back to article Children of Wales to be prepped for the vibrant world of work with free Office 365 ProPlus

The best part of half a million students in Wales will be able to get their hands on a free copy of Office 365 ProPlus as the Welsh Assembly lobs cash Redmond's way. The move will, according to a spokesperson for the Welsh government, see 1,521 "maintained" schools signed up to receive a dose of Microsoft's cloudy suite at a …

  1. Rupert Fiennes Bronze badge

    Microsoft are drugging Welsh schoolchildren?

    ProPlus means something else to to this Swansea graduate: lots of caffeine mostly :-)

    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: Is this confirmation that Microsoft products can cause the following side-effects?:-

      headache.

      acid reflux and gastric distress.

      diarrhea.

      reduction in calcium absorption, causing weakened bones.

      rapid heartbeat.

      high blood pressure.

      dizziness.

      insomnia.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Microsoft are drugging Welsh schoolchildren?

      In this case, also "First hit is (nearly) free". Just wait until they are hooked and the dealer starts charging them real street prices...

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Microsoft are drugging Welsh schoolchildren?

        "In this case, also "First hit is (nearly) free". Just wait until they are hooked and the dealer starts charging them real street prices..."

        Back in the days of DOS, I first came across this level of education discounts when Borland were selling their products at up to 80% discount to anyone who could demonstrate a link to education either as student or educator. Apple did the similar in US schools with the Apple ][, although I don't think the discount was that big.

        1. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge

          Re: Microsoft are drugging Welsh schoolchildren?

          And the multicolored (first-gen, CRT) iMac as well.

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "Welsh Assembly lobs cash Redmond's way."

    It's bad enough to see a public body doing promotional work for a commercial entity. To find that they're actually paying to do this is appalling.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    England

    So how am I being prevented to use this if I happen to be a resident of the goode olde England? Do they collect personal details / school details at sign up (and keep track of your usage later, presumably, for the good of mankind?)

    Not that I would ever infect my kids with office, free or paid for, that job's being done by their (England-based) school, just curious.

    1. gerdesj Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: England

      Well, Wales is a Principality of England (its properly complicated). You may find, unless the legal sharks are really on their game, that MS have actually given their shit out to the whole of the UKoGBnNI and the Dependencies and stuff. Given just how plain weird some of the relationships, treaties and history of this country are, there is a fair to middling chance that Canada, Australia, New Zealand North Island and Tasmania (South Island if here is an R in the month) and South Africa on Wednesdays through Friday are also covered.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: England

        "Wales is a Principality of England"

        No it isn't, that is a myth.It hasn't been a principality since the mid 1500s.

        1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: England

          You were downvoted for stating a fact.... I think there's a Trump supporter on the loose!

        2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

          Re: "Wales is a Principality of England"

          I think most of us would agree that the USA is a country.

  4. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    Those poor whale children...

    Being forced to use MS products?

    <Wailing>Won't someone think of the whale children?</pun>

  5. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Beware the Ides of March

    and out of season Father Christmasses from Redmond bearing gifts.

    For these poor children they will be forced to believe that

    TOWIM

    "The Only Way Is Microsoft"

    "As well as being a place in North Wales (Toywn)"

    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Re: Beware the Ides of March

      Tywyn

      (sorry to be a spelling pedant :-)

      M.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's good to be king

    Microsoft adopting a line from one of Mel Brooks movies.

    1. robidy

      Re: It's good to be king

      Wales in a principality...

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Re: It's good to be king

        Wales hasn't been a principality for about 500 years. Do keep up!

  7. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    As if there was any remaining doubt

    A leopard doesn't change its spots.

    Microsfot doesn't change its behaviour.

    P.S. Funny that. I keep making the same typo.

  8. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Final proof ...

    If your product is good, sell it to people. If your product is poor, sell it to businesses. If it is completely FUBAR, get it mandated by government.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Libre Office

    Bah. The money being squandered on this (and I'm sure the licensing won't be as cheap next year, eh?) would buy a fair chunk of developer time to improve Libre Office, although it is of course already perfectly usable for the vast majority of what these school children are likely to need an office suite for.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Libre Office

      And it also works on Linux and macOS, where as Office doesn't work on Linux.

      1. midcapwarrior

        Re: Libre Office

        "as Office doesn't work on Linux."

        Just like most students

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Libre Office

          "Just like most students"

          I've no idea what the national stats are, but there are a lot of schools out there deploying iPads and Chromebooks, both of which are more Linuxy than Windowsy.

        2. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge

          Re: Libre Office

          "as Office doesn't work on Linux."

          Just like most students

          They could easily learn Facebook/Instagram/whatever's new interface, but not a new operating system?

          They even adapt to Windows 01's ever-changing UI, but not Linux? Weird world.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Libre Office

      >Libre Office.....although it is of course already perfectly usable for the vast majority of what these school children are likely to need an office suite for.

      Like working in Welsh as it's your first language? It's a million miles from the MS offerings.The Gov isn't exactly naive or remiss in this area - they funded development of the best Welsh TTS available - which is now free for all schools and non-commercial types.

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: Libre Office

        £1.2m would pay for a lot of translators to improve the Welsh version of LibreOffice, and everyone in the country would benefit.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Libre Office

          "everyone in the country would benefit."

          No.. just the closed minded Welsh nationalists that stubbornly cling to the idea that Welsh is useful in the wider world. It just costs us a lot in additional signage and extra (Welsh language) copies of correspondence from Official sources

          I know many kids here in West Wales who hate being forced to sit through Welsh lessons and would rather have the time spent on learning a widely spoken European or Asian language, or even to hone the (often poor) English language skills.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Libre Office

            >No.. just the closed minded Welsh nationalists that stubbornly cling to the idea that Welsh is useful in the wider world.

            Speaking your native language is hardly stubborn. I know Poles who moved here a couple of years ago and are fluent, yet many (generally older) people born and educated in Wales can't master it despite free education, broadcast media and everything being bilingual.

            >would rather have the time spent on learning a widely spoken European or Asian language, or even to hone the (often poor) English language skills.

            Learning any additional language improves all your languages - learning the native tongue of the country you live in is a no brainer - unless you're English, one of the few countries in the world where people generally only speak a single (instead of two or three at least) languages.

            1. fiskrond

              Re: Libre Office

              Speaking it is not stubborn... FORCING it upon those who have no use nor care for a minority language that sounds like the wrong-end-of-a-blow job is left-wing minority fascism.

              It makes road-signage a serious problem for a start... no fucker wants to play scrabble at 70mph.

              They speak Gaelic in parts of Scotland.. but the authorities don't insist on it... there's a fucking huge difference. They moved on with the rest of the UK rather than stuck in the mindset of being 'special'.. there's nothing unique about Wales or anywhere else.. the only thing that is 'special' about Wales is the low mean IQ..

              I am born, bred, and unfortunately residing in this dysfunctional country.

              1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

                Re: Libre Office

                ... well move out, and help us raise the mean IQ...

          2. Mr Slasher

            Re: Libre Office

            "I know many kids here in West Wales who hate being forced to sit through Welsh lessons and would rather have the time spent on learning a widely spoken European or Asian language, or even to hone the (often poor) English language skills."

            The alternative scenario you imply is that no-one will learn any Welsh and this ancient language will die out. The Welsh culture, which is a key part of our national identity, will then disappear. There will be no need for place names and signs in Welsh. Kids in Wales will then be no different to kids in England. They can disband the football and rugby teams and stop using one of the world's most beautifully poetic and musical National anthems since no-one will know the words or care what they mean. Wales will be another English holiday destination.

            This is what the English have always wanted, they have tried so hard to kill off the language and the Welsh identity down the centuries, even in the 1970s when I was in school. English incomers (possibly unconsciously) bring that mentality with them. It seeps into the locals so that the natives have more in common with the English than with their forebears.

            Perhaps you want everyone - everywhere - to speak English. It makes life easier for English speakers, all transactions are in English, those foreigners can't pull a fast one or talk about you behind your back.

            Poor English skills are not related to the teaching of Welsh (or another language) in schools. They would probably rather play on their smartphones or hang out with friends, not learn another language.

            Their parents may well have voted Leave, the usual reason being because they don't like foreigners / immigrants - at least non-white, non-English ones - so they're not going to be up for learning foreign languages.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Libre Office

          >£1.2m would pay for a lot of translators to improve the Welsh version of LibreOffice.

          Unicorns tomorrow seems to be in vogue at the moment.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Libre Office

          "£1.2m would pay for a lot of translators to improve the Welsh version of LibreOffice, and everyone in the country would benefit."

          And Patagonia, too!

      2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        Re: Libre Office

        Please try to understand the difference between "free" and "bundled". Years ago Microsoft worked hard to have Windows bundled with every computer. It was never free. Every computer included about the same amount of Microsoft tax. It took years of court hearings to get the right to recover Microsoft tax from the suppliers plus time and effort to actually get the money back for each individual computer.

        This new deal does an end run around that ruling and funnels tax payers' money directly to Microsoft.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Libre Office

      I have been resisting my family in using Office on our home PC since we got a new PC. LibreOffice and sometimes Google Slides when the presentation part of LibreOffice doesn't work very well (transitions).

      It's never been about the money its about showing that you don't need to use Microsoft and to show that they are compatible (in the main). Now the school might be promoting - "hey kids you can install this at home for free and use it also" and " make sure all your work is done in Office so I can read it" etc.

      They already have Google Apps in school which work fine (and whatever you think of Google the principle of not believing you HAVE to use Microsoft is worthy)

  10. Dwarf Silver badge

    Anyone got any views on the speed / availability of Broadband Internet in Wales ?

    Every time I go there, I struggle to get a mobile signal and due to the hilly rural nature, similarly broadband speeds are very slow - I recall having dial-up type throughput at one place where I could barely get a VoIP call up and running and the line was so unstable that it failed when it rained, which is of course not at all common in Wales.

    So, how will this always on app thing work then ?

    Who's providing all the computers and maintaining them ?

    Can someone also explain how this helps teaching children, since as far as I know, there is no built-in teaching in any Office product - that's the job of the teacher.

    Arguably, learning to click on the wiggly red line and accepting the first thing that comes up is far worse than a teacher correcting a spelung mustake. With the former, there is no learning. With the latter, the teacher knows what needs working on with the student.

    Computers are great things, but not solutions to all life's problems and in any case, giving money to Microsoft is not something we should be promoting.

    I'd have preferred if they put the money into the school teachers pay packets or into the schools - that's something that directly improves the education.

    1. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

      click on the wiggly red line

      Lots of adult users seem to just ignore the multi-coloured wiggly lines. Which is worse? The abstract art of the wiggly lines or the unwiggled nonsense if you click them away?

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: click on the wiggly red line

        If you haven't learned how to make the wiggly lines not appear in the first place then you fail at IT.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: click on the wiggly red line

          "If you haven't learned how to make the wiggly lines not appear in the first place then you fail at IT."

          Oh, I dunno. When I produce technical documentation, there are invariably many wiggly lines. The spall chucker might not know the word (yet), but that doesn't make it incorrect.

          As a case in point, I note with some amusement that both spall and chucker are unknown to this browser.

      2. P. Lee Silver badge

        Re: click on the wiggly red line

        Regardless of how good or bad LibreOffice is, this does seem unnecessary.

        Is there anything to be gained academically from providing children with this?

        Someone seems to have lost focus on what education is supposed to achieve.

        Has anyone considered that the process of looking something up in a dictionary manually would be both cheaper and more effective at teaching correct spelling?

  11. alain williams Silver badge

    How much is the Welsh gov't being paid ...

    to take on some of the function of the MS marketing department ? Pushing this stuff to school kids thus ensuring that it is what they will expect to use when they enter employment ... and complain if given anything else.

    Oh, you mean Wales is paying MS, not the other way round !!!

    Education should be about teaching kids how to use computers and a variety of software products.

    Training is teaching kids to use one product.

    How low our education has slumped.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: How much is the Welsh gov't being paid ...

      "Education should be about teaching kids how to use computers and a variety of software products."

      "Education should be about teaching kids."

      FTFY (The methods and tools used are not relevant, generally. I'd hope that in IT lessons, the range of computers and software is a bit wider, but in all the other subjects, it's the teaching of that subject that matters so you use what's available.)

  12. Blockchain commentard Silver badge

    How soon will licenses end up on Ebay from hard up school IT admins?

  13. The Nazz Silver badge

    Meanwhile in Bristol ....

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-england-bristol-47656370/bristol-nursery-locks-toys-away-for-a-month

    They've locked all the toys (apt) away and given the kids cardboard boxes and tin cans to play with. From reports, the kids appear far more happier and play much more imaginatively.

    I'm not a fan of the word "students" for hitherto school pupils, but from what age does this take effect? Even the 3, 4 years olds in pre-school? Pre-school, many of which are actually attached to and run by schools.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Meanwhile in Bristol ....

      "given the kids cardboard boxes"

      There is *nothing* as much fun as a cardboard box you can fit into.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Meanwhile in Bristol ....

        A bigger cardboard box that you can fit four or five into is *much* funner!

  14. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Our Labour Welsh Government is wonderful

    They have a marvellous track record of 'spaffing' (as I believe the current idiom is) money on some rather badly thought out projects. Typically - but not exclusively - support for companies that go bust shortly afterwards.

    This looks like another doozy.

    They're spending £22 per head per year for Office for school students.

    From the Microsoft website:

    "Get Office 365 for free. It's not a trial! Students and teachers are eligible for Office 365 Education, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and now Microsoft Teams, plus additional classroom tools. All you need to get started is to enter a valid school email address below...."

    That's for the A1 version - which I suspect is probably enough for the average school pupil, although it does need an internet connection to use Word online.

    Another triumph for Labour!

    I really can't wait for 2021 to roll around when we can get a Plaid Cymru government and independence.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Our Labour Welsh Government is wonderful

      "That's for the A1 version - which I suspect is probably enough for the average school pupil, although it does need an internet connection to use Word online."

      Not everyone has internet access at home, especially the more rural areas. Homework might be a bit of an issue if it only works online and Labour would be in for even more of a shoeing if they bought in a system that excluded the poorer segment of the school population.

      1. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: Our Labour Welsh Government is wonderful

        Wouldn't count myself as one of the poorer parents, but I'm blowed if I'm shelling out for two or three copies of Windows just in order to be able to install the non-cloudy part of O365 when I have several perfectly usable installations of LibreOffice (and the Welsh interface isn't dreadful) already installed.

        It's bad enough that the children are forced to use Google Docs for much of their homework. I don't want them indoctrinated in MS as well. Not sure about the Welsh Language interface of OS365, but the Google one isn't much better than the LO one as far as I can tell.

        M.

    2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: Our Labour Welsh Government is wonderful

      >> "Get Office 365 for free. It's not a trial!"

      I think you'll find that Office 365 is almost always a trial. Whenever it becomes not a trial, they change some obvious function to hide it away somewhere obscure.

  15. Giles C

    They don’t know what the wiggly red line is in Morrisons

    Sign in the local shop today.

    All fridges and frezeers are down today due to a powerfailer last night.

    Honestly.... I can’t add a picture on here or would include the photo that I took this morning

  16. fiskrond

    Oriface 365

    Just a pity that LibreOffice has yet to get [CTRL]+[R] for 'Fill Right' working in their spreadsheet...

    Soon as they do that (why haven't they?).. I can gladly jump the M$ ship

    The whole 'ribbon' thing does not work for me... at all..

    1. jake Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Oriface 365

      They haven't because someone(s) decided that <ctrl>+R is right-justify, which arguably is more useful to most office suite users than right-fill ... However, you can use Tools > Customize to change things around to suit yourself in LO. This is one of the first things I showed Dad (He's Mom's first line tech support).

      Glad to help you jump ship. This round's on me :-)

  17. Simon B-52

    "coding in the Vales"

    This article's sub-title mentions "coding in the Vales".

    Where does coding come in to this sad story of Welsh government paying to M$ise a generation of schoolkids as they're turned into data entry drones?

    1. Walter Bishop Silver badge

      Re: "coding in the Vales"

      > Where does coding come in to this sad story ..

      Yea, if you want to learn programming then best to use a real Integrated Development Environment (IDE).

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Its not much different to what schools do now...

    I work for a bunch of schools and the cheapest way of licencing Office and windows is through volume licencing - indeed this is the only way to get Win10 Edu (which i do think is a pain when hardware comes prelicenced with Pro)

    The standard OVS tiers, had the proplus entitlement included - licencing has changed over the past few months so I dont know which is which currently, this is all activated through the students O365 login so no selling keys on ebay!

    so looks as though wales has managed to cut a deal and get better pricing than the individual schools would have managed so where is the harm in that... I know I will be downvoted for this, but MS Office has parts that just work better than LibreOffice or other FOSS products, other than deployment and customisation made easier than writing conf files by hand, there is a wealth of help, how tos and almost all example documents are written with office in mind. Publisher is a big pain when it comes to non microsoft products - again lots of premade lesson resource is produced using this, so the saving in software is ushed onto the shoulders of the already overworked staff to rewrite material for their class...

    the licence allows proplus on any platform - ios, android, mac, PC, so I dont see how helping the kids is a bad thing! yes, in a perfect world it would all be free, but somethings it doesnt hurt to pay for... im sure you would rather have a job than be outsourced to a free version that was almost as useful as you are, but not quite!

  19. Walter Bishop Silver badge
    Linux

    Free at £1.2m a year?

    .. half a million students in Wales will be able to get their hands on a free copy of Office 365 ProPlus .. The move will .. see 1,521 .. schools signed up .. at a cost of £1.2m a year.’

    And they could achieve the same functionality on a bootable USB device at zero cost per year and instead spend the money on education. Of course these kind of charitable offers wouldn't have anything to do with keeping alien Operating Systems out of the schools.

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