The British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta) has recommended that schools hold off upgrading to Windows Vista and Office 2007, citing no important benefits and a lot of extra costs.
Becta's interim report on Vista and Office 2007 said that upgrading to Vista would cost a primary school around £4,000 and a secondary school up to £25,000, but that there is nothing in the two applications that is a "must have".
If the entire school system was to upgrade to Vista it would cost over £160m, excluding the hardware upgrade costs needed to run the operating system's Aero interface.
"The enhancements in Vista add value but do not justify its early deployment in the educational environment," the report stated. "Early deployment is considered high risk and strongly recommended against."
The report suggests that Microsoft should sponsor a few small pilot schemes to try Vista and Office 2007, but that otherwise schools should wait until Becta's final report in 2008.
The agency found that many of Vista's key selling points, such as Media Centre and Bitlocker, are of little value in an educational context. Others, like Internet Explorer 7 and Media Player are already available and free.
Upgrading would also trigger a massive upgrade cycle owing to the demands of the Aero interface.
A maximum of six per cent of the computers in schools could run with Aero switched on, according to Becta, and 55 per cent still could not use Vista even with Aero switched off.
Upgrade costs for Office 2007 are the same as for Vista, and the report stated that the 176 new features in the suite are largely aimed at business and that none is a "must have" for an educational establishment.
In addition many students have been trained on older Office software and the 2007 suite's user interface is completely different and has no option to revert to the 'classic' view.
This would cause problems if students have to switch between older and newer machines.
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