Becta promises to do more to promote open source in UK schools

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Becta, the UK government agency responsible for technology in the education sector has promised to do more to promote the use of open source software within schools and colleges and has warned educational institutions in the UK against upgrading to Windows Vista and Microsoft Office.

Becta on Wednesday published its full report in to Vista and Office 2007 and has stuck to its interim view that migration to the new versions is not recommended as “the new features of Vista add some value but, taking account of the deployment costs and potential benefits, widespread upgrade of the ICT estate in schools and colleges is not recommended.” while “no widespread deployment of Office 2007 should take place until schools and colleges are sure that they have in place mechanisms to deal with the interoperability and potential digital divide issues”.

Becta and Microsoft have had a confrontational relationship in the past. Specifically, Becta is concerned that under Microsoft’s academic licensing programs schools are forced to pay for Vista and Office licenses for machines that are do not run, or are not capable of running, the software - including Apple Macs. Becta is also concerned that Microsoft’s use of converters to support the use of the OpenDocument Format effectively marginalizes the document format and discourages the adoption of office software alternatives.

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