back to article Blighty's schools shake on new 3-year deal with Microsoft

The Department for Education claims a three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Microsoft will save schools £10m on licensing over the next three years, in part by "factoring freeware" into the deal. The agreement began 1 January and runs until the end of 2015 giving schools across the UK the option to buy Microsoft …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. t20racerman
    Linux

    Feed the children Microsoft crack whilst young....

    ... and they stay hooked for life. :-(

    I'm a Physics teacher in the UK and despair of the "All computers and Software are made by Microsoft" approach in FAR too many schools. OOo or Libre Office, Firefox, Chrome etc are all BANNED from being used in my school as 'dangerous' to the network'! Open Source is deemed as virus riddled insecure stuff and is all banned... although we use Java!!!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Re: Feed the children Microsoft crack whilst young....

      I agree, teach them using Open Office and Linux, then when they hit the real world where 99% of businesses use MS Office they will be as useless at that, as many other things you teach them in school.

      This Mr Teacher is what happens when people live in the academic world and not the business world, they live in a fantasy utopia that lives in the land of theory and ideal scenarios and not reality.

      Don't worry happens at universities as well, if not more.

      I'm happy for them to have a mix to open their eyes, but to exclude MS completely is just a stupid, stupid move.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "but to exclude MS completely is just a stupid, stupid move"

        I agree, but don't see why the tax payer should pay MS here as it is, in effect, a free advert and product promotion.

        Hell, it might be the case that if enough big gov users have Linux as an OS of choice but are open to MS they would offer Office for it. That would benefit everyone really.

      2. Blane Bramble
        FAIL

        Re: Feed the children Microsoft crack whilst young....

        The problem is, by the time you've gone through GCSE's, A levels and university, the latest version of Office that is going to be used in the real world is likely to be as different to the one you learnt as OpenOffice or anything else is. Add to this the "parrot-style" tuition that often passes for computer literacy these days, and very few kids have the skills to use a word processor or a spreadsheet - instead they have a qualification for Word 20xx and Excel 20yy.

        1. dogged
          Meh

          Re: Feed the children Microsoft crack whilst young....

          Since they only did this to troll Eadon, I'd call it a roaring success.

          Also, there's support bundled. It's probably just as expensive to go FOSS when you count in support and maybe more so when you consider retraining all those part-time school admins/maths teachers, who frankly have better things to do anyway.

      3. AntiPoser
        Facepalm

        Re: Feed the children Microsoft crack whilst young....

        MS has it's place but the market has moved on to "Smart Devices" most of these do not use MS Office my kids can use Polaris Office equally well as they can use MS Office. I say stop teaching kids how to use MS Products and teach them about Computing.

    2. mrweekender
      Megaphone

      Re: Feed the children Microsoft crack whilst young....

      "I agree, teach them using Open Office and Linux, then when they hit the real world where 99% of businesses use MS Office they will be as useless at that, as many other things you teach them in school."

      Yeah or we could just carry on churning out MS Office drones who know dick about actual computing. I suggest you get back to the mid 90's where you belong. The Microsoft Office "era" is over, if our kids need MS Office skills then offer it as a side subject (as we used to with typing) and get this useless shit off the main curriculum for good.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Feed the children Microsoft crack whilst young....

      Force-feed the children Microsoft crack whilst young....

      There... fixed that for you. O:-)

      It's not like there's any choice. It is, of course, ILLEGAL to neglect to indoctrinate "educate" your children... and you're hardly going to find a school/curriculum which doesn't impose a strictly enforced Microsoft indoctrination regimen onto its subjects... so other than chuck-in your career to inflict some third rate hippy DIY "home schooling" on your progeny, there doesn't appear to be any parental say/choice/dissent permitted whatsoever.

  2. frank ly Silver badge

    Sounds like a good deal??

    "... more cost effective choices that include "using alternative and free to use software".

    I know people who have 'free to use' software that they obtained from 'alternative' sources. Is this a similar thing?

    "there is no obligation to buy stuff from the Redmond software giant though, and under the terms of the deal they will not be penalised for using an alternative."

    Some negotiating genius managed to get Microsoft to allow schools to use non-Microsoft products without paying a penalty to Microsoft? Just like I persuaded Ford to sell me a car and not pay a penalty if I fitted it with some cheap Vauxhall car mats?

    Do Microsoft routinely impose these sorts of conditions on bulk-buy customers, because it sounds like they do.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sounds like a good deal??

      Yup.

      You didn't think that the "OEM" sector was the only market they'd infected with this shit?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Evil fuckwits

    Flushing a generation of our children's IT educations down the bog for the sake of a fat backhander.

    Who the hell's supposed to care if you got a GCSE in clicking on buttons in some shite propitiatory office app which was superseded ten years ago and has since been pissed about beyond recognition?

    1. MrXavia
      FAIL

      Re: Evil fuckwits

      Try reading the article, they've made a deal to allow them to use FOSS software without extracting a penalty in the terms, i.e. prices stay low even if they use Open Office rather than Microsoft Office, where usually they would only get a discount if they guaranteed to buy both....

      I suspect this is a good deal they have, that gives them a good discount on standard prices!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Evil fuckwits

        Try reading the article, they've made a deal to allow them to use FOSS software without extracting a penalty in the terms, i.e. prices stay low even if they use Open Office rather than Microsoft Office, where usually they would only get a discount if they guaranteed to buy both....

        Some derisory token "deal" to (on paper) end a sinister and probably unlawful monopoly is hardly worth getting excited about, is it? It's not like they've announced the actual introduction of some IT or other such heresy into the national indoctrination curriculum.

      2. The BigYin

        Re: Evil fuckwits

        "to allow them to use FOSS software"

        The article says "freeware". That may or may not be F/OSS.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. Magnus_Pym

    I know how

    "said Education Secretary Michael Gove, who didn't say how much nor how the government reached the £10m figure."

    Same as all Government finances.

    1. Write the headline figure

    2. ?

    3. Announce

  5. MrXavia
    Thumb Up

    If I read that right , it Sounds like an actual win for the gov for a change, no penalties if they use free software, i.e. open source!

    I understand why schools teach MS windows & office, its because of its prevalence in industry...

    BUT if we start teaching kids about linux & Open/Libre Office now, then in 5-6 years time we will have a mass of Linux savvy kids and THAT would cut the costs of training for businesses wanting to use FOSS software.. and saving British Industry money!

  6. g e
    WTF?

    "Not be penalised"

    By Microsoft for not buying from Microsoft?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Not be penalised"

      I think it would usually go like this:

      If you buy all your stuff from me, I'll give you a discount, if you buy some of your stuff from my rival, I won't.

      Bearing this in mind, the government have had a bit of a win here by getting a discount from a supplier and still being free to use the supplier's rivals.

      1. vagabondo
        Thumb Down

        Re: "Not be penalised"

        "the government have had a bit of a win here ..."

        But no-ones saying how much the school budget will be paying MS in return foeer this £10million "saving", or how much of MS's UK profits will be shipped to a tax-haven.

      2. AntiPoser
        Thumb Down

        Re: "Not be penalised"

        MS Agreements can not prevent you from using freeware, they are hoping given the choice no one will use Open Source...they know the easy route is the most commonly chosen...then when the School system exceeds the agreed upon numbers of products they can come in, audit and demand payments for these infringing licenses to match the rest of the agreed contract.

  7. teapot9999
    WTF?

    Should be free

    If Microsoft want all kids brain-washed into thinking theirs is the only software then they should be providing it free to schools.

    Also, if schools already have a version of Office, why do they need to upgrade?

    My 8 year old son was set homework he had to do on Powerpoint the other day - ridiculous.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Should be free

      I agree with that, and if my son is ever sent home work that he has to do using a specific piece of software, my next phone call will be to the school to ask them to supply the hardware and software to do so!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Should be free

        in fact, parental purchases of microsoft products is probably the benefit of this deal to microsoft.

        michael gove triumphs again, leading the country into the future

    2. g e
      FAIL

      Re: Should be free

      Or they should provide free copies to students expected to present work using their damned software.

      Libre Office isn't accepted at our boys' school for some stuff.

      Even worse, though, they're being taught their AS/A2 ICT-computing or whatever it's called this week.. with VISUAL BASIC ...

      FFS.

      1. Luke 12
        Stop

        Re: Should be free

        And what is exactly wrong with Visual Basic?

        I learn't to program using BBC BASIC and Then later Java before I moved onto VB.NET and C#. I've mucked about with Python, Ruby, Perl and a bit of C.

        While I agree VB has some syntactical problems and oddities it has you can still practice all the basic concepts which are transferrable to any langauge.

      2. AceRimmer
        Stop

        Re: Should be free

        The pupils probably are entitiled to a MS Office license to use at home, Microsoft licenses for students means that the licenses which the schools buy for use in the school can (under the right circumstances) also be extended to the students using the software outside of the school too

        Check out student licencing here:

        http://www.microsoft.com/uk/education/schools/software-licensing/types-of-educational-licence/SESP-agreement/default.aspx

      3. Don Jefe

        Re: Should be free

        Libre office won't do much of what your child will need to know. Not using MS Office in school is like teaching kids Esparanto as a second language.

        1. AntiPoser
          Meh

          Re: Should be free

          So what you saying is why learn English as Spanish is the most spoken language across the world. We should only learn Spanish then. Let me also point out that the more common used operating system is not Windows but Linux in our new Kids world. These are all Linux Based (OSx, Android, Ubuntu). Yes I even have clients who use no MS products in there entire business, only Linux and products like Open Office.

  8. HollyHopDrive

    £10 million over 3 years...

    ....is surely a piss in the ocean. Thats just £3.3 a year. I don't know how many schools there are but it sounds like peanuts per school. Sounds to me like they'd save just as much if they used cheaper Biros.

    Gove is a complete twat.

    1. HollyHopDrive
      Linux

      Re: £10 million over 3 years...

      I don't normally answer my own posts but I couldn't resist.

      assuming the following sources are true then the number of schools in England is

      Primary : 16,971 ( http://tinyurl.com/reg-prim )

      Secondary: 3,127 ( http://tinyurl.com/reg-sec )

      Giving you 20,098 schools. Now take your £10m and divide it and you get £497.56 per school over the 3 years or £165.85 per year per school.

      Well done, all those schools are going to be able to really enhance their educational experiences with that!

      I know that is probably a slightly simplistic approach but its probably not far off the truth.

      (Penguin Icon: we need to get open source into education if only to prove there is more than one way to solve a problem)

    2. g e
      Linux

      Re: £10 million over 3 years...

      I can save that clown 10 Million.

      See icon.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: £10 million over 3 years...

        @ g e

        No, you'd save that clown (and schools/taxpayers) hundreds of millions.

  9. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Re: Kids taught to use Windows, which is inferior proprietary software

      I could not agree more.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Kids taught to use Windows, which is inferior proprietary software

        My son's school used to do everything based on Office but when younger son started 4 years later they'd ditched all that ... everything is based on Google docs now - I'm not convinced its an improvement!

        1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Kids taught to use Windows, which is inferior proprietary software

      @Eadon - The vast majority of ICT teaching in schools is not teaching computing, programming or computer science, it's teaching the use of computers and other associated communications technologies with a specific slant towards what's needed in the workplace. They are certainly not being taught about Operating Systems, rather conceptually about how a desktop works and how the software that they're likely to use in business is operated, this can be done on Apple, MS, Linux, whatever. The main issue is that pretty much every company in the country uses MS office, so the schools can either send kids into the workplace with the skills required in the package that they will need to use, or then can give them an education which won't leave them as well prepared for work. Until businesses change their practices, schools are probably doing the right thing here, in my opinion.

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    3. Luke 12

      Re: Kids taught to use Windows, which is inferior proprietary software

      Except I know a lot of confessed Linux users that didn't understand the difference between basic computer concepts such as "ROM vs RAM" and why a modern operating system expects a swap file.

      Using Linux doesn't magically teach you the underlying principle of how a computer works, which hasn't really changed since I was mucking about on a hand me down BBC Micro in the early 90s.

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        1. AceRimmer

          Re: Kids taught to use Windows, which is inferior proprietary software

          Last time I checked, the "computer" on a Raspberry Pi was encased in a square of plastic about the size of a postage stamp and completely hidden from view. Not that I would be able to see how it works without a decent microscope anyway!

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ohhh Baby [Was: Re: Kids taught to use Windows, which is inferior proprietary software]

      "The government should put a stop to schools training kids to be MS mouse-pushers and teach them real computing - a proper operating system (POSIX) and one that is open source. (Linux / BSD etc)."

      Eadon... Linux and BSD? You said, "BSD" Eadon... "BSD"!! Gawd, you're so sexy when you talk like that! ;)

  10. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    alternatives

    I see that they won't be penalised for using alternative software such as open-source.

    oh how generous of MS to allow that. why not make every parent or guardian buy a lifetime Windows licence at the same time.

    the old argument about teaching kids with Windows and Office because that's what used in 'the real world' is starting to wear thin methinks. yes of course MS still have the market share but you know for the small er business the alternatives are looking really good at the moment.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: alternatives

      @Chris - The thing is that MS Office is what's used in the vast majority of companies.

      1. hplasm Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: alternatives

        Oh No! Companies use computers not supplied by RM- our kids are doomed.

        "What is the matter Miss Smith?" "Sorry sir, I can't send you that spreadsheet, the computers at school had grey keyboards, but the Company ones are black - I can't use them..."

        Really...

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I work in schools, and the quantity of software that cannot be replicated with free/open source is colossal...

    Its very easy to say use a Linux based teaching alternative, but the truth is the teachers have enough issues controlling the kids and using Microsoft, let alone having to cope with totally alien software and operating systems.

    We trailed the use of OO and found it a pain to deploy consistently, We use OSX on some machines, but they are now gathering dust as the staff are having issues coming to grips with the change (yes, we have tried training, but we cant afford to pay overtime to train the staff with more than the rudimentary skills to operate the machines and getting supply in to train staff during school hours is still expensive and counter productive to the students education.)

    Our cheap to run MFC's lack proper Linux support, they even run in a limited capacity on the OSX machines, 90% of our educational software is windows only, we have some cross platform stuff, but non MS tends to be a revision or more behind the windows equivalent. - as a comparison, imagine the ios app store is the current crop of teaching resources for windows... how would you feel if your child's education was then downgraded to use less than the availibity on windows phone marketplace...

    Office is not the only software used in school...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Afternoon RICHTO

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @AC 10:41

        Come on, they can't be RICHTO as they have not claimed that FOSS is much more vulnerable then Windows!

        1. Matt_payne666

          Re: @AC 10:41

          what's RICHTO???

          1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

            2. vagabondo

              Re: @AC 10:41

              a pro-Microsoft poster

              That "pro" as in "professional".

  13. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

    An alternative proposal

    Since MS are so keen to hook the school kids on today as potential customers of the future, surely it would make more sense for them to be paying for the privilege?

    The negotiations should go along the lines of:

    Government procurement officer: If you want any children in this country to grow up using any of your SW you'll need to pay £100 per student per year.

    Salesman: No, you miss understand this relationship, I'm a salesman, you are supposed to give me money.

    GPO: There's a door over there, have they taught you how to use one yet? Come back when your advertising department have explained to you just how much this deal is worth... to you

    1. vagabondo
      Thumb Up

      Re: An alternative proposal

      And MS and Adobe should be paying hefty product placement fees for all the HMRC, Companies House, DWP, etc. compulsory government submissions that can only be made using their software.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It would be great to outfit schools with open source wizz bangery but you'll find that the majority of non-techy parent expect kids to learn how to use MS Office as do most businesses.

    Also most authorities simply are not flexible enough to have staff who can competently manage software from a source other than MS. The MS stuff all ties back to centralised control which makes managing it simpler and more importantly cheaper.

    So you're not wrong that unfortunately kids are being taught to be consumers (the push for Apple/tablet everything is even worse) but other factors are in the mix to scupper things.

    1. yossarianuk

      So the tax payer should just keep funding a patent troll that prevents innovation and makes inferior software.

    2. vagabondo
      Meh

      Chicken and egg. Most businesses use MS because that's all that school-leavers know.

  15. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  16. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  17. James Gosling
    Facepalm

    A couple of points....

    I used to be a Network Manager in a school, I would make these two points:

    1.) I came across numerous instances where national curriculum materials were specifically written around Microsoft products - I think that is wrong. I also encountered Microsoft centric attitudes throughout the education system. I remember being issued with computer based exams endorsed by the department for education which could only be run on Microsoft Windows.

    2.) The idea that schools need for example Microsoft Office because most companies use word and therefore students would not be prepared if they were taught to use, for example, Libre Office is absolutely ridiculous. It's not the business of schools to provide Microsoft training... introducing students to what a word processor is sure, and Libre Office is a logical product to use because its free and its is widely compatible. If we are saying that a student who has used Libre Office at school would not be able to use Microsoft Office in a workplace then I really worry about about their ability to sit at and work at an office desk without a teacher standing in front of them! I mean, be serious!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A couple of points....

      I remember being issued with computer based exams endorsed by the department for education which could only be run on Microsoft Windows.

      Could you have run them on Wine?

      I realise that Wine is a slow, bloated, buggy hack... so it's pretty close to a perfect replica. ...and the "up yours" irony would be joyful.

      1. OSC
        Linux

        Re: A couple of points....

        WINE is neither slow nor bloated - these benchmarks are ancient - current version is 1.5.19

        http://wiki.winehq.org/BenchMark-0.9.33

  18. David Pollard

    Commentards Unite!

    MPs may not take much notice of a single letter, but some of them must be looking for issues that they can take up to improve their popularity. Equally if commentards with children at school can find the time and take the trouble to send a brief and well-presented argument for OSS and ODF to the Board of Governors this too might begin to have an effect.

    http://www.writetothem.com/

    A reference to relevant Reg articles and comments can hopefully provide some scope for recipients and allow a more terse letter which is more likely to be read. They can't all be duffers in the Department of Education, can they?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    >They can't all be duffers in the Department of Education, can they?

    My finger was hovering over the green arrow right the way through your post... up until I got to that last sentence... then inexplicably lunged to the right and started furiously clicking on the red one.

    Sorry about that!

  20. David Pollard

    @AC It hadn't been my intention to be gratuitously insulting. I'd presumed a certain amount of similarity with the Environment Agency, with which I have had some dealings. The Peter Principle, promotion to the level of incompetence, really does seem to be valid.

    About a decade ago a friend of mine had been called in to help draft the maths part of National Curriculum. The English section was already more or less finished. She was frustrated and somewhat disgusted by an overall requirement that had been imposed. It had been decreed from on high that the course structure and format of Mathematics should be more or less identical with English, despite the huge differences in the nature of the subjects and the ways in which they are best taught. More recently, another friend worked for a while in a government educational supply department. The level of waste was shocking.

    So, please accept my apologies if I was inadvertently rude to any government employees who are working to make things better. My aim had been hopefully to stir a bit of discontent in the ranks and thus promote change.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @David Pollard:

      Jesus! I wasn't expecting that! You misunderstood me. It had been my intention to be gratuitously sarcastic and insolent.

      The intended gist of my cynical, snide, pseudo-fatuous rebuke had been more along the lines of:

      "Well, d-uh! Of course they're all duffers in the Department of Education. Have you seen what they've done to the education system? FFS! QED"

      The last thing I'd expected was to be mistaken for sincere and thus solicit a thoughtful and considered reply. I keep forgetting you can't do sarcasm in type. Still, I'm glad I was misinterpreted. I prefer your interpretation, and the reply it provoked is certainly a valuable addition to the discussion. Well done me! ;o)

      Anyway, there is a (somewhat cynical, again, I'm afraid!) point to this post...

      Re. Your initial thought that perhaps there's someone sane and conscientious on high who might hear and heed our cries. I doubt it. The prostitutes in Rio (or wherever the minute fraction of our money that gets directed back at them in inducements leads them) are probably far too comfortable. If stuff like this: http://royalsociety.org/education/policy/computing-in-schools/report/ can't change their course, I don't hold much hope for our insignificant potty-mouthed clique of geek-plebs. I'm not always this cynical. Honest! I blame the topic. ...but perhaps the mere (public) existence of stuff like that report is a sign that the dark veil might be lifting. Despite the cynicism , this commentard's fingers are firmly crossed.

      I've reversed my clicking episode. Please accept my apologies as although I was intentionally rude to a fellow commentard who is working to make things better, my aim had been hopefully to stir a bit of discontent in the ranks and thus promote change.

      Good luck with your stirrings!

  21. David Glasgow

    The point is not 'cost money', it's 'cost minds'

    I am the proud possessor of what is possibly one of the first secondary level qualifications in IT. We did CESIL, a bit of ALGOL , some flow charting, and an introduction to FORTRAN. The examination included reading a section of paper tape.... by eye.

    The fact that none of these specific skills are a direct value to me now is irrelevant. The education was catholic, and meant that my understanding and use of IT evolved with the technology and needs. I don't think it matters that my kids have all learned to use MS products under the flag of computer science. They are smart enough to adapt to a different Office suite if you plonked them in front of it. The problem is that they are really restricted by not doing much other than MS Office.

    I suspect that things may be changing though. The two eldest achieved GCSEs without ever doing anything remotely non MS. However, the youngest (12) recently showed me some LOGO he had written, and when I squeaked in recognition he asked "did they have LOGO back in your day dad?" So. No history of programming taught either, eh?

  22. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    I can remember the girls (yes it was very sexist in those days) being taught to use Word Perfect... "because that's what you'll be using in the office".

    That worked out well didn't it?

    1. Androgynous Crackwhore
      Facepalm

      That worked out well didn't it?

      Yup.

      Roaring success.

      Now the boys are getting that treatment too!

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meanwhile Asian schools teach their children worthless crap like circuit design and programming. What the hell good would elitist mumbo-jumbo like that be in our "economy" of shop clerks and hairdressers? I for one am glad that our dear leaders have turned our IT education into A FUCKING SHAM

  24. Trapster
    Mushroom

    I haven't seen this magical licensing

    I'm an IT Manager in several schools and I sure as hell haven't seen this licensing.

    Schools are left to sort this out themselves. The only help I've been offered is from my LEA (run by Capita) who for an EES schools agreement are actually MORE expensive per user than going direct to Capita themselves!

    It's all tosh, central government doesn't hand licenses, or subsidies out to schools for licensing costs. We have to do it ourselves out of own budgets.

  25. AntiPoser
    Happy

    MS vs Linux

    Seem this is about MS vs Linux, so passion comes into play. I do believe governments should try to save where possible but at the same time schools have to prepare kids for the real world. I would like my kids to leave school understanding the basics of what MS has to offer but also what Linux has to offer so they can make informed choices for themselves not become MS Clones or Linux clones. The desktop / PC Era is showing a decline we are seeing smart devices, virtual desktops etc etc...I would like my kids to understand these technologies not just be MS Clones. Teach them about Computing SW, HW and the market as a whole, most teenagers can manage office products (whatever they are) better than the teachers who teach them..

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019