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UK tech agency warns schools on Vista licensing

Becta, the British government's agency for education technology (does the U.S.

Becta, the British government's agency for education technology (does the U.S. have anything remotely similar?), is telling schools not to sign licensing agreements with Microsoft, Ars Technica reports.

At issue: Microsoft's School Agreement program, which offers admins the comfort of a single license for all Windows PCs in the school. You also get all the app and OS updates released while the license is in effect.

Becta is concerned that it's not clear how much a school would have to pay to buy out of the program and that Microsoft won't let schools switch to a perpetual license unless they make a buy-out payment. Becta isn't pleased that all PCs on a campus must be part of the program, even if they can't run Vista or Office 2007.

Becta doesn't encourage schools to use Vista in any case. It says the new feature benefits don't justify the cost of upgrading and Office 2007 doesn't adequately support OpenDoc Format, the open source format for office documents.

A report released last summer by Forrester Research questioned the value of Microsoft's Software Assurance subscription licensing program. It looked at the average annual cost of a SA agreement and found that it ended up costing companies significantly more money over a four-year period. Those costs increased if a new version was delayed even more.