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Education Microsoft

UK Schools Warned Off Microsoft Deal 337 337

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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UK Schools Warned Off Microsoft Deal

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  • Educational License? (Score:5, Informative)

    by bazald (886779) <bazald@noSPAM.zenipex.com> on Sunday October 28, 2007 @07:20PM (#21151899) Homepage

    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 @07:28PM (#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:Linux (Score:3, Informative)

    by Aladrin (926209) on Sunday October 28, 2007 @07:34PM (#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.
  • Here's a start (Score:2, Informative)

    by zogger (617870) on Sunday October 28, 2007 @07:39PM (#21152031) Homepage Journal
  • Re:Linux (Score:5, Informative)

    by vux984 (928602) on Sunday October 28, 2007 @07:43PM (#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 (Score:3, Informative)

    by langelgjm (860756) on Sunday October 28, 2007 @08:26PM (#21152397) Journal
    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 (Score:3, Informative)

    by hedwards (940851) on Sunday October 28, 2007 @08:27PM (#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.
  • by nbannerman (974715) on Sunday October 28, 2007 @08:38PM (#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.
  • by Michael Woodhams (112247) on Sunday October 28, 2007 @08:42PM (#21152509) Journal
    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.)
  • Re:Linux (Score:3, Informative)

    by mackyrae (999347) on Sunday October 28, 2007 @08:49PM (#21152549) Homepage
    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:WTF?? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Daimanta (1140543) on Sunday October 28, 2007 @09:04PM (#21152635) Journal
    I love the fact that the word wankers can result in a +1 Informative.

  • Re:Linux (Score:5, Informative)

    by niiler (716140) on Sunday October 28, 2007 @09:09PM (#21152663) Journal
    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).
  • Re:Linux (Score:4, Informative)

    by leenks (906881) on Sunday October 28, 2007 @09:17PM (#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 (Score:2, Informative)

    by bigstrat2003 (1058574) on Sunday October 28, 2007 @09:56PM (#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.

  • by ledow (319597) on Monday October 29, 2007 @04:05AM (#21154795) Homepage
    Obviously a troll but...


    The education system has a responsibility to teach it's kids skills for the future. Absent an actual time machine, that means predicting what they will be using in the future and giving them the best start you can from that information.

    On that front, education fails miserably in almost all countries when it comes to Computer Science.

    I was "officially" taught, between 1985 and 2000, BBC Micros, BBC BASIC, Windows 3.1 and (in the last year of University) Java. By the time I was taught them, they were already obsolete (I was still being "taught" BBC BASIC in 1997, for example, despite the fact I'd been programming Win32 C programs for about four years in private).

    If I had even been "taught" the current tech as it was, I would have come away an expert in Windows 95 and 98 and would have almost no experience in Windows 2000. Now, to someone willing to go on to learn further, that's not too bad. But most people stop learning when they leave school, so we'd have an entire nation who, at absolute best, would be trained up on and never want to leave Windows 98.

    Additionally, most SENSIBLE education systems (and that might accidentally include the UK National Curriculum but that's purely coincedental given the state of the rest of the UK education system) NEVER recommend the use of a particular product but a general overview of the type of hardware/software. If your schools teaches MSAccess courses, leave now. If they teach Database classes that just happen to use or prefer MSAccess, you're okay. Because by the time the kids grow up and get into a serious career almost nothing they would have learned in school would be useful or relevant unless they were taught generalities.

    Even in Science - if I was rigourously taught that there were nine planets, I was wrong. The only way to counteract that is to keep up as best you can (although most places still teach that there are nine planets!), explain that things change and teach generalaties (i.e. know that a planet is an object of certain size that orbits the sun, rather than that Pluto is a planet, always will be a planet and can't be anything else). Like science, education has to keep up with modern trends but, like science, it has to be impartial and generalise information rather than teach by rote. Otherwise we'd all still be being taught that the Earth was flat.
  • by Richard W.M. Jones (591125) <.rich. .at. .annexia.org.> on Monday October 29, 2007 @05:36AM (#21155129) Homepage

    They can and do if you license the software. Read your license. You gave permission. In attempting to revoke the license, I am dropping the software licenses which grant permission.

    That may or may not be true for schools. It's certainly not true for consumers, since consumer rights laws in Europe are much stronger than in the US. Unfair clauses and ones that you didn't have the chance to negotiate are automatically discarded. See for example: http://www.consumerdirect.gov.uk/before_you_buy/think_of/unfair-contracts [consumerdirect.gov.uk]


  • Re:Linux (Score:2, Informative)

    by antiseptic_poetry (1022107) on Monday October 29, 2007 @07:00AM (#21155439)
    That's bullsh#t. In Windows Group Policy Manager, enable User Configuration > Administrative Templates > System > Scripts > Run logon scripts synchronously. This tells Windows is disallow any user interactive (i.e. no desktop, no windows explorer, no nothing) after logging in until all login scripts have run. Of course any admin using loginscripts would have this setting enabled.

    I used to work in a highschool, trust me we had to lock the Windows computers down well. There are simple work arounds but for a few things, but they're all solvable with a bit of effort - only stupid admins would roll out a locked standard profile without serious testing anyway.

"Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so." -- Ford Prefect, _Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy_