The Scottish Executive has signalled a possible move away from Microsoft Office with the signing on Thursday of a deal that will enable it to manage licences for Sun's StarOffice7 suite of office applications.
As a result of the deal, any school, college, university or local authority in Scotland will be able to ask the Executive to manage its licences.
The Executive has not actually bought any licences -- which are provided at no cost to educational establishments under Sun's StarOffice 7 Education Licensing programme. But the deal will allow it to provide licensing support for 2,833 Scottish schools - which would mean 738,597 students and 50,048 teachers using StarOffice if every school decided to take advantage of the offer.
"The Executive is taking on a reseller role," said a Sun spokeswoman. "An institution can still go to Sun to get the software, but now the Executive will be able to take a lot of the hassle of managing licences off their hands." Sun says that it charges a "a small fee" to cover duplication costs of the software.
Each StarOffice licence allows the software to be installed on five different PCs, letting people run it at work and at home, for example.
Information about how to obtain copies of the licence will be distributed through Learning and Teaching Scotland and other agencies in the near future, said Sun.