Microsoft forcing UK schools to pay for software they don't use

The UK is getting a raw deal from Microsoft's subscription pricing.

As Slashdot reports, the UK government computer agency Becta is advising UK schools not to enmesh themselves in Microsoft's School Agreement subscription pricing. Why? Because while the subscription pricing may cost less, it actually introduces other problems:

Becta...suggests [schools] use instead what is known as "perpetual licensing"....

The advantage to schools in using a subscription service such as Microsoft's is that smaller, annual payments are involved rather than a larger one-off cost.

But a spokesman for Becta said the problem was that Microsoft required schools to have licences for every PC in a school that might use its software, whether they were actually doing so or running something else.

I have an even better suggestion. Get both perpetual rights to use and modify software to fit your needs, and pay a subscription to a vendor to deliver ongoing value. It's called open source. The UK hasn't dabbled much in this newfangled thing, but it's all the rage everywhere else.

In fact, Becta has suggested precisely this:

In a previous report, Becta said primary schools could typically save up to 50% and secondary schools more than 20% of their ICT costs if they switched to what is known as "open source" software.

The only thing you have to lose is your chains.... :-)

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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