Schools warned against signing up for software from Microsoft

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The Independent Online

Schools should not sign software licensing deals with Microsoft because of the computer giant's alleged anti-competitive practices, a government watchdog has warned.

The British Educational and Technological Agency (Becta) has complained to the Office of Fair Trading, saying talks have not resolved its "fundamental concerns" about academic licensing of the company's Windows Office 2007 and Vista operating systems.

Thousands of schools already use Microsoft software but Becta claims that new licensing arrangements are too restrictive.

Microsoft insists that schools pay for a licence for every PC on the premises which might use its software, regardless of whether teachers plan to do so at the time of signing a contract.

Becta also fears that the new packages might be inoperable with software which is already in use.

The watchdog reminded schools that they must by law have licences for software but urged them to look for a "perpetual" deal that did not involve extra costs after the initial outlay.

It said: "In the interim, our advice to schools considering moving to Microsoft's School Agreement subscription licensing model is they should not do so."

Microsoft said that it would continue working to enable as many schools as possible to benefit from its technology "at the best possible price".

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