Here published with kind permission by Cybersource Pty. Ltd.

Victoria Education Kowtows to Microsoft. Yet Again.

25th October, 2007

While the rest of the world increasingly looks to Linux and open source software as the optimal choice for computing in schools, the Victorian Department of Education is heading in the wrong direction by adopting Windows Vista. In the process, the Department is killing platform competition, shunning local software suppliers and depriving school children of a wealth of fantastic educational software.

The Victorian Department of Education has again neglected the market, side-stepped competition by open tender and signed yet another deal1 with Microsoft - excluding all other platform vendors, to deploy Windows Vista - an operating system shunned by the rest of IT industry.

"This disregard for alternatives has gone on for long enough and has to be stopped," said Cybersource CEO Con Zymaris, a long-time proponent of Linux and open source software, the primary competitor to Microsoft. "We call on the Department of Education to ensure that its tenders for computer platform, office productivity and related desktop software are truly open to the market, to give vendors besides Microsoft the opportunity to submit bids."

"Amazingly, while the rest of the world is rejecting Vista, our education departments are bending over backwards to adopt the problematic platform," continued Zymaris. "Journalist after journalist, industry analyst after analyst has seen fit to warn consumers and business off Vista. In but one example, the influential Dutch Consumers’ Counsel has warned its constituents to avoid Vista, after receiving over 5000 complaints about Vista in only a single month. Vista is a quagmire for most users, but Education Victoria are happy to be Microsoft's patsy and waste Victorian taxpayer money in the process."

Rather than look to Vista, school districts across North America, Europe, East Asia, India, South America and Africa, are moving away from Windows to Linux. The Russian government is moving all schools across to Linux in 20092. There are hundreds of thousands of educational Linux systems in Spain3.

"Linux and open source delivers a broader range of technologies to schools and pupils, because one of the great advantages of Linux and open source software is that schools can now afford all forms of technical, graphical, educational and business apps - it's all free software after all. This in turn leads to better educational outcomes. Open source software also leads to positives for those local ICT industries, as billions of dollars aren't sucked out of the coffers of school districts, to pay for Microsoft licence fees," Zymaris said.

"The funny thing is, Microsoft would probably pay handsomely to ensure that school children learn Microsoft products and not alternatives like Linux and open source. Instead of using this fact to demand that Microsoft covers the costs involved in deploying Microsoft's wares, the Victorian Department of Education is actually paying $23 million in Microsoft licence fees alone," continued Zymaris.

"By subverting the power of competitive markets, the Department of Education is hurting local platform vendors. By keeping innovative technology off school desks and by adopting Vista, they're wasting taxpayer money. And by stubbornly refusing to seriously consider alternative technologies such as Linux and open source, they are shackling themselves to the Microsoft upgrade treadmill in perpetuity," concluded Zymaris.