back to article Microsoft offers cut-price Win 8 PCs and fondletops to UK schools

British schoolkids and teachers are to be offered discounted Windows 8 laptops and tabs in a Microsoft programme to close the digital divide. Government-funded schools have become eligible to receive Windows 8 Intel-based laptops and tablets from Asus, Acer and RM Education that are loaded with software and that have had 30 …


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  1. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Someone is thinking of the children

    its the drug pusher mentality again.

  2. James Gosling

    The Microsoft Curriculum

    RM have been fleecing schools for decades, all this will do is give them a chance to get their foot in the door at yet more schools. Last thing schools need is more Microsoft lock-in. And don't fool yourself this is about generosity, it's about reinforcing a curriculum based on Microsoft products. We should be protecting schools and students from this kind of manipulation by big business not encouraging it!

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: The Microsoft Curriculum

      It's not exactly a new idea. Borland were doing 80% "student" discounts back in the days of the Turbo-* range of compilers/toolkits, Paradox etc.

      It's not a bad idea if other companies do the same thing at the same time. The problem is, they won't at least not in terms of the OS. Apple don't see a need to do it. Linux/Android/*nix can't.

      Schools are 99% Windows only shops. The competition for "hearts and minds" is in the apps. Surely Adobe and the like also do huge discounts too?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Microsoft Curriculum

        Apple already offer special education pricing on iMac and MacBook. No reason Linux vendors can't offer discounts to schools and colleges.

  3. Mark C Casey


    Windows 8 is an improvement over 7, if only they'd kept the start menu and made the start screen/metro/modern ui optional I would be singing its praises.

    If you use something like Start8 or Classic Start Shell then it's all good as you then never have to interact with the awful start screen. There are a number of little things like the task manager is a great improvement. But honestly, I can't seriously recommend Win8 over Win7.

    The forcing of a touch screen UI into a desktop keyboard/mouse environment is the very epitome of stupidity. How did anyone at Microsoft seriously not put up their hand at some point and say "isn't having to move the mouse cursor to the side of the screen where there is no indicator that it does anything horribly unintuitive?" or a various number of other usability problems that windows 8 creates.

    It boggles my mind how Microsoft have managed to be the jack of all trades and so have become the master of none. Apple and Google have realised you can't force a desktop UI into a touch screen device and vice-versa, why can't Microsoft?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: Windows

      "It boggles my mind how Microsoft have managed to be the jack of all trades and so have become the master of none. Apple and Google have realised you can't force a desktop UI into a touch screen device and vice-versa, why can't Microsoft?"

      I think it's quite possible to produce a hybrid format which works as a tablet with touch or a desktop with mouse + keyboard. I think Microsoft's problem is not that their concept is bad but it's half implemented. They made a beeline straight for tablet land with metro, polished up the desktop side a little, put in some half baked mouse + keyboard support for the tiley/swipey stuff and called it a day.

      I have Windows 8 on a laptop (with no touch) and metro can be simultaneously useful and frustrating. The experience feels a lot faster and responsive and the start page is an attractive and easy way to get started. But at the same time as I predominantly use the desktop the experience constantly trips me up. Most reviews of Windows 8 contain some line which says "Things got easier when I discovered hotkey X", or "I found the app through the search charm" etc. Basically people discovered workarounds for the worst excesses but they shouldn't have been there in the first place.

      I hope and expect that given another iteration or substantial service pack that the roughest edges can be taken off the experience. I think they're in a hair's breadth of producing an OS which people can used as a tablet while walking around but is also a great desktop for people armed with a mouse and keyboard. But it needs that refinement.

      I also think that Android and iOS could both take a page from the Windows book for their behaviour when a mouse + keyboard is plugged in. Android has *terrible* support for mice. Most Android apps use the supplied native widgets (e.g. TextView for an edit box). Why can't Android make it so if I mouse over an edit box the cursor changes to a caret to give me a contextual hint that I can edit that field. Why doesn't it change to a finger when I hover a link in chrome? Why is it pot luck what key stroke combinations (if any) will work in some random app. Why when I drag and drop a text range in a browser does it behave like I'm stabbing the screen with a chubby finger and interfere with the selection behaviour?

      So while it's easy to slag off Windows 8 (and fun), I think it does get a lot of things right and existing tablet OSes certainly aren't perfect either. I window Windows RT on the other hand is a total waste of time - it's emasculated, incompatible and serves mainly as an excuse to keep the price of Windows 8 devices high. I expect Windows RT is going to fail hard and hopefully Windows 8 will be the only Windows and we'll see more affordable devices that use it in time.

  4. hplasm Silver badge

    Shape the future

    “Give me the child for his first seven years and I'll give you the Microsoft User.”

    Same Old.

    1. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: Shape the future

      On balance I think I'd prefer that than schools saying kids should buy iPads. Though if the UK government were actually thinking ahead on this they should be mandating formats and standards that all school materials should be supplied in and forcing the devices into compliance rather than letting vendors fight each other over hearts and minds.

  5. squilookle

    There needs to be a variety of different computers in schools, Microsoft, Apple and :Linux based, so that kids get a better understanding of computing and don't come out with the belief that computers == Microsoft.

    You can't remove MS completely, the kids need to come out equipped for work and many WILL be working with MS software, but the balance is needed.

    When I was in first school, we had BBC Micros and I remember drawing pictures by typing in what I wanted and hoping the picture came out okay. I remember drawing a boat and a space ship with this software, whatever it was.

    When I was in Middle school, we had Acorns and we worked with spreadsheets and did bits of programming.

    When I went to upper school, we had a few Acorns but it was mostly Windows, and by the time I was at 6th form, IT lessons were basically Microsoft Office lessons. I remember networking was skipped over briefly. Happy times though, we akll spent lessons playing the flight sim easter egg in Excel 97 when the teacher wasn't looking.

    1. Keep Refrigerated

      You're right to a degree but I would argue that if MS was removed completely or relegated to some kind of legacy status, employers would quickly catch up when they realised that not only are the kids coming out smarter, but in order to maintain their workforce turnover, they need to provide the tools these smart kids need for work.

      Lots of us have gone through phases of having decent modern kit at home, but being forced to use legacy or crap at work - we adapted to it. I think kids raised on open source would have no difficulty adapting to the constraints until they found a more decent employer that provided them better work tools.

  6. Mystic Megabyte


    In these days of economic downturn, any management that chooses proprietary over open source should be sacked.

    If you grew up using Libre Office how hard would it be to use any other office software?

    My teacher friend got a similar deal on an iMac, it had so little memory it could not even rotate a jpg!

  7. James Hughes 1

    Not an effort to close the digital divide

    It's a fairly transparent effort to increase MS/Intel sales, by indoctrinating generation after generation of schoolchildren in to MS software and Intel HW.

  8. wobbly1

    this worked in the past because...

    Microsoft were first to market , I can imagine children getting hacked off, because the use android or apples ios at home. It will only work if the decision makers in academia don't understand the market... Oh f*ck, As you where.

  9. P Saunders

    Wait until the licence fees go up

    as they inevitably do with microsoft. nothing is ever really "free" with them.

  10. Miek
    Thumb Down

    Get 'em young, just like Coca-Cola

  11. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    “Give me the child for his first seven years and I'll give you the man.”

    No thanks, given I've got two daughters...

  12. Danny 14

    RM and "cut price" in the same sentence.


    no thanks.

  13. The BigYin


    ...are these cheaper than a RasPi? You know, that little thing kids can actually learn how to do actual computing on? And if they manage to break big deal? And it's a UK designed device? And...and...and...

    I know the RasPi would still need a keyboard etc, but it strikes me as being a lot better than the latest MS "push the buttons and don't think" crap-ola.

    1. Tyrion

      Re: Wait...

      You can get a sweet Raspberry PI setup for as little as £60-80 including usb hub, micro usb wifi dongle, case, and wireless keyboard with built-in touch pad (mouse). I know because I just bought one (the new 512mb model). It's an amazing little device, and more than powerful enough for classrooms.

      Can you imagine how much money schools would save if they bought these things in bulk for every class room? No more extortionate Microsoft licensing costs. No more paying £1k for a PC and software. Hell, I'd install them for free if only to rid the education system of the Microsoft disease.

  14. Roger Greenwood

    " to close the digital divide"

    is translated as "to make sure apple/android don't get any more of a toe in"

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If not Jesuit, then what is it?

    Companies of any size NEVER act out of altruism, there's always a reason behind "generosity", and it's ALWAYS related to getting some sort of benefit and advantage in return, direct, or indirect. They don't care about environment, they don't care about "sustainable growth" and they don't care about kids' education, they do care about their profits. And projecting the right image helps to keep it healthy.

    Is it bad? No, not at all, but I wish they say it frankly, rather than cover it up with the usual bullshit.

  16. Tyrion

    More Microsoft Lock-in

    I think we've had just about enough of Microsoft and its proprietary software monopolising our schools, and consequently, our children's minds for the past two decades. It's time to inject FOSS and open platforms into our education system and finally be rid of the wintel disease that's currently infecting it.

    Raspberry PI, GNU/Linux, OpenDocument formats, and Libre Office need to be put into schools ASAP to solve the windows rot. Let's get our kids learning a real OS, one that can be tinkered with, and where software programming tools are aplenty (GCC, GDB, VIM).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: More Microsoft Lock-in

      Let's just start with open document formats. This will allow them to accept Microsoft bribe while avoiding the lock-in. Best of two worlds.

  17. ben_myers

    Can we remove Microsoft Office and IE9 from these systems and install OpenOffice and Firefox?

  18. David Goadby

    RM? You must be joking!

    It's bad enough the U$oft are trying (desperately in my view) to get more Win8 users on board early but then you add RM as the sole supplier for this deal and you have a desperate partnership like U$oft - Nokia.

    RM are slowly dying as the schools that were handsomely fleeced for high priced "special" disk drives and customised (read locked into ) software woke up and smelled the coffee. Most schools spend their IT budgets more wisely and quite a few are using their older existing hardware with Linux and Open Source software installed.

    This is the ploy of a desperate behemoth and a desperate dying small fish.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RM - Don't make me sick

    The quicker this parasitic company dies the better. Anyone see the Panorama documentary about schools having gone into massive debt because of rip off IT companies? I've seen RM charge schools £600 for laptops that are clearly only worth £350 max. It's absolutely scandalous what they've got away with over the last 10 years in education. I partially blame arrogant Head Teachers who clearly can't or won't take professional advice on board.

    I remember an RM sales person trying to sell the school I worked at, the RM client management system back in the day. Told him I was running a raw Win2k network, he suggested I move to Windows 98 because the RM shit would only run on that client OS - wanker! Needless to say he was shown the door.

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