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Education Microsoft

UK Schools Warned Off Microsoft Deal 337

Posted by kdawson
from the do-not-sign-on-that-dotted-line dept.
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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UK Schools Warned Off Microsoft Deal

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  • Sighing up (Score:4, Funny)

    by Mikelikus (212556) on Sunday October 28, 2007 @06:16PM (#21151861)
    For a minute there, I thought they were making some sort of metaphorical statement.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by pete-classic (75983)
      I think they are subtly stating that MS spell check damages students' ability to spell.

      -Peter
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by phillips321 (955784)
        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: (Score:3, Funny)

      by SnoopJeDi (859765)
      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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by value_added (719364)
        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.

        Few read the articles, many don't read even the summary (see the recent "Apple Makes $831 On Each AT&T iPhone"), few make use of the preview button, and our editors don't read the submissions. I wonder what it is any of us are doing here?

        Slashdot is the graffiti on technology's bathroom wall.

        Discuss.
        • "Slashdot is the graffiti on technology's bathroom wall."

          'Though They paint these walls to stop my pen, the Shithouse Poet has struck again!'

          I cannot properly attribute this, but I did see it in my high school restroom in 1974.

          BTW, that line of yours would make a great /. sig, IMHO!

          "I wonder what it is any of us are doing here?"

          Yeah, it can seem like that quite often, but for me...
          I have learned some neat stuff here, some not so neat stuff(goatse I'm looking at you-aghhh!), and have heard a lot of useless s
    • 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.
  • Educational License? (Score:5, Informative)

    by bazald (886779) <bazald&zenipex,com> on Sunday October 28, 2007 @06:20PM (#21151899) Homepage
    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."
  • by El Lobo (994537) on Sunday October 28, 2007 @06:28PM (#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: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Foofoobar (318279)

      MS has 2 kind of educational licenses...
      Yes, the 'give us your first born' and 'fork over your mortal soul' licenses
  • by webmaster404 (1148909) on Sunday October 28, 2007 @06:32PM (#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: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by X0563511 (793323)
      You know, those are really good points that one usually doesn't see flying around here...
    • by bigstrat2003 (1058574) on Sunday October 28, 2007 @06:54PM (#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.
    • by PhysicsPhil (880677) on Sunday October 28, 2007 @06:58PM (#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: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Lesrahpem (687242)
        We're reaching a point where cross-platform applications are becoming much more common than they were 10 years ago. In many cases popular software has versions for Windows, Mac, and Linux, all of which generally work the same way and have the same features on each respective OS.

        I think schools should take advantage of this and focus on using cross-platform software in the classroom whenever possible. Doing so almost guarantees that students will be able to use the same software at home that they use at s
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by value_added (719364)
        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.

        I think this is true only for very small values of true. Yes, Windows teaches someone how to use Windows, but chances are high that years later they will, if bright and attentive, accumulated a collection of Windows-specific
    • 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.

      Mi

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Bazman (4849)
      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-fu
      • 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 fixi
      • by JFitzsimmons (764599) <justin@fitzsimmons.ca> on Sunday October 28, 2007 @11:41PM (#21154003)
        Because MathType lets you just click some buttons and insert mathematical equations into Word. If you already have Word and mathematical experience, your downtime is approximately 30 seconds. To deploy LaTeX however, you have to learn an entire typesetting language, from scratch, with a significantly poorer interface (text file). And then you have to 'compile' your file into something before you can observe the results. No wonder they spent the couple hundred mathtype licences; how many man hours would be lost training everyone to use LaTeX?
    • by SamP2 (1097897)

      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 W

    • by ClubStew (113954)

      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 ab

    • 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.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by vic-traill (1038742)

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

      I tried to deconstruct this sentence, and can't really get anywhere with it.

      Operating systems are just that; systems software that facilitates the use and configuration of the hardware it is running on. I don't think that there is an inherent element within any OS which 'teaches' anything.

      Obviously individuals develop preferences, and one's experience may even lead to a greater understanding of systems' architecture (or similar) using a particular OS. Certainly my experience was that using *nix of var

  • > "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.

  • Huh? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    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 co
  • Intel Macs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bazald (886779) <bazald&zenipex,com> on Sunday October 28, 2007 @06:56PM (#21152163) Homepage
    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.
    • by _merlin (160982)
      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.
  • by nbannerman (974715) on Sunday October 28, 2007 @07:05PM (#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.
    • by caluml (551744)
      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

      • 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...
  • For chrissakes, people. Are you trying to mock yourselves?
  • 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.
    • 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.
      • by JustNiz (692889)
        >> we crimp and save wherever possible
        I really hope that was a typo.

        >> if there was a cheaper / easier way of doing it, I guarantee you I would be using it.

        There is. Really. Its called GNU/Linux and Opensource. Its FREE as in NO LICENCE FEE AT ALL and none of the usage restrictions that Microsoft's EULA is full of. Linux is also been repeatedly proven to be more secure, more stable than Windows. GNU/Linux is also much more global standards-compliant than any Microsoft product so MUCH better for
        • My comment further up discusses how much Microsoft licensing costs - approximately £12,000 per year. This is not a massive cost, given the size of my network (2000+ users, 750~ devices, various MS software, terminal service licensing, etc).

          I am vendor agnostic - I believe in using the best tool for the job. However, and this is the kicker - I am led by the needs of my users, and to a certain extent, led by the decisions that have been made by my predecessors.

          My problem is not the students - I'm
    • by petermgreen (876956) <plugwashNO@SPAMp10link.net> on Sunday October 28, 2007 @08:19PM (#21152731) Homepage
      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.

  • British schools were also warned off "An Inconvenient Truth".
  • by LingNoi (1066278) on Sunday October 28, 2007 @11:31PM (#21153945)
    I wonder if Ubuntu will replace Microsoft on school computers.

    I just saw that Tesco UK is selling Ubuntu PCs [tesco.com] as well! This is a first in England.

    For those that don't live here Microsoft is the computer. For about 10 years I have never heard of anyone else using Linux in the UK (I mean walking around or in real life. Not over the internet), then this year suddenly walking around the university everyone's laptops have Ubuntu or Fedora or SUSE. Even my university has SUSE in one of their labs. Now that is a first!

    There was a piece from 2005 [guardian.co.uk] in which it talks about the government seriously thinking of switching all its software to open source.

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