British Education Tech Agency Recommends No Vista, Office 2007

A strange headline caught my eye–the agency that governs educational technology in the UK (British Educational Communications and Technology Agency BECTA) recommends schools and colleges not upgrade to Windows Vista or Office 2007.

Windows Vista, Office 2007 Expelled From British Schools — Windows Vista — InformationWeek

Becta officials said a study the group commissioned found that upgrading school systems from Windows XP to Vista and Office 2007 would increase costs and create software compatibility problems while providing little benefit. “Our advice is to be sure there is a strong business case for upgrading to these products as the costs are significant and the benefits remain unclear,” said Stephen Lucy, Becta’s executive director of strategic technologies, in a statement…The agency said U.K. schools can consider using Vista or Office 2007 software only when they are buying new batches of PCs. Even then, however, they’re advised to take a long looked at alternatives based on Linux and other open source products, such as the desktop package. “Schools and colleges should make pupils, teachers and parents aware of the range of free-to-use products (such as office productivity suites) that are available, and how to use them,” Becta said.

We at TIE have made the change to Office 2007 (not Vista), and there is some justification with heavy-duty use of Excel and Access. It is more difficult to justify with casual/typical use of the product. Rumblings are that many tech coordinators in the area are reluctant to make the change. It does beg the question: are the benefits of Vista and Office 2007 worth the extra cost for South Dakota schools to eventually upgrade? While Microsoft has extended the deadlines for continued XP purchases and support, how much longer will they allow schools/businesses to stay with XP? Much of our state’s infrastructure is based on Microsoft, so the bigger question is: what is the better alternative?

What do you think?

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