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Microsoft Education

How Microsoft Beats GNU/Linux In Schools 476

twitter writes "Ever wonder why schools still use Windows? Boycott Novell has extracted the details from 2002 Microsoft email presented in the Comes vrs Microsoft case and other leaks. What emerges is Microsoft's desperate battle to 'never lose to Linux.' At stake for Microsoft is more than a billion dollars of annual revenue, vital user conditioning and governmental lock in that excludes competition, and software freedom for the rest of us. Education and Government Incentives [EDGI] and "Microsoft Unlimited Potential" are programs that allows vendors to sell Windows at zero cost. Microsoft's nightmare scenario has already been realized in Indiana and other places. Windows is not really competitive and schools that switch save tens of millions of dollars. Because software is about as expensive as the hardware in these deals, the world could save up to $500 million each year by dumping Microsoft. Now that the cat is out of the bag, it's hard to see what Microsoft can do other than what they did to Peter Quinn."
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How Microsoft Beats GNU/Linux In Schools

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  • Product dumping (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PitaBred ( 632671 ) <> on Monday January 12, 2009 @06:46PM (#26424481) Homepage
    Microsoft has already been ruled a monopoly... isn't dumping [] an illegal tactic for monopolies?
    • Re:Product dumping (Score:5, Interesting)

      by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @07:04PM (#26424583)

      It's not dumping if the competition (Linux) is free. They are not going to put Linux out of bussiness by undercutting linux's profit margin. It might be possible they are however dumping with regard to software support (red hat, IBM, Novell, ...) But I think this would be hard to argue succesfully.

      Even the memos from MS state MS cannot and will not compete soley on the basis of price.

      The thing is their products are agile in price since they have high fixed costs and low marginal costs. Airlines are classic example of this. Airlines try to create price structures (e.g. saturday stays, advance purchase, limited kinds of seats, luggage limits,... ) so that they integrate the area under the demand curve.

      Far from being unfair this is actually socially ideal. In the ideal limit people pay for something exactly what it is worth. depsite the fact that some folks pay more than others, over all nearly everyone, including the people paying the higher price, are paying LESS than they would have to pay if it was sold for a fixed price, because of the increased demand lowers the per capitia fixed costs.

      I also question broad statements like " Windows is not really competitive and schools that switch save tens of millions of dollars.". Anecdotally maybe this is has happened. But it's not really clear that this is true in general. School systems are one of the most budget limited govt run orgs. They try everything to shave dollars, like fees for art supplies, to hot lunches paid for by PTO fund raisers. I find it hard to believe the schools would somehow be so blind as to over look an easy "tens of millions" if the case was clear cut.

      " Windows is not really competitive and schools that switch save tens of millions of dollars. "

      • Re:Product dumping (Score:5, Insightful)

        by postbigbang ( 761081 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @07:44PM (#26424853)

        It's not the operating system that pays, it's the sum of platform applications and infrastructure where Microsoft makes money, coupled to the students that know nothing else but Windows. The tip of the iceberg is Windows. The cash cows are Office, SQL Server, Exchange, and the add-ons, upgrades, and other platform products.

        You don't 'lose' to Linux, you lose revenue that represents lots of infrastructure, server licenses, CALs, and so on.

        There are few professional organizations that can do an end-to-end Linux infrastructure for educational needs (including school administration software costs) but the list is growing, if by populism alone.

        Part of Microsoft's loss is the horrible security problems of 1998-2007, as they're less than before. That damage hurt Microsoft-- coupled to support costs for the products. Macs have always been a fractional part of the educational market, and Apple's done a lot to damage their own relationships with schools-- but students love them.

        Microsoft has a lot to learn about love, rather than feigning leadership.

        • Re:Product dumping (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ( 653730 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @08:07PM (#26425163)

          Indeed, and consider how MUCH money on training Microsoft gets for free when public schools teach with Microsoft products.

          It's not just the license. It's all the taxes you pay to train your own childs for the benefit of a private company.

          • Re:Product dumping (Score:5, Interesting)

            by QuantumRiff ( 120817 ) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @12:07AM (#26427693)

            I used to work at a small college. They didn't teach classes in Office applications, they taught classes in Office 2007. They taught intro to MS Word. The teachers, (who attended all sorts of MS training for free) didn't think there was a difference. They got PISSED when I suggested to students that couldn't afford office to try openoffice. MS gave our entire campus all the software we needed for less money than we gave the local bus service so students could ride the city bus at a heavy discount. This was at a 2 year college that had more technology per capita than most schools in the state. Hell, our main "Operating systems" class covered Windows 2003, 2000, and XP. The teacher got upset when the students came to me (I was network admin) and asked for Linux, so I handed them Ubuntu's live cd's... Why would we want to use something that's free, when we get to use something so valuable, for free. they thought MS was obviously a better value!

      • Re:Product dumping (Score:4, Informative)

        by ZombieRoboNinja ( 905329 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @07:46PM (#26424877)

        >>School systems are one of the most budget limited govt run orgs.

        This is true, but there are often a lot of state or national funds available specifically for technology that don't come out of the school's (local) budget. So there are actually a lot of public schools that have more money than they really need sloshing around for computers, even if they're scrambling to pay their teachers and replace horrendously outdated textbooks.

      • they integrate the area under the demand curve.

        Far from being unfair this is actually socially ideal. In the ideal limit people pay for something exactly what it is worth.

        Ah I like to reason about this kind of things! What do we mean by "exactly what it is worth" in this case? Is it in the eyes of the buyer or the seller?

      • Re:Product dumping (Score:4, Interesting)

        by v(*_*)vvvv ( 233078 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @08:00PM (#26425053)

        Great post, but I have to challenge this statement:

        are paying LESS than they would have to pay if it was sold for a fixed price, because of the increased demand lowers the per capitia fixed costs.

        No. Companies maximize profit by charging the maximum price a consumer tier will permit. It has nothing to do with saving anyone any money. The increased demand lowering fixed costs is a separate matter that also holds true, but companies simply bank on the lowered fixed costs, and do not pass it on to consumers. They may say so, but the only time companies are supposed to lower prices is when they need to be more competitive. Of course, when they raise prices they love to put it on increased costs, but we all know from the oil companies that in their case the increase in oil prices was directly proportional to their obscene level of profits.

        No one should second guess the intents of any large corporation. They are required to squeeze every dime out of the consumer. The economy is built around this behavior. If a private company is charging less than it can, they are a great M&A opportunity. If it is a public company, the shareholders would not allow it. It is only a matter of time until prices are adjusted to their maximums.

      • Re:Product dumping (Score:5, Interesting)

        by gbjbaanb ( 229885 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @08:01PM (#26425063)

        It's not dumping if the competition (Linux) is free.

        Last I saw, Linux wasn't free, RedHat, Novell and Canonical all sell it (plus assorted support and licensing offerings) for quite a sum. Therefore, this dumping is illegal. surely?

        plus, Macs certainly aren't free, and they're also part Microsoft's of the competition.

        • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

          by CarpetShark ( 865376 )

          Indeed. Linux is a kernel, not a product. The free distros cannot really be argued to compete for government contracts. Moreover, Linux's FOSS development methodology is simply based on the scientific and academic sharing in the academic world it came from. It may not even be right to argue that Linux itself CAN be a competitor, given that. It would be like claiming physics professors who give away their ideas and laser technology demo software are competing with a laser pointer manufacturer.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by dubbreak ( 623656 )

          It's not dumping if the competition (Linux) is free.

          Last I saw, Linux wasn't free, RedHat, Novell and Canonical all sell it (plus assorted support and licensing offerings) for quite a sum.

          No kidding. At the university I went to the linux lab with Red Hat cost more to license than an equivalent sized XP installed lab.

          Granted the linux lab was licensed as workstation installs (more expensive, but desktop didn't allow multiple users remoting in) and the windows labs were desktop install so we're not comparing apples to apples (and I vaguely remember there was some weirdness with the RedHat licensing for education that made them jump up one level further, missing options for education licensi

        • Re:Product dumping (Score:4, Informative)

          by Lonewolf666 ( 259450 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:51PM (#26427009)

          True for the "enterprise" versions, which usually are supposed to include some support. But it is legal to use a free Linux distribution (even if not promoted for organizations by the Linux vendor).
          CentOS is even advertised as being identical to RedHat except for the name, and free for download.

          There is your free competition ;-)

      • Sure, schools have very strict budgets, but they are very cautious too and will not take risks. Moving to Linux is perceived as very high risk. Teachers are already overworked and also don't want change that they see little benefit in doing.

        Saving money through fund raisers etc is seen to be low risk and a proven way to get money to flow the right way. An experiment in Linux is perceived to be a lot more risky and harder. The school's computers are often seen to be very high expense items and there is a pre

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Bob9113 ( 14996 )

        It's not dumping if the competition (Linux) is free.

        That is only true with price competitors, which Linux and Windows are not. With quality competitors, dumping must be gauged by other criteria, which actually don't work too well here either.

        The most "perfect" definition of dumping is selling below the marginal cost. Since the marginal cost for Windows is somewhere between a few bucks (packaging) and the marginal cost of support (moderate - a few tens of dollars at most), it is difficult to say what exact p

  • Or (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jayhawk88 ( 160512 ) <> on Monday January 12, 2009 @06:47PM (#26424487)

    Schools prefer to use Windows because it's what the vast majority of their faculty and staff know, it's what the vast majority of their software runs on, and it's what students will encounter on the vast majority of computers they will use in the real world.

    • Re:Or (Score:5, Insightful)

      by slugtastic ( 1437569 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @07:01PM (#26424569)
      And why is that? Because Microsoft has a monopoly over the market.
      • So? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Being a monopoly is neither illegal nor I would argue immoral. It's what you do with your monopolistic power that makes that determination. In this context it is also important to mention that MS is the original 'give it away for free or close to free' people. This was true even way before Windows had a lock on PCs.

        I would agree with the comments above about Windows being what the student will encounter and add further that this reasoning extends to the OLPC and similar products, which is why we are seeing

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        They have a monopoly or they gained a monopoly?

        Apple and Microsoft and Unix were all small time operating systems "back in the day," right? So ... what's the deal? Why didn't the ever-so-more-amazing Linux, Unix, or OS X become the monopoly? You can't argue that Apple doesn't do *cough* "weird" *cough* business practices. Many of the mainstream unix flavors (Solaris, AIX, HPUX) were never really consumer oriented but server oriented, and Linux is somewhat new as far as compatibility and consumer-usabil

        • Re:Or (Score:4, Insightful)

          by mikael_j ( 106439 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @08:17PM (#26425299)

          Actually, UNIX used to be for anything "serious" along with VMS (Workstations, minicomputers and general server duties), not just "small time" or "server oriented".

          A large part of what happened was that MS managed to gain market share by 1) Widespread piracy and 2) Being not nearly as good as the UNIX systems but also a lot cheaper. Point no. 2 is also why a lot of us who remember the days of MS-DOS, Win 2.x/3.x and other horrors may grudgingly admit that Microsoft's current operating system offerings are usable but still prefer *nix systems, because MS "won" by fighting dirty...


        • Re:Or (Score:5, Insightful)

          by onefriedrice ( 1171917 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @08:20PM (#26425335)
          I think you're suggesting that Microsoft "gained" their monopoly fair and square. As if "apparently people liked [Windows]."

          Unfortunately, that's not very apparent at all. Apple had a viable, easy-to-use operating system at the same time. It eventually became outdated, yet it had a lot going for it including some nice killer apps (desktop publishing for one). You can't simply shrug that off as 'people just liked Windows better' unless you know what you're talking about.

          In actuality, Microsoft gained its monopoly using questionably dubious, but well documented, business tactics, and now they use that OS monopoly in yet more questionable and dubious ways. This is generally known and accepted, but maybe your "apparently people liked [Windows]" comment isn't so well supported.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Technician ( 215283 )

            In actuality, Microsoft gained its monopoly using questionably dubious, but well documented, business tactics

            In reality, much of the Windows is from white box computers. Computers on a budget, a pirated copy of an OS, and lots of free downloadable applications, plus an open interface.

            Macs were sealed boxes with the OS pre installed for the most part with little 3rd party hardware support.

            When the PC clones were all the rage, they could run Windows, but not Mac software. This is where the PC and the Window

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Or maybe the vast majority of [the worlds] software runs on [Windows], and [Windows is] what students will encounter on the vast majority of computers they will use in the real world because that is what schools have used, and how Microsoft helped build their monopoly.
      • Re:Or (Score:5, Interesting)

        by duguk ( 589689 ) <dug&frag,co,uk> on Monday January 12, 2009 @07:45PM (#26424859) Homepage Journal
        In my experience (I worked in a school for 7 years and went to the same one for 5 years; and worked in a primary school for about 18 months), the only reason they use Microsoft is out of habit. That's what they're used to, what the staff are used to, and what the IT Technicians are used to. If anything breaks, there's Microsoft to blame.

        Fact is, most of the time, all they use is a Word Processor and a Web Browser. Occasionally using presentation software, and maybe some spreadsheeting and database software. Have a guess what most of the staff are used to; and how much trouble they have with MS Access for teaching GCSE. Serious problems come up with the less experienced staff just with Microsoft's software. Now imagine trying to suggest using something new.

        There's no reason they couldn't use Linux aside from the installation and support; switching from OpenOffice to Microsoft Office really isn't much different than going from Windows to Mac. I finally managed to convince them to have a couple of Ubuntu machines that the students had no problems with using, I wanted the students to have an experience of all operating systems; surely that's the idea of being at a school? Experiencing as much as possible? Most of the staff wouldn't even try. Some would, but most wouldn't. Some even wanted Windows 95 back.

        Microsoft configuration just isn't cut out to be used in schools, it's hard to tie down the operating system as much as the staff really want it, Linux would be a god-send, but I can't see it happening any time soon. It'd save a lot of money and effort overall, and a lot of time if the staff were able, and the governors were willing. Most IT Techs aren't even trained and get the job because they know someone on the inside; or like me; proved themselves when they worked there. Not for the will of trying to change, but getting a school to do anything is damn near impossible.

        Oh, the reason I left? The pay and conditions were terrible; most things just weren't working right, security was a joke, almost daily re-installs in some of the rooms, and no-one was interested in doing anything about it.
    • schools prefer to use Windows because it's what the vast majority of their faculty and staff know, ...

      A couple or so years ago, I asked a university lecturer why they used so much MS software, when the obviously had knowledge of Linux and Unix -- the reply was something like "we get it free" (or perhaps "almost free").

      In this case, it is free as in beer trumping free as in speech.

      • by drsmithy ( 35869 ) <drsmithy @ g m a> on Monday January 12, 2009 @07:45PM (#26424871)

        A couple or so years ago, I asked a university lecturer why they used so much MS software, when the obviously had knowledge of Linux and Unix -- the reply was something like "we get it free" (or perhaps "almost free").

        So they were using it because it was better ? Because they certainly wouldn't have been paying more for Linux or UNIX...

      • by BeerCat ( 685972 )

        A couple or so years ago, I asked a university lecturer why they used so much MS software, when the obviously had knowledge of Linux and Unix -- the reply was something like "we get it free" (or perhaps "almost free").

        Don't forget that in the early days (Windows 3 / 3.1), MS tended to turn a blind eye to copying, as it increased mindshare.

        (Also, at the same time, some organisations were still on DOS, but the new machines came with Windows disks. Those installing the company setup used to keep the Windows disks, or give them away. Of course, once they had all the copies of Windows that they and their friends could possibly use, a quick re-format of the floppy disks allowed their re-use - disks were expensive)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        because "teachers" really do get it nearly free... or at least not under per-pupil costs. Of course Universities pay big money in the name of "piracy" for site licensing.. but that goes under the IT or legal funds, not "teachers" funds.... see the difference.

        Like the Forrester survey below this article, people use Microsoft software out of habit, not even because they like it. For most people, using even MS Word is really hard, and re-learning it is even worse. MS knows Linux or Mac is better but as long a

    • Then why give it away for free if they'll use it anyway?
    • Re:Or (Score:5, Insightful)

      by turbidostato ( 878842 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @09:36PM (#26426227)

      "Schools prefer to use Windows because it's what the vast majority of their faculty and staff know, it's what the vast majority of their software runs on, and it's what students will encounter on the vast majority of computers they will use in the real world."

      I can accept points one and two but point three, "it's what students will encounter on the vast majority of computers they will use in the real world" is and always has been total utter bullshit. Whatever the students are using now will have only minor correlation to whatever they'll found in "the real world" few years from now. When I were in school it were the days of Microsoft DOS. How much does it resembles Windows Vista to Microsoft DOS except that there's "Microsoft" in the name? Is it really so much similar Windows 98 to Windows Vista than it is to current versions of Gnome or KDE upon Linux?

      In fact, the reverse is truer: whatever I learnt about DOS on my school days serves me nothing on current versions of Microsoft OS and apps. On the other hand, what I learnt on my university days about NFS, X Window, DNS, SMTP, Vi... is still serving me now almost word by word about fifteen years later. And this is not per chance: Microsoft, being the principal actor and living out of selling licenses is *forced* to add new features and change the way of doing things just "to stay the same" while others, specially if not competing on selling usage licenses, can maintain whatever is already working just the same for ages.

  • Teachers (Score:4, Insightful)

    by religious freak ( 1005821 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @06:47PM (#26424495)
    Um, I think one of the perhaps very good reasons they don't use Linux is because the teachers are clueless as to how to use it.

    Yeah, mark me as troll, but it's F'in true.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Penguinisto ( 415985 )

      The sad part is... as a former teacher myself, I cannot help but agree, but with one caveat:

      ...because the vast majority of teachers are clueless as to how to use it.

      ...which is more accurate, but just as bad, methinks.


      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        It's been a long time since I've been in high school, and I really am curious. Do they even know how to use Windows?

        I've got a baseless and unsupportable hypothesis (based on my lack of personal experience and lack of research) that teachers are afraid of technology, because their students know it better than them. And as a result, students are not getting the exposure to tech they need.

        So really, how good is computer literacy in teachers today? Even for something as basic as Windows? (I remembe
        • Re:Teachers (Score:5, Interesting)

          by theheadlessrabbit ( 1022587 ) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @01:08AM (#26428143) Homepage Journal

          I've got a baseless and unsupportable hypothesis (based on my lack of personal experience and lack of research) that teachers are afraid of technology, because their students know it better than them. And as a result, students are not getting the exposure to tech they need.

          my personal experience would support your hypothesis.

          back in my high school days (nearly 10 years ago now) I took a lot of 'computers' classes, because i wanted to learn about computers. but, i didn't. instead, I learned how to use things like 'corel word perfect', some power point clone, and 'turing' a programming language so limiting, it makes BASIC seem like C by comparison.

          rather than learning about building computers and general computing concepts, i was taught how to use specific and now obsolete software. those courses and that knowledge are now useless to me.

          how clueless were the teachers?
          this was back in 1999, so not knowing about linux was still forgivable, but the misinformation i received, was not.

          over the course of 3 years and 3 different computers classes, these are the highlights:

          On a test, this question came up:
          how many companies sell differing operating systems:
          a. 1
          b. 2
          c. 3
          d. more than 3.
          apparently, the correct answer was b, not d. silly me...

          i got 150% for participation, because i taught the teacher how to use computers before she could teach the class.

          i got kicked out of class for playing computer games. but the assignment was 'to write your own computer game' and i was testing my own game! she refused to believe it was mine, even after going through my code line by line.

          and finally, i got suspended for 'hacking'. some random 'error' dialogues were popping up on every system every hour or so, and i disabled them on my computer.

          My experience shows me that you are correct. most teachers do not understand the technology that the students are growing up with.

          last year, when booting up my laptop for one of my lessons, one of my students saw my ubuntu desktop and yelled out 'that's my system, too!'

    • Um, I think one of the perhaps very good reasons they don't use Linux is because the teachers are clueless as to how to use it.

      They won't be able to find their icons to click on because they are on the top panel instead of the bottom? The same problem with the task bar and system tray?

      An easy fix for that is to set up a special teachers image that puts everything on the bottom. You can even make it an ugly blue while you are at it.

      I think that moving to OSX (which doesn't have the ability to change to fit the user) would be much harder for them.

      Or do you mean teachers won't be able to fix things when they break. I doubt th

    • Why should teachers have to learn Linux or another OS? The Windows OS is easy to adapt to if you have little computer experience. Your average teacher doesn't need to learn a different OS or another set of apps. If the decision applied only to computer departments, well maybe, but for general use with a plethora of tools and software available that the average teacher is accustomed to, Windows will suffice.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hatta ( 162192 )

      Teachers are clueless on how to use windows too. Teachers shouldn't be administering the things, just using apps that they're probably going to need to be trained for anyway.

    • Re:Teachers (Score:5, Insightful)

      by frank_adrian314159 ( 469671 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @08:03PM (#26425105) Homepage

      Um, I think one of the perhaps very good reasons they don't use Linux is because the teachers are clueless as to how to use it.

      Um, I think that the teachers are pretty clueless as to how to use Windows, too. I'd almost go as far as saying they're pretty clueless on how to run any hardware more advanced than hamster cages, but they generally can get students to do that for them.

      Not to denigrate teachers - they are fine at what they're actually trained to do (i.e., teach), but most of them are the "typical computer user" (read clueless).

      • Re:Teachers (Score:5, Interesting)

        by apoc.famine ( 621563 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .enimaf.copa.> on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:40PM (#26426887) Journal
        I'm a teacher. Probably one of the top tech-savvy ones at my school, and also a linux dork.

        My sister's BF uses linux a lot now, since I pointed him to it. My sister also uses it a lot. As does my mom, who now, instead bitching about her "computer" bitches specifically about Microsoft. The linux side of her dual-boot gets nothing but praise.

        In any school, 80% of the teachers don't really know how to use a computer. They really are novices. In this case, there is NO difference between Linux and Windows. They probably wouldn't notice a difference if you swapped out their Windows machine for a KDE machine. (Gnome is enough different that they might notice. MIGHT notice..)

        Flashaback to my mom's computer. My sister (Windows-only librarian) wanted to steal some of mom's Christmas CDs. I suggested she infringe on the copyrights by making a copy. (She's got both eyes, and both legs, so I couldn't suggest piracy.) She booted into Kubuntu, popped the CD into one drive, a blank into the second, found K3b, and burned herself a couple of CDs.

        If she can do that, with 0 assistance, I'm confident that most teachers could use linux as well as windows. But why does EVERY school run windows?

        It's a combination of a few factors.

        1) The Admins know that Windows runs on 80+% of the computers in the world, and have used it exclusively.
        2) A technology grant (in my State, a lawsuit against MS got it for us) buys both the hardware AND gets free MS software with it.
        3) One essential piece of software (Gradequick, in my case) runs on Windows only.

        I talk to my head tech guy often about different flavors of linux, and our collective playing around with it. He's not ignorant. But when a settlement from MS pays for all the hardware AND software for our school, why would he reformat it to run linux? It would be incompatable with a few major applications, and a major pain in the ass, as we'd then be running two operating systems. For a small tech staff, with limited resources, homogeneity is a necessity. (But he's still made sure that my linux laptop can connect to the wireless.)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I would argue that it is really just that they are not aware of Linux. Perhaps my view is skewed by my experience with university professors and researchers, but I have found that most people really just are not aware of free software or what they can do with it. People are unaware that they really have choices in these things. I have met researchers who were shocked to discover that the basic software in any Linux distro -- a shell, the POSIX userland, and Perl/Python -- can serve as a replacement for d
  • Apps! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jjeff1 ( 636051 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @07:02PM (#26424575)
    One of my customers is a K-12 school. They have 10K students, and 390 different windows applications.

    Most educational software simply isn't written for Linux. Most educational software is poorly written for Windows. Running as a non-admin user is always a hangup. I can't imagine trying to get all these apps to run under Wine. The chorus of "why don't we have windows" would be deafening.

    The reason Windows beats Linux in schools is because the apps they need, work under windows. When the superintendent wants an application, he gets it. No matter how poorly written or insecure it is, we always end up installing it. If linux is somehow responsible for it not working, linux gets tossed, 100% of the time.
    • Re:Apps! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by at_slashdot ( 674436 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @07:41PM (#26424793)

      Totally agree, people are interested in applications not in operating systems.

    • Re:Apps! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by drspliff ( 652992 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @07:42PM (#26424817)

      It would be incredibly interesting if some people with more experience of school education software could put together a top 10 or top 20 list of common applications which are used throughout the country.

      I'm sure the majority of them aren't very complex apps, and the learning material could be easily put together (perhaps with bounties for completing modules, it'd be a nice alternative source of income for teachers).

      Anyway, with the goals in hand the problem of "Most educational software is poorly written for Windows." shouldn't be an issue, it's hard for me to write educational software because I don't have kids or experience teaching them... but with the right organisation I'd be happy to oblige.

      • There's a link here [] of open source news for UK schools. Doesn't look too bad, but you can guess nearly all of them still use Microsoft. This link [] refers to Becta's appearance before another EU antitrust inquiry into Microsoft's practices.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Jjeff1 ( 636051 )
        The problem is that software is often written by companies who have an educational base, not a software development base. It's also often very, very old. Lets face it, your core K-6 education has changed very little. Kids still need the 3 R's. The primary app for this level of education at the school I mentioned above was last updated in 2001, and the core educational components are significantly older than that.

        But, there are other factors involved. A school might have more than one app that does the sa
    • Re:Apps! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mr Z ( 6791 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @08:00PM (#26425049) Homepage Journal

      This is something of a chicken and egg problem isn't there? I don't recall Windows having any sort of natural advantage when I was in school. It was all Apple ][s, except in the business department where they had some PS/2s running MS-DOS. A couple people thought Windows was interesting, but nobody was in a hurry to switch.

      All of this Windows software has developed through the traditional "network effect," and that was nurtured through programs such as Microsoft's that put Windows on many desktops throughout the 90s. That doesn't mean it can't be brought to Linux someday, though. There has to be some demand before it happens. Either that, or some open source efforts to replace the poorly-written software that you mention.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Score Whore ( 32328 )

        I know people might hate this idea, but Linux will never see the kinds of growth Apple and Microsoft experienced.

        Why? Because most Linux types are using Linux to use Linux. Most consumers use computers to chat with text and video. They want to watch movies. They want to read email. They don't want to be computer experts and they don't use any particular OS in order to be using that OS.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by nbates ( 1049990 )

      Many school applications are web applications. Or Java applications.

      Also, many of those applications are easy to reproduce, take for example Carnegie Learning's cognitive tutor ( [] ), not only it is easy to replicate, it also has many interesting challenges from the point of view of a computer scientist. Lot of room for improvement. It is a great job for an open source project.

      The only problem is marketing. Most of this solutions are actually not that great, I ha

    • Re:Apps! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Yvanhoe ( 564877 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @08:15PM (#26425273) Journal
      When Bob fail at math, Bob is bad at math. When Alice fails at math, girls are bad at math.
      When an application crashes under Windows, the application failed. When an application crashes under Linux, Linux fails.

      I may sound pompous, but the first bias is being fought by using techniques that could be used in the second as well. The most simple method that yields results is incredibly cheap : show people they have a bias. Most people don't like to feel that they are being sexist and try to correct their bias if they perceive it. Most people (especially teacher, where I live) don't like to feel they are doing the job of a corporate lackey, or helping a monopoly. Microsoft does have a bad rep, not only among geeks. People also don't like to feel that they are being cheated in paying too much for so few.

      That, and I was really impressed by wine progresses (under the standard Ubuntu install) these years. Most of your old Windows applications will work better under Ubuntu than under Vista. Even file sharing through netbios/samba worked more easily.
    • Re:Apps! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by artor3 ( 1344997 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @09:30PM (#26426169)

      During college, I worked as IT support for an association of special education preschools. While I did get them to adopt OpenOffice, I immediately realized that I couldn't even recommend switching to Linux, because essential programs weren't supported.

      One program that comes to mind is Boardmaker, by Mayer-Johnson. It's an extremely popular tool for helping autistic children, and not a complex program at all. It wouldn't be hard for open-source devs to replicate, but there is just no interest among developers. Unfortunately, without it, few special ed teachers will ever consider using Linux.

      There is certainly demand for a free alternative as well - in part because of Boardmaker's $400/license price tag. Searching for "Boardmaker linux" or something of the sort reveals that people have asked for it, but gone unanswered. Perhaps the saddest request is this:

      "My 11 year old son has autism and his a communication therapist has recommended Boardmaker by Nova logistics to help him communicate. He has had a great affinity for computers since he was 4 years old. He has a Pentium III 1Ghz powered Intel D815eea computer which I built for him.

      Boardmaker sells for over $500 and we live on low, fixed income. I have been told that there may be an equivalent, Linux based program. If so, can you tell me what it is and where I can get it? Thanks for your help."

      There were no responses.

      • Linux for the blind (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Britz ( 170620 )

        I have not heard of a program for autistic children, but Klaus Knopper, one of the popular Linux engineers over here in Germany (if not the most popular for Knoppix) works on Linux for blind people. His wife is blind. There might be more Linux people out there that are handicapped themsleves or have close relatives that are. That can be a very high incentive to create useful tools.

  • by damn_registrars ( 1103043 ) <> on Monday January 12, 2009 @07:14PM (#26424609) Homepage Journal
    I clicked the link from the end of the story [] and was unable to find anything on that page referring to "Peter Quinn", "Quinn", or even just "Pete".

    What information are we supposed to glean from that link?
  • Key applications (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lordeveryman ( 853166 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @07:34PM (#26424697)
    At the High School I volunteer at there are key applications that teachers feel they can not do without. One such example is Microsoft Publisher. This is a loathsome application that does not export to any other known publishing application, but is used to teach publishing in the school. :-(
    We are making progress though. The school switched to Open Office this year for all but the business lab. I am working with the business lab teachers to get them familiar with Open Office so they can make an informed decision about what software to use in the future.
  • by mehtars ( 655511 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @07:43PM (#26424829)
    Maybe its because office suite is simple, easy to use and works very well with graphics embedded within documents.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      HAHAHAHAHAHAhaahehheh*sniff*, good one.

      Wait, were you serious? Even with all that "ribbon" crap they've been replacing the menus with?

  • The reality is a lot of computers run Windows and it's not going to be detrimental for kids to learn Microsoft OS, tools and technologies even if it's fun for us to talk about evil tactics and dumping Microsoft. I think a lot of the time Windows gets into schools because it's a consistent and familiar GUI experience. Kids can learn on it -- they have lots of time to make up their own minds when they get old enough, reaching college and university, etc. all kinds of OS's and tools are used. Cost-wise if the
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by FrostDust ( 1009075 )
      As mentioned in the blog, the main strategy Microsoft is using is to offer licenses for it's OS/software for cheap, or even free, so that the users will be more likely to buy future products from them in the future.

      Ideally, people should be learning how to use computers, not Microsoft software. That way, they would be more open minded toward, and technically capable of, using different software when they get the chance to chose. In government (and school) situations, this is important because it's a wast
  • by Prep_Styles ( 564065 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @07:52PM (#26424971)

    Now that the cat is out of the bag, it's hard to see what Microsoft can do other than what they did to ...

    I like Linux as much as the next guy ( I run it almost exclusively) But seriously how many times do I have to read M$ is doomed! DOOOMMED!

    Windows is popular in schools (as is mac) because the experience is more seamless then it is in a flavour of Linux. Schools are not trying to just teach computers to kids, their trying to get them to read, write, perform arithmetical, or other tasks that are SEEN as separate from the computing experience. As soon as you have to explain to teaching staff that Gnome isn't Linux isn't GNU isn't RedHat ... you've lost the case because the teachers are just going to say "This isn't a computer class! Why do I have to learn this!?"

    I think Linux would be great is schools but until you have a reasonably seamless experience your not going to get anywhere.

    The arguments always come down to cost: "Linux will save you money". Sure it will. But these institutions are used to spending money to get what they think they need. Your not going to win this argument with cost benefits alone, you have to convince them that Linux will do a better job then Windows and Mac and as of right now I don't think that's an easy case to make.

    • by maugle ( 1369813 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @08:17PM (#26425301)

      I don't know about you, but my newspapers constantly have articles on how the schools have no budget and the teachers are poor and the buildings are falling apart and yadda yadda yadda.
      You'd think they'd jump at a chance to save some cash, no matter how little.

      I put Microsoft's continued dominance down to momentum ("everybody uses Microsoft products") and fear ("if I decide to save some cash by moving from Windows to Linux, but the migration fails, we'll be out a lot of time and money and I'll be out on the street").

  • by AppleOSuX ( 1080499 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @07:57PM (#26425029)

    When your contract with Microsoft is about to run out, just tell them you're switching to Linux. Then you can get more Microsoft products for free.

    When Microsoft stops offering freebies, then switch to Linux.

    Problem solved.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      but that's the catch. "Freebis" like Sharepoint tie Server, AD, SQL, and Exchange together in a way that simply can't be migrated to OSS. Sure it can be replicated, but you would have to rebuild everything done before to move off it. There are dozens of other MS products that tied in a similar manner. Not bad products, but the combine products can't be got away from easily.

  • When you almost always win.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 12, 2009 @08:10PM (#26425207)

    Check his posting history (with all his 40 sock accounts), the guy does nothing but paste links to that blog. Recent example []. Look at his comments, submissions and journal entries. Aside from "M$" what you'll see are links to that blog. And surprise, it's AdSense-enabled!

    I think someone just figured out:

    1. Collect underpants
    2. Bash Microsoft
    3. Profit!

    Lame, lame lame.

  • by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @08:12PM (#26425229)

    it shows that nothing has changed at Microsoft in the past 20 years. There is no "new Microsoft", there is no "kinder, gentler Microsoft", and there is no "Microsoft is a friend to open source".

    It's all a lie for the purpose of furthering their goal of making sure Windows is the only OS for the vast majority of the populations.



  • rear guard action (Score:3, Informative)

    by the_B0fh ( 208483 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @08:34PM (#26425491) Homepage

    Look at what's happening across the world: []

    the government's documented savings is US$10mil last year. And there are numerous undocumented savings, as well as followons, schools are now putting OSS in, etc etc.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:39PM (#26426877)

    I made the switch to Linux with Ubuntu because, for most things, it works just plain better than Windows. But, getting this point across to the people I work with is, well, proving rather difficult.

    Why is that? Because:

    1) People are gullible. The people that make decisions about purchasing first look at a glossy sales brochure or pick what they saw advertised on TV. Then they then ask "Is this okay?" Linux doesn't have any shiny brochures, we never get asked if it's okay.

    2) People are terrified of change, any change. They won't admit it, but they are. It's not that Linux is still harder to use than Windows (honestly, it's the other way around now, and I've proved it to people); it's that people don't want to change, even for the better.

    3) People are lazy. I had instructors DEMANDING that I dual-boot to Linux (so I used a VMware image instead) and then they went off to teach MS Office instead of Open-Office... because there's a course-pack/textbook that includes online testing and grading (so they don't have to do any work).

    In short, the problem is inertia. Unfortunately, Linux is going to have to get way better than Windows before the Educational "ship" can start to make some course corrections. Dumb, fearful, lazy people have to be beaten over the head with the obvious before they will change direction.

    Now, the appropriate tool to beat said people over the head with is a turn-key Linux distribution that integrates into an Active Directory domain, right out of the box. One that includes an image-casting process that allows 100s of computers to be managed (deployed, updated, etc.) from a central console (PXE boot, the works). If I had that (turn-key), I might make some progress around here... though it would still take a while.

    FOSS will eventually dominate education. It is inevitable. The Linux distributions out there are making phenomenal strides towards ease-of-use and overall functionality. In most aspects, they have already bested Windows. But, it will take time to overcome the inertia in Education. Honestly, I expect the business world will actually turn first. Education, despite its best efforts, is surprisingly conservative.


  • by john_chr ( 700513 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @11:00PM (#26427111)
    I'm a parent rep on a school ICT sub-committee that looked at ICT for the extension of our school that will extend into High School (grades 7-10, current school is only Kinder - 6) here in Australia. They were already heavily into Macs but we looked at equivalent Windows laptops and they came with no additional software and a heavy admin cost. For creativity the iLife software could not be beat. The iWork software was also dirt cheap for edu use. Then when it came to also using iPod Touch as handheld media devices for the students, any Windows solution was nowhere near for the price. Sure - you can get really cheap windows laptops but add on software and admin costs and there was no comparison.
  • by ikekrull ( 59661 ) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @04:06AM (#26429455) Homepage

    Linux is pretty bad when it comes to central management.

    Its possible to roll a managed solution for a mixed Windows/Linux network with authentication based on LDAP and file sharing based on NFS and SAMBA, web apps authing back to LDAP, homedirs shared by NFS with a single client image installed from USB.

    But its pretty ugly, insecure and requires a hell of a lot of application-specific configuration to get it to work seamlessly.

    I know this, because I am responsible for administering a school network using Linux for servers and desktops (I inherited the system after a former disgruntled sysadmin left), and it is a hell of a lot more tricky than it could be.

    Everything we have pretty much works, but i'm the only one associated with the organisation who can come remotely close to knowing how stuff works or what to do when stuff breaks. At least my business model is 'recession-proof', but frankly, the people running the school are powerless, and disenfranchised, and i find it pretty difficult to articulate any actual benefits of keeping the system on Linux beyond the expense involved in switching back to Windows - this is not the picture a lot of OSS advocates paint, or the way it should be.

    It's been nothing but pain setting the system up - Its a good deal for me as they're kind of stuck paying me to admin the system, but does it really have to be this complex?

    I'm a huge linux geek with a lot of real world programming and admin experiences, and the bottom line is if i had to do it again for another school, i'd pass and suggest they use Windows.

    Thats why Windows wins in schools.

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