UK Schools warned to avoid a Microsoft deal

The UK computer agency Becta is advising schools that are considering moving to Microsoft's School Agreement subscription not to sign licensing agreements with Microsoft because of alleged anti-competitive practices. The agency reminds schools they are legally obliged to have licensed software, but suggests they use instead what is known as "perpetual licensing", which gives the permanent right to use the software and requires no ongoing payments beyond the purchase price. The advantage to schools in using a subscription service such as Microsoft's is the smaller, annual payments. However, a spokesman for Becta emphasized that that Microsoft required schools to have licences for every PC in a school, whether they use the software or not.

The government agency has complained to the Office of Fair Trading, saying talks with Microsoft have not resolved "fundamental concerns" about academic licensing and about Office 2007 and the Vista operating system. The agency hopes that by referring the case to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), "Microsoft will move promptly to address the issues raised". If schools have already signed up with Microsoft, Becta says "they should consider their renewal and their buyout options" alongside any findings the OFT may make.

News source: BBC News

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21 Comments

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I would say that a very high percentage of school children will use Windows at home, so why make things difficult for them by making them use something different at school!

It sounds like MS should change their licensing scheme though - which they probably will if schools decide to pull out.

I fully object to tax payers money paying for a licence for this software when the schools would do FAR MORE to advance computer LEARNING by installing a free os like LINUX... let's face it kid are going to grow up knowing how to use windows anyway, so why cripple them more by not teaching them about other os's?.. all the education system will be "teaching" kids is how to use windows.. and paying tax payer's money for the privelige..

The installation of linux only os's would also do alot to address piracy using public resourses.

Foub said,
You can still download music, and movies with Linux.....

its easier to restrict than lamedows... although rootkits would become way more common lol

n_K said,

its easier to restrict than lamedows... although rootkits would become way more common lol

Lamedows, lol. How old are you? 12? My old school used Windows for everything and I personally think that is the correct option considering 99% of school leavers are only going to be exposed to it; very few will have a job centred around different OS'. My mums primary school (5-11 for you US guys) only uses Macs and have since gone through an expensive switch to PC only. Although some argue Macs are easier to pick up and play, so to speak, the kids that went on to high school were severely lagging as they had never had exposure to Windows before, not even at home (the school is an all Muslim intake in quite a strict religious area where very few of the parents even use one).

So, M$ is going back to the contract which made them in the first place. That is to require manufacturers to pay a royalty, on each machine they made, whether they included a copy of Windows or not.

It cost my (old) school $7 to license Windows XP for every single computer in the school. That's about 400 computers.

you know, this was at my ****ty school, we had to do a database so i did mine in about a week in PHP & MySQL, and the ****ers said it had to be in that piece of ****, microsoft sodding access, so i spent 2 years converting into that abizmul program - and it still didnt bloody work!
screw micro**** and all there deals, whens that company finally gonna fail!!!! GRRR

Yea sure...
Access is easy to use, and the teacher should have shown you how anyway.

I know my old secondary school only ever used windows, and the college I went to only used windows and a few macs.
How many schools in the UK have/want/need a higher percent of linux computers????

HawkMan said,
If you couldn't convert a simple DB to Access and make it work in 2 years... yeah the problems isn't with Access...

the database was easy, but with php, you can store the p/w in mysql or config files and login from anywhere, with access you are limited to one computer unless you use sql express, which they also didnt let me use! and you can get the p/w of the database very easily, you can avoid the menus by opening the database, closing it and reopening it, avoid custom logins by disallowing macros and VB... only a stupid business would use a standard access database with like 5 or more people... if someone wants to make a dodgy macro, oh guess what, you can get the Jet SP5 and stop dodgy macros but there are exploits that can be used all over it... And PHP is free, MySQL is free for the comunity version compared to lamesoft office which is very pricy. Not only that but with PHP, you can use `relational databases` with ease, select the record and do a mysql query but with access.... pf you have to go through so much **** to get a system that bearly works, and accessing only 1 table per form, absolutely stupid and so limiting, the list of how rubbish access is never ends

n_K said,
... whinging crap snipped

Yeah, Access has limitations. But it wasn't designed for more than 5 concurrent connections. So you don't have more than 5 concurrent connections. Quite simple really.
All the "get around login screens" bibble is avoided by a simple VB wrapper that connects to the database, much like your beloved PHP "front end". This also gets around the concurrent connections limit unless you suck at coding and leave objects lying around.
MySQL is just as relational as Access. You've still got to arse about with JOINs just like anywhere else. These can be parked in query objects (which can even have parameters, woot!).
"Accessing only 1 table per form"? Rubbish. <rhetorical>Do you even understand the concepts behind DAO / ADO?</rhetorical>

a spokesman for Becta emphasized that that Microsoft required schools to have licences for every PC in a school, whether they use the software or not.
That stinks. I suppose if they can get a price credit for that amount, then there wouldn't be as much of a problem with licensing.

Sounds just like normal contract negotiation stuff to me.

Agreed. Although if I were MS, I'd give software to schools for free. If every school uses it, then they'll cause corporations to continue using it.

mrmckeb said,
Agreed. Although if I were MS, I'd give software to schools for free. If every school uses it, then they'll cause corporations to continue using it.

well i wouldn't say giving it to schools completely free would be the right thing... just give them huge ass discounts...

GP02X said,

well i wouldn't say giving it to schools completely free would be the right thing... just give them huge ass discounts...

That's what happens in NSW. The DET has a software assurance agreement that covers every school in the state so we get it for free essentially.

I think that the problem with Microsoft forcing everyone to have a licence on all PCs (rather than recognising that people may want to use Linux or some other alternative) was challenged in America years ago. Anyway it's stupid how here in the UK the government and so many institutions run with Microsoft without considering other options. Whose tax money goes into Microsoft's bank in such cases? Everyone's. They should just do what they did in Russia, make all schools switch to Linux.

James7 said,
They should just do what they did in Russia, make all schools switch to Linux.
They haven't gotten further than planning and quoting stages. They are having area businesses make plans, and will be doing some test cities. But they haven't switched anything yet.