UK Schools warned to avoid a Microsoft deal

The UK computer agency Becta is advising schools that are considering moving to Microsofts School Agreement subscription not to sign licensing agreements with Microsoft because of alleged anti-competitive practices. The agency reminds schools they are legally obliged to have licensed software, but suggests they use instead what is known as quot; perpetual licensing quot;, which gives the permanent right to use the software and requires no ongoing payments beyond the purchase price. The advantage to schools in using a subscription service such as Microsofts is the smaller, annual payments. However, a spokesman for Becta emphasized that that Microsoft required schools to have licences for every PC in a school, whether they use the software or not.

The government agency has complained to the Office of Fair Trading, saying talks with Microsoft have not resolved quot;fundamental concerns quot; about academic licensing and about Office 2007 and the Vista operating system. The agency hopes that by referring the case to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), quot; Microsoft will move promptly to address the issues raised quot;. If schools have already signed up with Microsoft, Becta says quot; they should consider their renewal and their buyout options quot; alongside any findings the OFT may make.

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