The future of Microsoft licensing for schools

We're in the final throws of organising BETT (the lorry is loaded, and the final can of orange paint is in!), but I thought I'd take a couple of minutes out of my day to correct a little bit of confusion that's appeared in the press today - just in case you're worried by it.

ZDNet ran a story today about the closure of Becta (prompted by a committee report last month all about the closures of government quangos). I'm not silly enough to get into the politics of the argument, but one bit that jumped out at me was when it talked about the Becta agreement with Microsoft. Apparently, the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCSU) submitted written evidence to the committee saying that the Becta agreement with Microsoft ended in December 2010, and would not be renewed". (See paras 51 & 52 in this document).

As far as I know, the PCSU didn't check this with us before they said it, as we would have told them that it would have been extended beyond December 2010.

So, to put your minds at rest, here's the real position:

  • We have had an agreement with Becta which reduces the overall cost of school licences in the UK by about 20%. This still applies today, in 2011, and has been extended for a further six months.
  • This week, at BETT, we will announce a new licensing scheme for schools, which will arrive on the 1st March, which will reduce costs even more significantly (come along to the BETT stand and ask any of my colleagues to explain it to you, or check out an overview here)

So the real position is the exact opposite of the article - schools will actually get more flexible and better value licensing from 1st March 2011. More later this week.

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