Vista gets tested for schools

Government-commissioned review of Vista and Office 2007 for the education sector is underway

UK schools may be able to install Microsoft's upcoming Vista operating system early next year, following a review by the Government.

Becta, the Government's advisor on IT in schools, told ZDNet UK on Tuesday it had commissioned a review of Microsoft's Vista and Office 2007 products. A favourable review would pave the way for schools to buy Vista software. The results of the review are expected to be published in early January.

Schools are strongly encouraged by the Government to use Becta's frameworks for large purchases — these frameworks are a tight set of rules that recommended particular suppliers and software.

Microsoft is one of Becta's biggest suppliers. The two organisations signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) three years ago to firm up contract terms for the supply of Microsoft's software, but the agreement is due to run out at the end of December.

Becta spokesperson Lesley Leon told ZDNet UK it was currently "in discussion with Microsoft on potential successor arrangements to the current MoU", although she said details had not been finalised. Leon declined to say whether the expiry of the current MoU would give Becta scope to consider supplier options outside Microsoft.

Becta has recently come under fire from a parliamentary motion, filed by 19 MPs, accusing it of favouring proprietary software at the expense of open source.