Schools teach Microsoft a lesson

Schools teach Microsoft a lesson

Government agency makes anti-competitiveness complaint against software giant

The government's education technology agency, Becta, has filed a complaint with the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) over alleged anti-competitive practices by Microsoft in the schools software market.

The agency has also complained about Microsoft's approach to document interoperability.

Becta has been in talks with the software company about resolving a number of issues around interoperability and subscription licensing.

A negotiating stalemate prompted Becta to take its complaint to the OFT.

An interim report published by Becta in January 2007 into Microsoft's academic licensing policies highlighted concerns about the software provider’s market dominance and the impact on choice, competition and value for money for schools.

A separate report into Vista and Office 2007 highlighted concerns in relation to interoperability.

Becta is advising schools against moving to Microsoft's School Agreement subscription licensing model.

If schools have already entered into the licensing model Becta said they should consider their renewal and buyout options alongside any findings the OFT may make.

Becta's advice in relation to the deployment of Office 2007 is that schools and colleges should only deploy the software when its interoperability with alternative products is satisfactory.

That would imply effective support by Microsoft of the internationally-approved ODF file format.