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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