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No Office 2007 for UK classrooms?

InformationWeek is reporting on new complaints from the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (BECTA) against Microsoft's lack of support for open standards. Now that OOXML has been adopted as an ISO standard, it's hard to say where this will go; however, the agency makes the case for steering clear of the software when open source alternatives are available.
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Written by Christopher Dawson on

InformationWeek is reporting on new complaints from the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (BECTA) against Microsoft's lack of support for open standards. Now that OOXML has been adopted as an ISO standard, it's hard to say where this will go; however, the agency makes the case for steering clear of the software when open source alternatives are available.

According to the article,

BECTA claims that Office 2007's underlying format, known as Office Open XML, is not interoperable with software from other vendors.

"It is not just the interests of competitors and the wider marketplace that are damaged when barriers to effective interoperability are created. Such barriers can also damage the interests of education and training organization, learners, teachers and parents," said Stephen Lucey, BECTA's executive director for strategic technologies, also in a statement.

OpenOffice 3.0 handles OOXML (if a bit roughly while still in beta), as does NeoOffice. It does seem reasonable to use systems that support the formats students will be using at home. Increasingly, this means ODF, as fewer students and parents are willing to shell out money for the latest version of Office.

It is worth noting that BECTA has also recommended against the adoption of Vista, and suggest careful consideration of Linux for new deployments.

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