Licensing changes for schools – there’s good news coming at BETT

Over the next few months, we are going to introduce some big changes to school licensing. It will make licensing simpler, and it will make it significantly cheaper for most schools in the UK. The big announcement of all of the detail will happen in January at BETT 2011 in London, but we're publishing some of the information a little earlier, so that you can think about it in your planning for next year's budget.

All of the following information is a high-level overview, but at the end there are some very specific actions for some schools now.

What changes are we making?

From the 1st March 2011, we are introducing a new licensing scheme for schools, called Enrolment for Education Solutions. Or EES for short. This is a (better!) alternative to the School Agreement subscription scheme.

  • EES works on a single annual subscription payment, based on your Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) staff count, and what products you select. You can optionally license computers dedicated exclusively to one student, or computers owned by students. Today's School Agreement works by counting all of your computers.
  • You have a choice of software that you can license across all of the computers, including Microsoft Office*, the Windows Upgrade, and the Client Access Licence (CAL) suites.
  • You can then license additional software on some, or all, of these computers - eg Visio or Project

Why is it good for schools?

Firstly, costs will come down for most schools who use School Agreement, because you'll be counting staff, not computers. And in England, there's about two-thirds less staff than there are computers. We'll be able to tell you more about costs at BETT.

Secondly, if you normally buy your software on a perpetual license (eg Select), then switching to this will reduce your annual bill substantially, as well as making sure you're always licensed for the latest version, whenever you choose to use it. This means the decision of when you move to the latest version of Windows or Office can be dictated by your teaching and learning needs, not by cost. Of course, because it's a subscription, you have to pay the subscription fee every year, but when you see the costs nearer the time, you'll understand why it's wise to seriously consider a subscription.

What do you do now?

Firstly, let me remind you that this is advance warning of a change coming on the 1st March 2011. So you can't get this new agreement now. But here's some advice on what you can do now:

  • If you are going to renew a School Agreement between now and the 1st March, ask your Microsoft partner whether you'd be best to get a short-term extension for your School Agreement. This would give you 3 months of cover, to take you through until you can switch to EES. Your Microsoft Partner will be able to advise you if this is likely to save you money.
  • If you're planning to buy any Microsoft software in the next year, then consider coming along to our BETT stand in January, and having a chat with us about your best option. If your Head Teacher is reluctant to sign off a day out of school, then point out how much you might save with the new way of counting (staff, not computers).
  • If you're not buying your software under a School Agreement subscription already, then take a look at this, and have a chat with other schools locally that are. Although the new EES scheme isn't the same, you'll get a good idea of the benefits of subscriptions over other methods, and that will help you to make the right informed choice for next year.

You can see an updated comparison of the main schemes for Microsoft licensing for schools here

We have published more advance detail on the Microsoft EES scheme here

* The version of Microsoft Office 2010 that's included is Professional Plus , which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Publisher, Access and Lync (Full details here)

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