Schools body repeats Vista warnings

Schools have once again been told to hold off upgrading to Microsoft’s new operating system and office suite in a report by the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta).

Schools body repeats Vista warnings

In its final report released at the British Education and Training Technology show in London, Becta again called the software’s interoperability and value into question, repeating concerns raised in its interim report released last January.

“Our objective is to make sure schools and colleges get the best possible value for money,” says Dr Stephen Lucey, Becta’s executive director of strategic technologies.

“Our advice is to be sure there is a strong business case before upgrading to these products as the costs are significant and the benefits remain unclear.”

But on the sidelines of the BETT show, Microsoft’s education and marketing manager Ray Fleming said the firm wasn’t concerned. “We don’t see this as a big issue… it’s just a repeat from last year,” he said. “The message from schools is they love the new software. This seems like a departmental debate which is very much detached from schools.”

Becta estimated that upgrading each primary school machine to the new operating system would cost £125, while doing the same for secondary school machines would cost £75 each. Overall, that would cost the £175 million across England and Wales – a third of which would go to Microsoft in the form of licensing fees.

Office 2007

Becta also advised schools against installing Office 2007 unless they fully understood the interoperability issues. It advised any schools already using the Office 2007 suite to not save in Microsoft’s Open Office XML format, which no other product supports.

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