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Microsoft Education

Britain Advises Against Vista, Office 2007 for Schools 300

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the benefits-unclear dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The British government's educational IT authority has issued a report advising schools in the country not to upgrade their classroom or office systems to Windows Vista or Office 2007. According to this InformationWeek story, the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency says costs for Vista and Office 2007 'are significant and the benefits remain unclear.' Instead, Becta is advising British schools to take a long look at Linux and open source suites like OpenOffice.org."
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Britain Advises Against Vista, Office 2007 for Schools

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  • I guess that they gonna say that Britain has Weapons of Mass destruction very soon...
  • Well Done chaps (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Marcion (876801) on Friday January 11, 2008 @08:40PM (#22008450) Homepage Journal
    This was not done in a vacuum but because of hard work. Well done to the Open Rights Group, UKUUG, Dr John Pugh MP, FSFE, the LUGs and everyone else who has been trying to get Becta and the government to know that there are alternatives to Microsoft.
    • twice in one day... Look at my timestamp. (No, I'm not grousing, just pointing out things...)

      I guess / only wants journalistic firehose submissions. And, can't seem to want to rotate through as wide a number of readers' submissions... Oh well...

    • Re:Well Done chaps (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Z00L00K (682162) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @03:40AM (#22011882) Homepage
      And now Microsoft will make a move and do one or more of the following:
      • Offer a great discount on licenses.
      • Whine loudly about unfair practices.
      • Send the BSA [bsa.org] thugs over to each school to do a license check.
      • Update an agreement with the government forcing the use of Microsoft licenses on every computing devices.
      • 'invent' different computer-related crimes that the schools has to be knowing about and therefore be responsible. Of course - provided by proxies like the RIAA.
      • Silently change their licensing models to be even more obscure and confusing.
      • Outsource more of their support to the government to any country where it's so impolite to say 'No' that you always get 'Yes' as an answer regardless of the question - and charge heavily for it.
      • Create a telephone queue on the 900 support number that forces the users to wait for 30 minutes and £2 per minute while listening to annoying music before answering your call.
      • Require all UK government support calls to be done to a helpdesk in California that's open only between 08:00 and 16:00 PST.
      • Claim security threats and request that the streets around their office shall be closed to through traffic.
      • Buy companies that have agreements with the government and then start to renegotiate the agreements.
      • Release a critical security update that has a specific UK flaw that doesn't show up until after the next security release with an interlocking dependency that can't be fixed for another six months.
      • Re:Well Done chaps (Score:4, Informative)

        by Jaseoldboss (650728) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @06:40AM (#22012748) Homepage Journal
        Update an agreement with the government forcing the use of Microsoft licenses on every computing devices.

        Yep [bbc.co.uk]

        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.

  • Not that surprising (Score:5, Informative)

    by rucs_hack (784150) on Friday January 11, 2008 @08:42PM (#22008474)
    The head of IT at my sons school (here in the UK) recently told me of their irritation at being told they had to use Microsoft only software for their network and teaching. The result was a network that was a nightmare to keep secure (you try and keeping hundreds of enthusiastic kids from finding ways round microsoft security), and poor quality teaching tools. Had he had his way there would be a linux sever running the network and email, XP classroom machines (not linux just yet), openoffice, and python in the programming classes.

    As it is they have windows server, Exchange, MSoffice, Dreamweaver (after a successful revolt against frontpage), and VB.

    I've started teaching my kid myself....
    • by Linker3000 (626634) on Friday January 11, 2008 @09:13PM (#22008854) Journal
      My 7 year old Son's school (West Sussex, UK) approached me for advice on replacing a very ageing Windows server that was hosting all the students' work. The school manages their IT budget independently of County Hall and so can make their own choices for equipment, software and suppliers. The school did have a quote from the UK's top supplier of computer equipment to schools (RM), but with the quoted cost to supply and install being several thousand pounds (yeah, for one server for a primary school!), the school felt they needed a second opinion.

      To cut a long story short, the school now has a custom-built server running Linux (CentOS 5) with RAID 1 mirrored drives in trayless caddies AND a spare 'cold swap' chassis that the school computer technician can use if the main server dies (which can then be repaired at leisure). Total cost was around £500

      So there is hope.
  • by jcr (53032) <jcr@NoSPAM.mac.com> on Friday January 11, 2008 @08:43PM (#22008488) Journal
    In a related story, an agency of Her Majesty's Government advised against poking a sharp stick into one's eye.

    -jcr

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by edwardpickman (965122)
      In a related story, an agency of Her Majesty's Government advised against poking a sharp stick into one's eye.

      Microsoft's response, "How do you know it'll hurt until you've tried it"?

      • by Linker3000 (626634) on Friday January 11, 2008 @09:35PM (#22009070) Journal
        A vulnerability has been found in MS-Stick 1.0 that may allow malicious attackers to insert a piece of their stick into the original, thus causing further damage when the stick is poked in the eye.

        This so-called DDoS (Deeper Destruction of Sclera) attack can be prevented by installing Stick Service Pack 1, which adds an outer layer of additional protection to the stick thus preventing third parties from snapping the stick and re-assembling it to include their extension.

        A tool is available to check your stick to see whether it has been affected by a malicious attack. The tool detects stick size changes - ask your stationery supplier for the '30cm ruler' tool.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by ConceptJunkie (24823) *
        No, Microsoft's response would be "It doesn't hurt, in fact it feels great." but the person making the response is facing the wrong way because both his eyes have been poked out.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 11, 2008 @08:46PM (#22008524)
    Having used both Office and OpenOffice.org extensively, I'm not really convinced that OO.o is really superior. Now, it is of course better in that it's open source, and it uses openly-documented file formats. But the user experience of OO.o is still lacking in many respects. Even on fast systems, it's slow and bloated.

    I think it would be better to teach these children how to use LaTeX. It offers the openness of OO.o, but allows for the preparation of much more professional documentation. It would also be very useful for those students who wish to pursue university studies, as most math, science and engineering papers are formatted using LaTeX.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      OpenOffice is better for schools because it's free. No school ever has enough money for everything it wants to do, and paying the Microsoft Tax on enough machines for their students to work on in class can be a big drain on very limited resources. OpenOffice is similar enough in look, feel and use to MSOffice (Except for 2007, of course.) that it's easy for somebody who knows one to work with the other, so it's a reasonable choice.
      • by Locklin (1074657)
        Actually, the parent suggests teaching LaTeX as an alternative. Somehow I doubt it would be feasible, but personally, I wish people knew there was a better way to write than putting everything in word.

        Text is for writing, TeX is for formatting, word processors? Well, they're for what's left.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Yes, but I suggested OOo because it's good enough for most people. Most people not only don't need the kind of fine control that LATex gives you, they'd resent being forced to learn it and resist using it. It'd be nice, of course, if it were available for the few who'd want or need it, but schools have to concentrate on what most of their students need if they're going to do any good.
        • Agreed. "Word processing" is one of the biggest jokes foisted on computer users ever. For everyone but dedicated, experienced users it is a huge waste of time, whereas markup like LaTeX or something simpler like reStructed Text is instantly learnable and gives the same results for most uses. In my opinion, "word processing" was much more functional and usable 25 years ago.

          Microsoft Word, aside from being a hideous monstrosity of an application I wouldn't wish on my enemies is like using an F-15 to drive
          • by spisska (796395) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @12:36AM (#22010712)

            I think the biggest disconnect with MS Word is what it's capable of compared to what it's good at. I constantly see people trying to make MS Word do things it doesn't do particularly well and getting frustrated in the process.

            Credit where it's due: MS Word is a good word processing engine. You can type things, check your spelling (it's often right), check your grammar (it's often wrong), and print. These are good things that MS Word does well, as long as your document isn't too long.

            MS Word is capable of tracking changes in a document so you can know who made what edits and when. This does not make it a document versioning system, yet that is often how I see it used. It's a nice feature for a writer or a small workgroup but entirely ineffective for a larger group or over a longer time. And it will bite you hard if you send documents externally in native MS Office formats without killing all the evidence of previous edits.

            MS Word is capable of generating tables and embedding graphics or spreadsheet objects. It's just not very good at it. Between different users on different systems (or the same user on the same system) it seems to have its own mind about how things should be displayed. Anything embedded can change on a whim, and will change provided you open the document often enough. Which feeds right into the next point.

            MS Word is capable of doing document layout. But it's a complete nightmare. Lines disappear and reappear; text boxes change size and shape for no apparent reason; fonts randomly switch from 10-pt sans to 12-pt serif because they feel like it; auto-numbering decides it knows better than you what numbers go where; and objects resize and replace themselves entirely according to their own rules (which are confidential and proprietary).

            MS Word knows better than you what you want to do with it, and if you want to something else, well, you're obviously mistaken. It really makes me miss the days of WordPerfect 5. I appreciated and made good use of the fact that I could see the codes embedded in the text, could tell from the codes when something would be bold or italic and not have to worry about text randomly changing format later

            • on.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by CmdrSammo (1086973)
      "I think it would be better to teach these children how to use LaTeX"

      Here here! I've recently started using LaTeX at university and although the learning curve is a little steep it is an excellent tool. There are plenty of existing templates to use for writing reports, the image and layout tools are ticky to get the hang of at first but again very powerful. I used these tutorials [andy-roberts.net] and they pretty much covered everything I needed

      When it comes to references aswell BiBTeX is very handy for handling them all

    • by rmcd (53236) *
      I think you're completely right about the fit and finish of OO being klunky, and it is slow for some tasks. But I have recently started to wonder: so what? I really think it's now good enough for most people for most tasks. My wife's new laptop has OO rather than office, and it's fine. When my son had to make a birthday party invitation, he started in Word, grew frustrated (as did I trying to help him -- it was a two-fold card so we had to rotate part of the page 180 degrees). We tried OO and found that the
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anne Honime (828246)

        I really think it's now good enough for most people for most tasks. My wife's new laptop has OO rather than office, and it's fine.

        That's what I do routinely for relatives ; want a word processor ? Sure, here is my OO.o CD, I'll install it no problem, my pleasure. Oh, you meant MS Office ? I can install it for sure, but you hand me the money first so I can go and buy the boxed version. Find a WHAT ? Nope, sorry, no way, I'm not breaking laws for you. OO.o will do ? Fine, let's go.

        So far, all the persons I equiped with OO.o have stuck with it. None have reverted to MS-Office. Maybe they resent me, but that's a proof that they didn'

    • by moosesocks (264553) on Friday January 11, 2008 @10:05PM (#22009330) Homepage
      I wholeheartedly agree. We need to stop touting OO as a good substitute for Office.

      Office isn't very good, and for OOo to do *worse* than it is a pretty miserable achievement. We need to get some fresh faces involved with the project to either clean things up (a la Firefox), or start from scratch to build an application that's got an overall "friendlier" appearance.

      "Lack of features" isn't even the biggest issue here. Despite being much "simpler", I find AbiWord to be vastly superior to OOo, even though its featureset is comparatively limited.

      The GIMP has been stumbling along for years upon years, and has never really managed to reach a state of usefulness to designers. However, in a very short period of time, two guys wrote an f---ing amazing shareware "Photoshop substitute [pixelmator.com]" for Mac OS. Granted, it's not photoshop, but unlike The GIMP, or OOo, it's fast, has a good UI, and even though it lacks some of Photoshop's more advanced features, it's more than adequate for my needs.

      It's not open-source or cross-platform, but seriously..... two guys wrote it in their spare time!

      I'll also ignore that comment about teaching primary schoolers LaTeX. I'm a reasonably savvy university student, and I find LaTeX absolutely unusable. It's got to be one of the most difficult and convoluted pieces of software in widespread use. It's great in concept, but make one tiny syntax error, and the compiler blows up with a 2-page long indecipherable error message. Most C compliers have better error handling.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Bombula (670389)
      I know it's apocryphal to even make this point, but is it possible that there is a point beyond which the basic Office-style apps simply cannot be improved? This is a serious question, not troll. Given the constraints of near-horizon technology (no AI, imperfect voice recognition, no brain-computer interfaces), how much better can word-processor, spreadsheet and slideshow programs get? Leave aside databases, design and payout apps, and other things bundled in MS Office for the sake of simplicity. Is the
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by JohnBailey (1092697)

        I know it's apocryphal to even make this point, but is it possible that there is a point beyond which the basic Office-style apps simply cannot be improved? This is a serious question, not troll. Given the constraints of near-horizon technology (no AI, imperfect voice recognition, no brain-computer interfaces), how much better can word-processor, spreadsheet and slideshow programs get? Leave aside databases, design and payout apps, and other things bundled in MS Office for the sake of simplicity. Is there a point at which the three basic apps couldn't get any better? I'd be very interested to hear people's thoughts on this because I'm guessing it will bring out all sorts of interesting suggestions for improvements that have never occurred me.

        Ahh... the voice of sanity.. Office is not a DTP app. Excel is not a database. There are circumstances where Office is used for everything, but it's like trying to build a boat with a swiss army knife. Better than nothing, but not the same thing as having the right tool for the job.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Tatsh (893946)
      I think it would be better to teach these children how to use LaTeX. It offers the openness of OO.o, but allows for the preparation of much more professional documentation. It would also be very useful for those students who wish to pursue university studies, as most math, science and engineering papers are formatted using LaTeX.

      Totally agree, but not necessarily children. Part of a science/engineering/mathematics major should be learning how to write using LaTeX. I've learned by myself and I use it for pap

    • by Solandri (704621)

      I think it would be better to teach these children how to use LaTeX. It offers the openness of OO.o, but allows for the preparation of much more professional documentation.

      My boss at a former job pointed this out to me. LaTeX follows a programmer's paradigm. First you write the source, then you have to compile and link it to produce what you really want. This is fine for programmers and people who don't mind learning the ins and outs of how computers work. But it's needlessly complicated for someone wh

      • by inflex (123318)
        LyX comes practically close to this. Provides a nice balance between pure WYSIWIG and raw.

        Have written many software manuals as well as assembly guides using it, it's great stuff and you don't have to entwine yourself with the LaTeX side of things.
    • LaTeX is just a tool. I think it's worth reminding ourselves that all these document editors are tools that can and should be easy enough to learn and master "on the go". I am saying this because I have the impression that some guys with CompSci background put too much emphasis on, for example, LaTeX, and forget that the physics, chemistry or electronics student uses them to write their homeworks or their scientific papers - but what matters to them is the science they learn at the university. Whether they
  • Where it fits in (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Richard Fairhurst (900015) on Friday January 11, 2008 @08:47PM (#22008552) Homepage

    The interesting thing is the timing.

    Every single technology-aware teacher in Britain is at the BETT show at the moment - the trade fair for the educational IT industry. And the Eee PC is the star of the show. Rebadged it may be under various resellers' names, but it's the same old Linux-based Eee PC, complete with OpenOffice and - more significantly - 802.11g and Firefox, ready to access any number of educational webapps. Of course, it doesn't hurt that in a time of reduced Government spending, the Eee is also ridiculously cheap.

    So along comes Becta and says "actually, you should look at free alternatives to Windows/Office". When they said that three years ago, everyone went "uh-huh" and carried on buying what they'd always bought. This time, there's an alternative. This is the first serious challenge to Microsoft in UK schools since the demise of the Acorn Archimedes.

    • by Marcion (876801)
      You hit it on the head.

      The EEEPC labelled as the 'RM Minibook'. I think it is about time. As Nicolas Negroponte found in his landmark studies of how technology can aid education (and his subsequent laptop project), there is only one ratio that matters, children need their own individual computers to really get to know them and use them effectively.

      In Britain, the government gives poorer kids meals and uniforms, laptops may well be next.
  • Full Report (Score:5, Informative)

    by Marcion (876801) on Friday January 11, 2008 @08:49PM (#22008576) Homepage Journal
    BTW here is the report in glorious PDF:
    http://learningandskills.becta.org.uk/download.cfm?resID=35275 [becta.org.uk]
  • by FoolsGold (1139759) on Friday January 11, 2008 @09:01PM (#22008716)
    I'm not surprised about Brecta suggesting to avoid Vista + Office 2K7 on cost grounds. Even suggesting OO sounds reasonable. But that part that surprised me the most?

    Becta is advising British schools to take a long look at Linux

    A Government department suggesting schools investigate the use of Linux? That's rather encouraging and should be seen as significant.
    • A Government department suggesting schools investigate the use of Linux? That's rather encouraging and should be seen as significant.
      "Major Strasser has been shot. Bribe the usual suspects."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 11, 2008 @09:10PM (#22008818)
    The UK Newspaper the Guardian says more than a million kids in the UK don't have access to a computer at home.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uklatest/story/0,,-7210652,00.html/ [guardian.co.uk]

    The supported use of FOSS software could make a radical difference. Recycled hardware running free operating systems and applications could reduce the cost of student PCs to almost zero, and truly put computing within the reach of every child.

    I have several computers at home that my children use for school-related activities. TOTAL cost of each (hardware, OS, office suite, image manipulation) is that of the monitor. These boxes are absolutely fit for purpose, and would otherwise be landfill.

    My children regard computing at home as a commodity, which funnily enough, it is, if you step outside the wierd monopolistic force-bubble that is our educational computing practice.

    The only excuse for the situation in our schools, the only reasoning that could possibly hold water, is 'They should use what they'll use at work'. This is short, snappy, and is accepted easily by those only peripherally involved in the question. I don't think it bears examination though. Some thoughts:

    A trite one:

    I don't believe any otherwise suitable candidate has ever been passed over because they were trained on the wrong spreadsheet, but if they were they should count themselves lucky to have escaped. They are more likely to be passed over if they didn't do well on the coursework because their parents couldn't afford to give them access to a PC.

    A less trite one:

    Office 2007's new UI, if it achieves the any sort of foothold on corporate desktops, will render all experience of word processing at schools until now totally obsolete. Or will it? No of course not - conversion courses will help the latest intake drive the latest software.

    If this change can be handled between versions of the same product, then exactly the same case can be made for conversion between products. So (for example):

    Train on OpenOffice (or other product if it's free at least for educational and domestic use, and runs on a free operating system.) With the money you save on buying no Microsoft Office or Windows licences build and deploy short conversion courses for people about to leave school, getting them up to speed on the current commercial favourites. This would spit out kids with more up-to-date experience of the commercial softwarescape than the current policy.

    The benefits of this approach come from breaking the lock-in: commoditisation spreading children's access to computing in a way that otherwise only massive subsidy could (fail to) achieve; our children, their teachers and parents able to take advantage of the freely-given, high-quality work of a global community, while ending their education better trained on the latest commercial tools than they are today.
    • That's not an excuse, I'm not wasting tax so they can become an extension of Microsoft's sales dept!

      They should be learning about IT! They should learn a little about different Operating Systems, maybe a bit of html, how to read a manual (very important for anything tech related), etc.

      What do we currently have you might be asking? 1 year of learning that a monitor is an output and a keyboard is an input. The IT education in England is a joke.

      IT education should start from primary school, it's far more impor
      • The sad thing is that the interpretation of the curriculum requirements is variable - at my son's primary school they have used their ICT suite to research their history projects, write letters to 'pen pals', compile brochures for imaginary businesses as partof a maths project and even to edit a film made about the history of the school and village as part of a funded project that even had professional film makers and editors visit the school and spend time teaching various techniques. Sure, they have learn
  • by toadlife (301863) on Friday January 11, 2008 @09:22PM (#22008940) Journal
    ...that they are advising.

    Said by TFA:
    "Becta is advising British schools to take a long look at Linux and open source suites like OpenOffice.org."
    I'm sure they will take a look at Linux and promptly forget about it as soon as they realize that they would have to fire their existing Windows-only IT staff and/or hire new staff to support it. After that they will take a long look at their agreement with Microsoft and realize that just ditching MS Office will not help either since their current volume license agreement is a package that includes Office too.

    In order to *really* save money you have to go for the full monty and almost completely ditch all Microsoft products, which requires a talented IT staff. My experience with K-12 Education IT is that most IT staffs in this category can't make this work.
    • In the British public sector, people don't get fired.

      Well, they do, but they tend to have to commit serious crime for it to happen. Kiddy-fiddling, murder, that sort of thing (little things like defrauding the taxpayer of tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds tend not to cause much of a fuss).

      It also doesn't matter two shits what the IT staff want, because they don't make the decisions. That's why we have organisations like BECTA, who (thankfully) have a relatively level head about such things and can tel
  • OpenEducationDisc (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pluke (801200) on Friday January 11, 2008 @09:23PM (#22008954) Homepage
    I'm an ICT teacher in the UK and I totally agree. We are trying to teach skills and not packages. But it is more than that, you can;t teach kids everything in school and being able to access the skills and tools that you implement in school at home is essential to complement what they are learning in school. After two years of quite severe debate, our school now uses several OSS packages and the kids are given copies of the OpenEducationDisc. Teachers and students can't believe it is free. I now have kids making music, 2D and 3D graphics and actually able to complete written assignments at home as they have something to write with and open word docs with (OOo). For me propriety formats do not have a foot to stand on when you take the home situation into hand.
  • by blind biker (1066130) on Friday January 11, 2008 @09:45PM (#22009148) Journal
    Let's see: the demise of HD-DVD was a blow. Then the fact that MS is associated with those trying to undermine a charity (OLPC) will certainly not generate a whole lot of good will. Then this little chink in the armor, in the british schools. And then there was that class action lawsuit against Microsoft because of the Xbox Live network downtimes. A year that barely started, and already generated all this sh*t for MS!

    However will this year continue, for MS? I hear that a lot of disillusioned users of Vista just decided to get macs. A little number, perhaps, but still an erosion of Microsoft marketshare. And then there's Firefox that's increasing its marketshare every month a little bit.
  • Not just Linux... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fm6 (162816) on Friday January 11, 2008 @09:46PM (#22009160) Homepage Journal
    As long as we're questioning the educational value of a "standard" OS, let's question the educational value of "standard" end-user software. Face it, 10 year olds aren't very interested in playing with a word processor or spreadsheet. How about something that will actually engage and challenge them? Even if they don't go for the XO, schools should consider installing some of the software [laptop.org] from that system. Which is not terribly tied to the OLPC project, or even to Linux. OLPC's innovative user interface [laptop.org] also deserves a close look.
    • The kids don't play with word processors or spreadsheets - they use them as tools to help them with curriculum work - such as writing history reports or using them to collate stats. One time I sat in an IT classroom (I used to work as a freelance IT technician for the schools in my county), the pupils were gathering numeric information in Excel to help with a history project.

      Apart from learning the basic WP and spreadsheet skills, schools ICT teaching is not a series of 'how to use Word' sessions.
      • Damn - I managed to lose the first para of my reply, which was explaining that in my son's school the approach taken to IT teaching is very practical and that I have seen examples in other schools where the approach has been far from sterile.
    • by FudRucker (866063)
      Linux + KDE-3.5.8 + kdegames + kdeedu. plus OpenOffice or KOffice (or both)...

      kdegames has much better games than ms does out of the box, plus kdeedu is great too...
  • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Friday January 11, 2008 @09:57PM (#22009260)
    People seem to be somewhat mistakenly making direct comparisons between OpenOffice and MS Office.

    I do not deny for one minute that there are a minority of specialised MS Office users who write macros and VB programs for which OpenOffice would not be suitable - but for the majority of MS Office users that do use only about 10% of its features, OO is a perfectly good substitute.

    And dare I mention one important fact. I work in the IT industry and have a large group of friends who also (mostly) work in high tech industry. All of them have MS Office on their home PCs but not one of them has actually paid for it - they've either borrowed a corporate license from their workplace or use cracks of the Internet. In my experience, when these people compare MS Office to OpenOffice, they forget that MS Office should probably have cost them a couple of hundred dollars/pounds/euros whereas OO is entirely free. If they were forced to pay for their copies of MS office, they would be a lot more inclined to at least give OO a try.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by man_of_mr_e (217855)
      Like most people that advocate OOo, you really have no idea how Office is used, do you?

      You think people sit around writing macros for themselves? Maybe some, but every company i've worked for in the last 10 years has had (literally) hundreds, even thousands of documents on file servers with embedded macros for use by the entire company.

      The Accounting departments are particularly notorious for this, as are Human resources. They have create macro embedded documents for vacation request forms, health care an
  • ...and it's my expectation that my government takes a serious look at Open Source software in all public-funded areas such that money going into the Microsoft coffers might instead be used to pay for better cancer treatment in UK hospitals and/or better funded schools.

    I do not deny that IT staff who support Windows day-to-day in the Public Sector would need to be trained to support Linux. But I'm sure this additional cost would soon be outweighed by the monies that no longer need to be spent on Microsoft

  • At least in the United States, computer training in schools is already lacking. More and more students lack general or even useful knowledge of using business software. With many businesses already using Microsoft Office products (Maybe not 2007), wouldn't it be in the best interest for everyone to teach kids what the working environment actually uses? Sure OpenOffice and Linux is used, but 90% of OEM machines use Windows and Office. About the same percentage of businesses use the same. The cost of upgradi
    • by theurge14 (820596) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @03:03AM (#22011732)
      You know, when I was growing up in the 1980s just beceause we didn't have to have Vista and Office 2007 or whatever didn't make me totally helpless in the workplace. The first time I had a class that used the computer writing lab in 7th grade was the old blue-screen WordPerfect. The first time I did any computer programming at school was BASIC on a TRS-80. The first time I worked with a spreadsheet was in Lotus 1,2,3 on a Mac in 6th grade. Somehow I managed to be able to translate these non-Microsoft skills into being able to use what "90% of the workplace" uses, and somehow it didn't manage ending up being "wasteful".

      On the contrary, I think the computing diversity we had in the 80s is sorely missed.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fwarren (579763)
      If the local schools switched to Linux and OpenOffice, the time spent training students on OpenOffice and Linux to get jobs with the state, which provides 70% of the jobs in our state, the four years spent doing business computer classes would be almost wasteful.

      If that is the case. The schools are teaching the wrong things. They should teach concepts not particular applications. Word Processing is understanding the following things: opening files, closing files, printing files. How paragraphs work, wor

  • http://www.xitimonitor.com/fr-fr/barometre-des-navigateurs/firefox-septembre-2007/index-1-1-3-110.html [xitimonitor.com]

    The site's in French, but FF numbers are the lower in the UK than anywhere else in Europe -- and according to this report, it actually shrunk this fall. (Search for "Royaume-Uni" for the UK's numbers).

    Last time I checked, IE's still number one in the UK, and its share seems to be growing. Anyone know why?

    And yeah, I know FF isn't Linux or OO -- but its IS free, and it IS open source. And IMHO, its

  • Reality is a bitch (Score:4, Informative)

    by mormop (415983) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @06:25AM (#22012664)
    OK, time to piss on everyone's parade.

    Sorry to spoil the party but what BECTA say counts for bugger all as they have no power beyond recommendation.

    I, am the admin of a UK school that has been running Linux on all of our servers for the last three years. It's brilliant! Uptimes are long, hacking is minimal and we save a bloody fortune in licences. Centos backend running LDAP,DHCP,DNS, Mandriva boxes for Samba and Zimbra (Open Source version) running on our mail server. The desktops (much to my despair) are still running XP but the curriculum software our teachers use won't run via WINE. The IT club however is going to be running Ubuntu or Fedora 8 so at least some will get the point but I digress from the point that I wish to make which is "Building Schools for the Future" or "Fucking-up Schools for the Future" as it's often to referred to by those of us that the council claim have been fully consulted when in fact we haven't heard a word.

    Building Schools for the Future (BSF) is the governments plan to scratch build new school buildings for every school in the UK. Sounds great doesn't it but what they don't mention is that the building of these schools is a PFI (Private Finance Initiative) project that will lead to these schools; a) costing more long term than keeping them public and b) being run by private companies with the tax payer footing the bill (and the CEO's bonus).

    On an ICT front, computing services will be tendered out to private companies along the lines of Capita and RM. Let's play spot the Linux oriented company in this lot shall we? Oh right, they're aren't any and that probably explains why leading edge BSF schools aren't running Linux. Whole counties are run on SIMS (School Information Management System) and it doesn't run MySQL or Postgres as the backend (Take a guess). The collection of data from schools will also be centralised to the governments education department which will require compatible software and all this is happening now.

    And here folks is the problem. BECTA have been spouting on about Linux for years now and you will be hard pressed to find anything except Windows in schools because once you get to a certain level of decision maker no-one cares as it's just a few extra zeros on the end of number that's already very large. Part of this is probably down to the fact that no-one actually seems to know how much BSF is going to cost even though they are trying to sign service companies up to it. You can probably throw whatever figure you want at it and it will get paid because, like the Olympics, it's a Government prestige project that the tax-payer will underwrite. Obviously, if Linux did look too promising, educational XP licences would be extended and discounted to ensure that whatever converting cost, it would be more than the status quo.

    I'll believe Linux in schools when, and only when I see it. Until then it's a fairy tale.

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