I just finished a post on Ubuntu 8.04; the OS has converted my son from a Linux-hater to an OS-not-carer (yes, I just made that term up, but I think you know what I mean). Then I stumbled across a ComputerWorld article on the inevitability of Vista adoption in the enterprise.
The article itself actually made some good points.
"Vista is an inevitability, for a number of reasons," said Ben Gray, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc... "They are sort of in a 'caught between a rock and a hard place' situation," said Gray. Administrators may not want to move to Vista, but neither of the alternatives -- the older XP and the not-even-officially-scheduled Windows 7 -- is attractive, he said.
In a report he authored, Gray damned Vista with some faint praise, saying that for large businesses, there was "no viable alternative." Companies may talk about non-Windows operating systems -- Apple Inc.'s Mac OS X and the open-source Linux in particular -- but "they're not looking to swap out thousands of users," Gray said.
Therein lies a problem that large businesses face but that is far less significant for many educational institutions. When thousands of users are supported by mission-critical applications that depend on a Windows ecosystem (and have required substantial investments of time, training, and money), then a platform shift is nothing to sneeze at. Perhaps Vista is inevitable for these folks.
However, Ed Tech is different. For many of us, the groups we support are small enough that a platform shift is far more manageable. In many cases, especially in developing countries and underserved innercity or rural populations, an infrastructure is just beginning to emerge. There are no villages in Africa that I know of with a significant investment in Microsoft Exchange Server.
Certainly, there are large districts, colleges, and universities that fit the enterprise model the article addresses. In these cases, Vista really might be the best choice. Even in my relatively small school, the soonest that most students would be moving to a non-Windows platform is a year and half away. Do we have places where kids can be exposed to other operating systems? You bet. Are we moving wherever possible to platform-independent applications? Definitely.
We are schools, after all, right? What should we be doing in our universities besides pushing boundaries and exploring new ideas and ways of doing business? The same spirit can certainly live in our primary and secondary schools where we can invite change in ways that large enterprises often cannot. Is Vista inevitable? Not here in Ed Tech.