back to article Microsoft tells UK schools: buy our software, save money

Microsoft's UK education chief insisted yesterday that schools would continue to lap up its software despite tightening budgets and a likely change of government - and education policy - in the next few months. In an interview with The Register at the Bett (British Educational Training and Technology) event in London, the …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    WHY do schools BUY 'Office'

    While the argument for 'windows' is less defined, WHY do schools continue to act as unpaid sales agents for Microsoft on 'Office'. If schools used Open Office and helped ALL their students to use that on their own machines, then we would be saving right across the board !!!

    Oppen Office does everything one needs, and many people would not even notice the difference.

  2. Keith Oldham
    Linux

    Flexible minds

    There should be a good mix of software/OS in schools for one good reason - keeping an agile mindset . Do we really want future IT specialist, scientists and technologists in the Windows-only mindset.?

    Was it really Bill Gates that said "Give us the child for 8 years and it will be (micro)soft forever" ?

  3. gerryg
    Linux

    We haven't had a Gandhi quote for a while

    Clearly Microsoft have moved on from ignore, through ridicule now they are fighting.

    We know what happens next.

  4. Neil Greatorex
    Alert

    "especially if Labour does indeed lose the upcoming General Election"

    Heh, there isn't an "if" about it.

    That useless git Gordon B Ruin has got to go.

  5. GreyCells
    Stop

    Microsoft is taking lessons...

    ...from that other (probably more ethical) business - give away your product to the lids, get 'em hooked young and you've got yourself a user for life.

    We should be teaching our children how to use software, not how to use specific products. i.e. Teach them how to use a variety of word processors or spreadsheats, don't just teach them how to use MS Word/Excel.

    We should also be teaching our children (and our own generation) the difference between free (gratis) and Free (libre) - all too often the free lunch erodes the Free enterprise.

    1. OpenSauce
      Gates Horns

      Indoctrinated

      I have tried to raise charity/school awareness to Free/Open Source Software, OpenOffice.org included.

      The most common answer I get to why it would be a problem is that they/teachers are only familiar with MS products. The fact they could run off totally free software doesn't interest them, as there is perceived higher support cost. That cost would likely be less than the cost of their existing software licences!

      When I did Art at school, we didn't have to use a particular brand of pencil or paint for our work.

      As stated, shouldn't be geared to one software product.

      MS act like a drug dealer, getting the kids 'hooked' on their products, which they will pay (or pirate) when adult Sheep.

      Rather than just bitching here readers, write/visit you local school and raise their awarenes to F/OSS possibilities.

  6. tony 33
    Thumb Down

    schools and software!

    unfortunately my experience of my kids at school shows they only know about MS software

    I think the schools have no concept of Linus systems or OS's

    i weonder how they fet around the rules like they have in religion of teaching all the different ones, because in IT at school level it seems they only teach about MS software

    My daughter did some homework on open office, saving it in an open office standard, when emailed in to school they couldn't open it within Word !

    although when she emails the stuff home in some MS standard it opens fine in open office

    So i guess microsfot might be right, only by the fact you'd have to re-educate all school ITt staff to actually understand

    btw, my kids understood exactly what tyo do with Ubuntu after about 1 hour of just using it !

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Save as .doc

      Tony - While openoffice is clever enough to open any word document, WORD has to be given the right format, so one has to save as .doc until such time as WORD is brought into the 21st century and actually identifies INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS !

  7. Cameron Colley
    Linux

    Schools should be kept MS free.

    Since experience gained using Linux can be fairly easily used when it come to using MS software there's no reason kids should learn the MS way of doing things in schools. Plus, the use of Linux by kids would allow them to make better choices when it comes to buying and using computers as adults -- some may even choose Mac or even Linux if they've had prior experience with OSs other than Windows.

    Taking my Linux fanboi head off for a moment, using free software would allow schools to prolong the life of older hardware, due to lower memory and disk footprints as well as allowing the cannibalisation of older machines without worry about licensing.

  8. Fred 24

    Acting strangely around schools...

    What is it about the way they target schools that just creeps a lot of people out - Oh I know: Its wrong! And of course nobody mentioned all the money saved by the schools that ditched windows for Ubuntu...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If China can do it?

      The Chinese took the right approach by putting a much smaller sum of money into improving the Chinese versions of Linux - and coming up with an approved package. The UK does not even have to do that, any of the new distributions seem to install with a LOT less problems than installing windows, and in considerably shorter time!

  9. AlterEgo77
    Thumb Up

    UK Schools can save even more

    UK Schools can save even more by not using Microsoft and using Ubuntu, OpenOffice, Google Docs and/ or Zoho.

  10. mrweekender
    WTF?

    No don't buy their software...

    ...do what other schools abroad have started to do and get open source - it works - period. The money Microsoft continues to extract from the education system in this country for their software licenses, is nothing more than highway robbery.

    Come on Labour do the right thing and champion the use of Open Office in schools and save the tax payer £20,000 per school over night.

    1. N2 Silver badge

      Yes, agreed but

      The ZaNu Liebour government arent really interested in how much it costs, in fact the more tax payers money they piss down the swanny to some 'approved supplier' the better (for them)

      They take any opportunity for some back scratching with Mandlesons grubby little friends.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    OSS is all very well but

    The real problem is that the support staff in schools are very few and paid peanuts, so whilst they can run the network with the support of people like RM, they would have a lot of difficulty without that infrastructure to help.

    I' m sure that the OSS is very good but until there is an RM like support contract, it ain't going to help.

  12. j38
    FAIL

    Stop funding Micro$oft

    Only the gullible Labour government can be conned into using our taxes to pay Microsoft software for schools. I hope the next Conservative or Lib Dem government will be more sensible. I would recommend the use of Edubuntu ( http://edubuntu.org ).

  13. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Bugger off MS!

    Big fan of free systems and OSS, but it should be horses for courses. Yes kids need exposure to Office, it's a business standard, so I have no problem there. I do have a problem with this mindset that just 'cos the person holding the purse strings has only ever used Windows and MS, everyone has to have MS software, see it all the time in my company, let alone schools which have more users than IT techies by a long stretch.

    This myth that OSS is harder to support is utter tosh. You are putting up a PC to run an office suite and browser, not a flipping control centre for sodding NASA! It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to work to a basic standard and be able to do that 9 times out of 10. At the school my missus works at she often says that the Windows boxes are so loaded with malware that you are lucky if you are able to run something for more than 20 mins before the sodding thing BSODs and restarts, that's no worse than having to reload Ubuntu if something buggers up!

    I have Apple kit at home, which runs Windows for games and I have Linux stuff in VMs, being techy although I don't want my kids to work in IT ( hopefully they get more fulfilling careers! ) I want them to realise that IT and PCs can do lots of things in lots of different ways, so when they hit middle/secondary school they will at least have plenty of software experience and be able to make sound decision based on best tool for the job at hand, be that OSX, Windows, BSD or Linux.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Those who can do, those who can't teach

    never has that been so true than in UK education. 'We don't know how to use these computer thingamy magigamees, all too complicated for our little teacher brains', oh cry me a river.

    It is pathetic, and I wouldn't care but I don't see why I should pay tax for this nonsense. Nor do I see the point of inflicting others with lousy, substandard, and in many cases downright misleading, attempts at teaching.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Schoo;s should be using ...

    open source software because they have the source code.

    Children can learn to use the software while they're young and as they get older can learn to read the code to see how the software that use works.

    It is that simply really.

  16. brudinie
    Linux

    Sat here at school - using Firefox and open office

    There is a problem with schools and their choices they make about software and other ICT purchases. The problem is that many schools lack the technical understanding and ICT support framework to feel confident about using open source software. There is always a risk in moving from one ICT model to another - I think that BECTA should be providing more information about the likely cost savings and also they should be asking more schools to take part in case studies.

    We use windows XP, windows 7, Microsoft office and (dare I say it) Internet Explorer 8 on most of our computers. We have a good understanding of the benefits of open source but we are concerned about retraining teachers to use linux or open office.

    Having said that, there are an increasing number of teachers who do not want to use Internet Explorer - quite a few are using Firefox and Chrome. We even have one teacher who uses Ubuntu (and loves it).

    I think we will have success in the future in moving towards products like open office and Ubuntu because the user perception of open source products in our school is generally good.

    Basically, all I'm saying here is that schools should be AWARE that there are alternatives and they should be playing with the technology and planning pilots.

    We use Linux for some of our back office stuff and it works AMAZINGLY well. We have been running servers for years with minimal downtime. When we have had downtime it has been down to mistakes made by support staff working on the servers. The last time I rebooted my web server it had been running for 247 days straight! I think the issue here is that the general user base are usually unaware that they are accessing web services from a Linux box.

    I actually make a point of telling staff that our VLE, website and ticketing system all run on Linux.

    I make this point because other systems which fail more regularly use a Microsoft OS.

  17. Rex Alfie Lee
    Linux

    Word as Standard...

    Well mate you need a life graft on that basis alone. Why is Word the standard when XML is the preferred format? It isn't there yet & neither it should be until M$'s XML format is dumped completely bcoz it's rubbish. As far as .doc is concerned, OpenOffice creates, Modifies & edits these perfectly well & OpenOffice also offers various other formats, including pdf export that M$ does not.

    It is only the standard while softheads like your own allow a company like M$ which has managed to screw many other companies by reverse engineering software that didn't belong to them. This company has managed to manipulate its way into various organisations & needs to be stopped. When was the last time they produced something truly forward thinking & useful? When did they do it without stealing from someone else? They need to go. Use a useful piece of software & stop pumping billions into the American economy.

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