The British educational IT agency Becta is warning schools not to sign licensing agreements with Microsoft. Accusing the company of anti-competitive practises, Becta filed a complaint at the Office of Fair Trading in late October.
In a statement Becta says it has tried in vain to negotiate with Microsoft to resolve limitations in the educational licenses. The company places limitations on schools, demanding a licence for every PC regardless of whether or not its software is installed. Microsoft applications also creates interoperability difficulties for schools, pupils and parents who wish to use alternatives to Microsoft's Office suite, including 'free to use' alternatives.
"Our advice to schools in relation to the deployment of Office 2007 remains that schools and colleges should only deploy this software when its interoperability with alternative products is satisfactory. That would necessarily imply effective support by Microsoft of the internationally approved ODF file format."
Becta hopes that the complaint at the Office of Fair Trading will step will make Microsoft address the issues. "In the interim, we advice schools not to considering moving to Microsoft's School Agreement subscription licensing model."
According to a news item on the BBC website, Becta had earlier advised schools to increase their use of Open Source software. Becta estimates primary schools can save up to 50 per cent of their ICT costs. For secondary schools the savings are estimated around 20 per cent.
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