

I run an almost entirely Microsoft shop - 2000/2003/Exchange/XP/XPe, with Office 2003 / Encarta / Project as well. In terms of non-MS OS, take your pic from Debian, Thinstation and a host of Linux-based thin client devices (Neoware, Wyse, etc).

My Microsoft licensing costs come in at around £12,000 per year, this also includes my terminal service licensing. Is that a lot? Not really - the buy price for 650+ copies of XP, Office, plus CALs for Exchange, 2003 and Terminal Services is prohibatively high imho.

BECTA can complain about the terms of the agreement, and suggest we spend our money 'up front', but unless they are going to provide funding, I'm afraid to say I'll stick with the Schools Agreement for now.

I'd love to have the money to buy outright, don't get me wrong. But for a school with a relatively low income (ie our students come from a high socio-economic area) I simply can't afford to do it - £12,000 a year is however a manageable cost.

Re:A UK School Sys Admin's Response... (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152401)

What would it cost you to go Open Source?

Re:A UK School Sys Admin's Response... (4, Informative)

nbannerman (974715) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152483)

It would cost nothing in terms of hardware and software.

What would it cost to migrate, in terms of staff / student training? What would it cost to get my two technicians up to spend on OSS? What would it cost to migrate?

The truth of the matter is there are three ICT staff at the college - myself and two technicians. Running a 2000+ user network is one thing; running that network and migrating to a completely new way of doing things is something you don't undertake lightly.

I'm getting there - slowly. I'm pushing for thin clients to start with - reducing our dependancy on 'the latest and greatest' hardware. The next thing will be to replace the 2003 Terminal Services with linux-based ones. One step at a time - thats the plan.

Re:A UK School Sys Admin's Response... (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152591)

> The truth of the matter is there are three ICT staff at the college - myself and two technicians. Running a 2000+ user network is one thing;
> running that network and migrating to a completely new way of doing things is something you don't undertake lightly.

Especially when the technicians are likely to see it as deskilling. What's the point of learning something that's of next to no use to you in your next job?

Re:A UK School Sys Admin's Response... (1)

pbhj (607776) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152951)

>>> Especially when the technicians are likely to see it as deskilling. What's the point of learning something that's of next to no use to you in your next job?

So what you're saying is there's no demand for people who can help move a 2000 person userbase to OSS (and support MS stuff during transition)? You ever read any stories here about companies using Linux ever? No, guess not ...

Re:A UK School Sys Admin's Response... (1)

caluml (551744) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152613)

That's a nice website [chex-uk.net] you've got there. It'd be a shame if anything... Oh, wait, it has.

Warning: Unknown: open_basedir restriction in effect. File(/home/kweilo/public_html/index.html) is not within the allowed path(s): (/home/chex-uk/:/usr/lib/php:/usr/local/lib/php:/tmp) in Unknown on line 0 Warning: Unknown: failed to open stream: Operation not permitted in Unknown on line 0 Fatal error: Unknown: Failed opening required '/home/kweilo/public_html/index.html' (include_path='.:/usr/lib/php:/usr/local/lib/php') in Unknown on line 0

Re:A UK School Sys Admin's Response... (1)

nbannerman (974715) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152647)

Heh, yeah, I know. The wonders of free hosting from a mate - when the box goes down for some reason you feel a bit guilty asking them to fix it...

It's about licensing fraud (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21152249)

MS requires these kinds of deals because otherwise people buy a couple of licenses and illegally install Windows everywhere. No one cares about Linux.

Re:It's about licensing fraud (1)

Lokitoth (1069508) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152379)

Not even that; the license in question gives those paying for it the *right* (which is all a license can give) to install these products on any machine that the license is paid for. Because the terms are set such that any machine the school owns that supports the software is included, the school must pay Microsoft for all those computers - in return they get access to an unlimited number of binaries and the right to install and run them on those computers. To offset the issue that the school might not want to run a Microsoft solution on all those machines, or might want to run only a subset of a Microsoft solution on any one of those machines, the price for the license is significantly lower than buying (up front) the same quantity of licenses. Note here, is that the same quantity would be a full Device CAL for each machine (for the servers), the Servers themselves (for each machine) and the client software for each machine. Microsoft *requires* this because they do not want to deal with the issues of sublicensing and trusting those buying licenses of their software from abusing the terms of their licenses. Historically, there has been a problem with piracy of the Microsoft platform, and they are dealing with it in one of the possible ways. Is this an ideal solution? Probably not. Would I argue against the statement that certain anti-competitive practices by Microsoft ecouraged aforementioned piracy? No. I wholeheartedly support the association warning the schools that the alternative should be considered. At the end of the day, I want the best education for my family, which means spending less resources for a particular solution. Merely because Linux is a "free" solution does not mean that fewer resources need to be spent to set up and administer the infrastructure. The schools decided to get a Microsoft solution - now it is up to them to determine which of the available terms that Microsoft offers is better for them.

This is just like... (1)

MeditationSensation (1121241) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152351)

...paying for the MS license for the Windows installed on OEM machines, whether the user ends up using it or not (e.g. installs Linux instead).

Re:This is just like... (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152495)

No, its not, because the schools explicitely pick this deal, and do so willingly. Why? Well, it is simply MUCH, MUCH easier for everyone (including the school).

The whole "paying for all computers, even those not using Windows" is simply a metric to gauge an "unlimited license" pricing, so to speak. The school pays a number that scales depending on the amount of computers they have (and its MUCH -MUCH- less than normal educational pricing. I repeat, MUCH less, so the computers that won't be using Windows ARE factored in the quote!), they pay up, and they never have to manage those licenses ever again.

Much, MUCH easier. Its not very different from how most serious Windows development shops will take MSDN licenses over development licenses separately. They end up "Paying for ALL the softwares in MSDN", even though they will only use a TINY FRACTION (5% at most usually!) of the softwares there, but its MUCH easier to manage for everyone, and overall its often cheaper.

Again: the idea is that they pay by the size of the computer infrastructure, not "for all computers" (even if it ends up being the same, the idea is very different), and the price considers that Windows won't be install on all of it. I'm nowhere CLOSE to rich, and I could probably pay -CASH- for the price most schools pay for THE ENTIRE SCHOOL. So you're not "REALLY" paying for every computers. Its just a way to keep the agreement simple.

Sighing? (1)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152465)

For chrissakes, people. Are you trying to mock yourselves?

Sock Water? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21152599)

This reminds me of the whole sock water incident.

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=sock+water [urbandictionary.com]

This is unbelievable (1)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152639)

From TFA: "Microsoft required schools to have licences for every PC in a school that might use its software, whether they were actually doing so or running something else."

Unbelievable. As a UK tax-payer, I want the name of every moron in the UK school system that decided to force schools to use Microsoft products even knowing this.

Re:This is unbelievable (1)

nbannerman (974715) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152695)

Well I am one of those 'morons' - and there are a few good reasons (my comment further up explains some of them) why I choose to use the school agreement - and if there was a cheaper / easier way of doing it, I guarantee you I would be using it.

Unless you are lucky enough to be a Grammar school, or an Academy, your ICT funding is always embarrassingly low - we crimp and save wherever possible just to keep things running.

Re:This is unbelievable (3, Interesting)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 6 years ago | (#21152731)

Afaict the situation goes something like.

An educational establishment has lots of PCs running various versions windows and various versions of various software some MS, some none MS, some legit, some pirate. This is a management nightmare but paying regular prices to upgrade everything would be cost prohibitive. MS comes along and offers windows and office at a very steep discount and with the right to use any version you want (the windows OS part is upgrade/downgrade only but since virtually all machines come with an OEM windows license that is not really a major issue).

However to get the products at this discount they have to sign up to terms that are not very nice. The license cost is based on some factor other than the number of machines running windows (for schools I belive it is total number of PCs, for universities I think it is total students or something like that). So there is no financial incentive to move individual machines to free software. Further the deals are often subscription based so the institution has to keep paying even if they have no desire to upgrade.

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