Microsoft-commissioned study: European schools prefer Microsoft to open-source

A new Microsoft-commissioned study, entitled “ICT in European Schools: a value and cost analysis of Microsoft and Open Source Technology Solutions," is out. Guess whether the 73 schools surveyed favored Microsoft or OSS solutions.

Yet another Microsoft-commissioned study, comparing Microsoft technologies to open-source software, is out, as of June 13.

The new report, entitled “ICT in European Schools: a value and cost analysis of Microsoft and Open Source Technology Solutions," was conducted by Wipro Technologies and paid for by Microsoft.

(ICT stands for Information and Communication Technology.)

Wipro Technologies is a Gold Certified Microsoft partner. It has alliances on the education, systems-integration and OEM fronts, among others, with Microsoft. Wipro also was one of a handful of systems-integrator partners who are part of the Vista Application Compatibility Factory, an initiative via which Microsoft will help business customers pair up with Vista-deployment experts to guide users over potential app-compat hurdles.

Wipro has conducted at least one other Microsoft-commissioned "Get the Facts" study, on the topic of the total cost of ownership of security-patch management for Windows vs. open-source software.

The newest Wipro study found that "among students, teachers and administrators in 73 schools across six European countries, Microsoft products are preferred to OSS equivalents and are better suited to the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) requirements of European primary and secondary schools." Microsoft products won in a variety of categories, the study found: ease of use; richness of functionality; support for collaboration; and support for core student, teacher and administrative activities.

Microsoft products also "were considerably less expensive to manage and maintain than open source equivalents," according to the study, a copy of which can be downloaded from the Microsoft Downloads site.

Other findings from the study:

* "Overall, schools primarily using Microsoft solutions invest 16.9 per cent less resources in IT support than schools using primarily OSS solutions. In Poland, however, this figure is 37.86 per cent, less reflecting the limited availability of OSS support resources in that country." (Note to OSS community: Send some of your excessive Scandanavian population over to Poland right now!)

* "PC failures are 50 per cent more common in the schools using OSS than in schools using Microsoft overall, and schools with experience of both platforms find that troubleshooting and resolution activities for Microsoft products were better defined and better documented." (My question: Does this figure include downtime due to blue screen of deaths?)

It seems like one of the main targets of this latest Microsoft-backed study is Open Office. (Just another extension of the Open XML vs. ODF file format wars, I'd say.)  According to Wipro's findings:

"In schools where both Microsoft Office and Open Office are available, student and teacher satisfaction with Microsoft is consistently higher. For desktop productivity, 48–50 per cent of schools reported that student satisfaction with Microsoft products is higher than with OSS, but only 17–26 per cent reported the same for the open source platform."

(But wait: Isn't it Microsoft's publicly-stated position that Open Office is hardly denting Office's market share? Or is that just true in the U.S.?)

Microsoft's summer campaign against open source is marching on. Next battleground: The O'Reilly Open Source Conference, mid-July.

Yes, as I've said before, I find these Microsoft-commissioned studies dubious on a variety of fronts.  Anyone else feel the same?


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