Schools told to shun Vista and Office 2007

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Schools told to shun Vista and Office 2007

Antony Savvas

Government agency Becta has told schools and colleges to steer clear of Microsoft’s Windows Vista and Office 2007 products as they do not offer any new “must have” features for the education sector.

A report from the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency concluded that while the new features of Vista added value, there were “no ‘must have’ features in the product that would justify early deployment in schools and colleges”.

The report added that “the technical, financial and organisational challenges associated with early deployment [of Vista] currently make this a high risk strategy. Early deployment is therefore strongly recommended against.”

The report recommended that Microsoft facilitate a small number of pilot activities to clarify what the benefits of deploying Vista in schools and colleges would be and how much deployment would cost.

Becta said the cost of a widespread deployment of Vista in schools and colleges was currently estimated at around £160m, while the benefits were unclear.

There will be a final Becta report on Vista and its possible widespread use by January 2008.

A Becta review of Office 2007 identified more than 170 new features, but considered many of them to be of more use in a business environment than an educational one.

A detailed analysis of the new functionality again found that none of the new features was a “must have” for schools and colleges.

Becta said, “As the costs of deployment of Office 2007 would be significant, Becta has not identified any convincing justification for the early adoption of Office 2007.”

The report said that many rival products delivered about 50% of Office 2007's functionality, but that this was enough to meet or exceed the basic office productivity requirements of many schools.

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