Becta: The Story Continues....

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I don't know if you're as confused about what Becta is up to as I am, but after a couple of apparent policy switches, we now have this:

Microsoft has suffered further set-backs in the UK education sector this week after Becta, the government procurement quango, reformed its procurement regime to break the software giant's hold on schools, and launched a programme to get schools to adopt open source software.

At least three open source software suppliers submitted tenders to Becta yesterday for the £270 million Schools Open Source Project. The winner will spend two years building a community of schools that uses and develops its own open source alternatives to Microsoft software.

Becta has also specifically called on open source companies to join its £80 million framework list of certified suppliers of software to schools, contracts for which will be awarded in June. The last framework list consisted entirely of Microsoft suppliers and drew Becta widespread criticism for favouring the convicted monopolist over cheaper, homegrown alternatives.

If Becta means business over this – and it's a big "if" given the roller-coaster ride we've had from them so far – this is potentially huge. I've long maintained that Microsoft's stranglehold on the British education sector is (a) a total scandal and (b) one of the root causes of this country's poor showings in just about every survey of open source usage. Here's hoping....

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