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G2009 discussion collapses - what implications for schools.

This rather innocuous press release from the State Services Commission came out last week. It was mentioned in the online press, and is being covered at the NZOSS website.

Outcome of G2009 Microsoft negotiations

26 May 2009

The State Services Commission today announced the government has concluded negotiations with Microsoft on a pan-government agreement for the next three years.

It became apparent during discussions that a formal agreement with Microsoft is no longer appropriate.

Microsoft have agreed to provide recommended retail price certainty for agencies as a basis for their individual negotiations, and the State Services Commission will be supporting agencies to explore how they can maximise their ICT investment and achieve greater value for money.

Since 2000 the government has negotiated a series of three-year agreements with Microsoft, enabling public sector agencies to purchase Microsoft products on an opt-in basis.

In late 2008 the State Services Commission commenced leading the re-negotiation of the G2006 Microsoft agreement on behalf of government agencies, and established an advisory steering committee comprised of senior executives from the largest IT purchasers in the public sector.

Contact: Marian Mortensen, State Services Commission: 04 495 6620 or 021 2441475

ENDS
It has serious implications for schools, and education in general because the current licensing agreement runs until the end of 2009. Currently the software from Microsoft is available at an insanely reduced price for education, but it's in such a large volume, I can't see Microsoft not making money on it.  As it is taxpayer money that is funding it - serious scrutiny should be allowed.  But apparently, according to Don Christie on National Radio (link to an mp3) - no official information act requests about the actual figures involved have ever been answered. It's not apparent from the press release why the negotiations broke down, or if either the government or Microsoft blinked first.

Douglas Harre seems pretty confident in the Ministry of Education getting a deal from Microsoft though - apparently their negotiations are due to conclude in a couple of months.

The NZ Herald has an odd take on the issue - Bernard Hickey supports moving to opensource, but blithly compares the OSS movement to communism. I wonder if Stallman would approve? He also claims to be a convert to cloud computing - which I know Stallman definitely wouldn't approve of. His final paragraph is a complete mixing of metaphorical ideologies...

Communism would make our capitalist economy healthier and stronger. It might even improve our democracy.What the hell???

At school, we're running a mixture of OS X Macbooks and laptops/workstations running Windows XP. We've just leased a MacMini to act as a server for the 30 Macbooks. I've had a play with Edubuntu using a LiveCD. We've been considering upgrading our server to a 64-bit machine running Windows Server 2008 - but that's on hold, as we look to maintain our budgets. I've no problem maintaining or looking after another form of OS - but it does add to the workload. The biggest headache this week is getting the printers to mount on some users accounts.

This is just more to think about for the planning day in November, but in terms of maintaining and using our existing hardware - a switch to some form of Linux has, as a result of this press release, become a rather more viable option.

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