Do As We Say, Not As We Do

It seems that Microsoft has won a 12 month extension to their UK schools contract. This is a bit of a surprise in light of last year’s Becta report which states:

“… open source software can provide a cost-effective and efficient solution in schools if effectively deployed. Becta believes that software used in schools should be of a high quality and adhere to open standards, enabling compatibility and interoperability between products.”

From the article:

The extension has drawn criticism from open source advocates in the UK who believe that Becta is undermining its own research by not encouraging the adoption of open source alternatives.

“We’d like to congratulate Becta for getting a discount on their season ticket for the Titanic,”

Gotta love that last quote. This goes to show how difficult it is to make these significant changes in our school systems. It seems that all of the research in the world alone, cannot fend off the strong, corporate influences in our contemporary school culture.

Update: Just after writing this post, I found an article titled “Becta report slams Microsoft academic licensing, dismisses Vista“. Here are some of findings from Becta’s new interim reports:

– Microsoft’s licensing arrangements in the education sector pose “significant potential for institutions to find themselves locked in to Microsoft”… and “very significant complexity… that has resulted in widespread use of inappropriate licensing strategies.”

– There are “a significant number of issues that need to be addressed before Vista should be considered for deployment in educational institutions” while “Becta has not yet been able to identify any realistic justification for the early adoption of Office 2007 across the educational ICT estate.”

Read more.

So why exactly is Becta renewing their contract with Microsoft? Am I reading something wrong?

One thought on “Do As We Say, Not As We Do

  1. “the Titanic”… LOL!

    That’s classic.

    The article has a pretty good list of reasons why not to stick with Microsoft. I found the last one interesting as it breaks the perception that free office programs are incompatible. It says –

    Using the default file format of Microsoft Office 2007… has the potential to exacerbate ‘digital divide’ issues as a result of the loss of interoperability with free-to-use products.

    I’m so used to hearing that it is free products that are incompatible instead of the truth – which is that MS Office formats are discriminating secrets.

    Of course, the report fails to mention the number one reason why these products should be shunned. They take away users’ freedom – even more so than XP and Office XP.

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