BECTA: Don’t upgrade to Vista

Wow! Peter Sayer, of IDG News Service reports on BECTA’s considered opinion of Microsoft Vista:

British schools should not upgrade to Microsoft’s Vista operating system and Office 2007 productivity suite, the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (BECTA) said in a report on the software. It also supported use of the international standard ODF (Open Document Format) for storing files.
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Schools might consider using Vista if rolling out all-new infrastructure, but should not introduce it piecemeal alongside other versions of Windows, or upgrade older machines, said the agency, which is responsible for advising British schools and colleges on their IT use.

“We have not had sight of any evidence to support the argument that the costs of upgrading to Vista in educational establishments would be offset by appropriate benefit,” it said.

The cost of upgrading Britain’s schools to Vista would be £175 million ($350 million), around a third of which would go to Microsoft, the agency said. The rest would go on deployment costs, testing and hardware upgrades, it said.

Even that sum would not be enough to purchase graphics cards capable of displaying Windows Aero Graphics, although that’s no great loss because “there was no significant benefit to schools and colleges in running Aero,” it said.

As for Office 2007, “there remains no compelling case for deployment,” the agency said in its full report, published this week.

The report (pdf) is available from here.

The relevant bit of the Executive Summary reads:

The key recommendations emanating from this final report (all of which we cover in further detail in the report) are as follows.

  • We advise that upgrading existing ICT systems to Vista is not recommended and that mixed Windows-based operating-system environments should be avoided.
  • We believe that Vista can be considered where new institution-wide ICT provision is being planned
  • Recognising the limitations regarding Microsoft’s implementation of the ODF standard and the limited uptake of Microsoft’s new Office 2007 file format, we recommend that in the short term users should continue to use the older Microsoft binary formats (such as .doc)
  • Schools and colleges should make students, teachers and parents aware of the range of ‘free-to-use’ products (such as office productivity suites) that are available, and how to access and use them.
  • The ICT industry should be pro-active in facilitating easier access to ‘free-to- use’ office productivity software.
  • Note: BECTA is the government-funded organisation which advises the UK educational sector on ICT.