Friday, 19 September 2008

Becta and Microsoft Kiss and Make Up - Not Quite

As yet limited reaction in the section of the blogosphere I roam through, to this announcement from Becta in relation to the long running disagreement between Becta and Microsoft. Just be clear that there is still a complaint from Becta to the EC about Microsoft and this latest announcement hasn't made that go away.

The ongoing bustup was over two issues. First licensing. Now Becta say MS is going to loosen the very tight threads of Schools Agreement Licensing, but in six months... oh and as a pilot.

Microsoft's own Schools Blog reassuringly states "The Becta release is very specifically comparing the new scheme to Schools Agreement, even though the majority of schools don’t use it. So don’t panic – after reading their news release, you might think you’re being forced to license computers you don’t run our software on! You’re not." Phew, what a relief! This blog says nothing about the other dimension of the dispute about ODF document format.

Meanwhile the more balanced Merlin John (of TES Online fame -God Rest Its Soul) reports "If you were to deduce ... that licence payers were spending more than they needed, that would not necessarily be correct. Licences are often catch-all to give users a free hand across a range of possibilities. They are better value for some than others. And the licensing pilot that Microsoft is undertaking will check out different possibilities to increase flexibility for schools."

So not much of a change then. The other dimension to the dispute is around MS Office 2007 and the ODF format. First MS didn't have Office 2007 open or create ODF documents. Now MS are saying that this will be reversed. ZDNet,1000000121,39488825,00.htm quotes Mark Taylor, chief executive of Sirius Corporation and founder of the Open Source Consortium "[Sirius's view] is that Microsoft has been forced to this position, and that the term 'clear commitment' should be read 'dragged kicking and screaming'. If not for the stance of Neelie Kroes and the European Commission, if not for the OOXML roadshow and the ISO controversy, if not for Becta's OFT complaint, does anyone believe this would happen?"

But Becta welcomes the limited moves Microsoft are making.

I just wish Becta would press a well known MIS supplier as hard...

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