Last week the government IT agency BECTA finally published their assessment of the potential benefits of using open source software in schools. The report contains some surprising conclusions – even for longstanding open source advocates like myself – such as the finding that primary schools could cut their computer budgets by nearly half if they were to replace their proprietary (read Microsoft) systems with OSS alternatives.
As you might expect Microsoft have rubbished the report, citing a number of shortcomings in the research carried out by BECTA. But even if the points Microsoft make are vaid, it’s difficult to see how they can possibly claim that their solutions provide better value for money for schools in the face of the evidence.
Sure, open source software isn’t a magic ticket that’ll guarantee you save money, but if you know what you’re doing with it then the evidence seems to point to a number of potential benefits.
And the most interesting thing about this report? According to the meta-information embedded in the PDF file on BECTA’s web site, it was produced on by Quark Express on a Mac. That’s a proprietary software package, running on a proprietary OS running on proprietary hardware. Still, I guess it proves that they’re not just a bunch of open source zealots 🙂