Is Microsoft planning to upgrade ICT in our schools for free?

Microsoft announced a 1000 apprenticeships for youngsters in London last week signalling that they remain committed to education. What will follow will be the Perfect Storm of software upgrades. I don’t want to depress anyone out there...

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Microsoft announced a 1000 apprenticeships for youngsters in London last week signalling that they remain committed to education. What will follow will be the Perfect Storm of software upgrades.

I don’t want to depress anyone out there more than usual but I must point out that in education computer software is well overdue a complete revamp. Three years ago schools were told by the Government not to upgrade to MS Vista or Office 2007 and the accompanying soundtrack was one of the brakes screeching on.

We now know that to make matters worse we face four years of spending cuts which do not bode well for school ICT ... but even so does anyone really believe that in 2016 we will still be using Windows XP as the OS in the majority of schools?

If you do (i.e. you are a member of Edugeek) consider that by as early as the end of 2011, 3D displays will be as commonplace as gesture-driven interfaces, HTML5, or Silverlight will be in place and to top it all everyone, students included, will carry i-Phones or Androids and live and breathe ‘apps’.

If you are still not persuaded then don’t forget that the melding of the PC and the Phone is going full tilt and has spawned HP’s Palm-derived WebOS, Mac’s Lion OS and of course Chrome OS* Thus by 2013 personal and business IT will have transformed utterly with Apps as common on desktops and notebooks as they are now on phones.

... but back to my main theme, schools ... IE7 on XP PCs in 2013, 2014, 2015...really?

No way.


The options for schools facing such humiliation are ‘do nothing’ or ‘do something’.

Let’s Do Nothing.

If we do nothing, then within three years we will have condemned our ICT facilities to irrelevance albeit expensive irrelevance. The army of technicians needs paying as do annual software licences as do support contracts. Thus even the status quo requires a whole heap of money spent on kit and people no-one wants.

Doing nearly-nothing though is always attractive. I guess we could do a little bit, say by cutting costs losing a few technicians, dumping MS Office, moving to Google Apps and turning more desktops into quasi-browser terminals; the usual, maybe even a bit of FOSS.

Let’s Do Something.

Oooh this is a bit tricky. What would you do? We would only do something nowadays if there was some powerful driver. Being irrelevant has never really bothered schools that much, Ok people might laugh a bit at you but Latin Masters have endured worse and survive (just) to this day.

But if we were to move to the Brave New World of HP’s WebOS model, or Google’s Chome-Android or Mac’s roaring Lion in which the phone, tablet and desktop blend... what system would we go for, more to the point what would we do with it?

Is there an even an Open Source Linux version? … don’t be silly WebOS and Android are Linux (mostly). Who mentioned Linux! … whoaaa...this is all too scary ... where's RM when you need them?

… but hang on, who’s this approaching?

It’s that nice man with the swivelly eyes again. Maybe he can help?

Think about it, condemning school ICT systems to irrelevance is the same as condemning Microsoft to irrelevance. This breaks the generational link; kid talk such as “oh yeah we had those computers at school, they were s****e” does not bode well for future sales.

Microsoft may be slow on the uptake but in buying into Nokia they have acknowledged what is coming and will take plodding steps to recruit the unwary.

So prepare yourselves:

Windows 7, Windows-Nokia Phone 7, Office 10, HyperV, Sharepoint 2010, Silverlight, MS E-Reader-Pearsons Textboks ... the ‘perfect storm’ for education ... and it’s coming soon to a school near you ....

... what’s more MS will pay for it!!!

No really, the alternative is to lose the next generation of buyers ... the ink is nearly dry on the MOU

... isn’t that so Secretary of State?

Summary

Schools have antiquated ICT but have simply to do nothing but wait ... It’s perfect marketing, Microsoft are the archetypal ‘catch up corporation’ and schools the archetypal ‘catch up’ users.

I am so sorry schools but I think the die is cast. It's free but not as in beer.

*ps...Redmond (always late to the party), had better find a Smart Phone platform sharpish...oh they just have..hi MS-Nokia and as they say in Malmo, haista vittu.

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