Recently a UK agency warned the schools against deals with Microsoft. Problem is the way Microsoft is licensing the software being sold. In the recent times Microsoft has moved towards leasing than selling, so that their revenue keeps building up by that single sale. As the Microsoft spokesperson said:
“We want to reassure our customers, partners and the education sector that it is business as usual.
And maybe this kind of licensing is a brilliant business move, but unfortunately schools and education institutions are not businesses. Perhaps that is the biggest problem. Educational institutions should be treated differently, whether it is software or licensing or money. However, what Becta is proposing might not be feasible for low budget schools.
Becta, the UK agency, raises a lot of other operational concerns, like compatibility of Microsoft Office 2007 with other office suites. But I believe at the core this licensing is doing two bad things:
- You are not really buying the software, it is more like leasing it.
- You are getting locked down to one vendor.
Some other problems that I have seen happen is that either the schools just do not upgrade and keep using older versions because of the cost, or worse use pirated copies. Both these situations can only be detrimental to the school and the students.
That is why I believe schools and education institutions can benefit a lot from open source. In India, some states are picking up on this. But I wonder why open source is not the choice for them. Microsoft should be the alternative.