Schools like Microsoft software deal

The open source movement might not approve of all state and integrated schools getting free Microsoft software, but schools themselves are enthusiastic.

The open source movement might not approve of all state and integrated schools getting free Microsoft software, but schools themselves are enthusiastic.

The head of science at Northland College in Kaikohe, David Hutchinson, says the $10 million, two-year plan announced by the government last week is “a very good one and long overdue”.

Education Minister Trevor Mallard says the deal with Microsoft will give schools access to several Microsoft programs, including Office Professional, the Works package including Word and Excel, FrontPage web site design software and the Encarta encyclopedia suite, as well as Windows upgrades. Individual schools will not have to pay for the software.

The deal is to be carried out via the Multi Serve Education Trust, a body which provides administration, professional and IT services to schools that was founded at the time of the Tomorrow’s Schools reforms in 1989.

Hutchinson says Tomorrow’s Schools meant schools were “left to themselves and it’s been difficult for low decile schools like Northland College”.

The school, which has a roll of 420, has about 75 computers, says head of technology Sharon Nolan, of which 20 were donated under the DOP (digital opportunities protocol) scheme set up by the government in partnership with IT vendors in February.

Kerikeri High School senior management team member Bill Carruthers is another supporter of the Microsoft deal. “It’s exactly the kind of support schools need.”

A group of Porirua schools, meantime, is involved in a pilot scheme running the free Sun Microsystems package Star Office on SunRay thin client machines.

The scheme is being run by the Porirua City Community IT Education Trust, with Sun supplying discounted hardware.

Trustee Phil Major says the Microsoft deal will be taken into consideration as the trust works toward its goal of installing 1000 SunRays in 24 low-decile schools.

“You have to remember there is a range of Microsoft applications which can be run on an integrated basis on Sun systems. It’s not a case of apples or oranges; it’s a mixture of apples and oranges.”

Major says the deal between the government and Microsoft “is a very positive development”.

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