The government has secured a new licensing deal with Microsoft that will give schools more freedom to use software from different firms, and will ultimately save schools £10m over the next three years.
At the moment schools are often limited in the types of software they can pair with their Microsoft applications.
"The deal will offer schools better discounts and better deals in licensing. Before schools were restricted in the types of software they could use," said a Department for Education (DfE) spokesman.
"Now they have the freedom to use new software with their Microsoft applications. They could also use a mix of Microsoft and 'freeware' apps," he added.
Under a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), signed at the beginning of this month, all schools will be given improved discounts on Microsoft academic software, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and SharePoint.
The discounts will amount to £10m in savings by 2015. The DfE could not comment on the amount UK schools spend on Microsoft software nationally.
The deal builds on an old MoU the government signed with Microsoft in 2007.
The deal has been secured by the Government Procurement Service. It recently agree improved IT licensing deals for the public sector, including with SAP and Oracle.
The government is currently reforming the ICT curriculum in schools, and a new programme of study will be launched in schools in September 2014.
The revised ICT curriculum is expected to carry less of an emphasis on Microsoft applications.
At the moment the DfE is working on a draft version of the new ICT curriculum, having had strong input from the British Computer Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering.
However the DfE has not widely consulted with teachers, education advisors or IT professionals in its reforms.
A national consultation on the curriculum will occur some point this year, but many fear this consultation will be too late since the draft curriculum is now already in place.
V3 has launched a Make IT Better campaign, which calls on the government to make the ICT curriculum process more transparent.
During the campaign V3 has repeatedly heard from professionals and teachers concerned that their views have been ignored.
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