January 11, 2007 8:12 AM PST

British agency tells schools to avoid Vista

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The dawn of Vista

January 26, 2007
The British government's schools computer agency has warned that deploying Vista carries too much risk and that its benefits are unclear.

The British Educational Communications and Technology Agency said Wednesday that it "strongly recommends" schools do not deploy Microsoft's latest operating system within the next 12 months.

In a further dig at Microsoft, the agency asserts that there are no "must-have" features in Vista and that "technical, financial and organizational challenges associated with early deployment currently make this (Vista) a high-risk strategy."

Tom McMullan, a technical consultant at the agency, told ZDNet UK: "There is not a case for schools to deploy it unless it is mission-critical stable." Speaking at this week's BETT education trade show in London, McMullan added: "There are lots of incremental improvements, but there are no must-haves that justify early deployment."

The agency was similarly dismissive of Office 2007, which is being launched alongside Vista. Although it acknowledged that there are many new features in Office 2007, the agency said most of these were only useful in the private sector.

Microsoft waved aside such caution.

Steve Beswick, Microsoft's director of education for the U.K., told ZDNet UK: "Customers should evaluate Vista and test it and decide 'Is this good for learning?' Roll-out shouldn't be stopped if it aids learning."

Earlier this month, the government agency renewed its Memorandum of Understanding with Microsoft for another year. It gives schools discounts of 20 percent to 37 percent on the company's software products.

Richard Thurston of ZDNet UK reported from London.

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agency, school, Microsoft Office 2007, Microsoft Windows Vista, London

37 comments

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Is Vista Really Worth it?
Personal take on this

a) MS Windows OS rollout since Windows 3.11 is anything but stable until 1 year after launch with the notable exception of Windows 98

b) Upgrading of Vista would more or less means hardware upgrade which is not most of the world could ill afford especially the educational sector

c) Is there anything worth in Vista worth upgrading for? Not now, perhaps 2 years down the road akin to the need to upgrade win98 to win xp, when the OS is perceived to be stable and the hardware supporting the OS is deemed to be cheap.

With the above reasons, I guess MS just could not force everyone to swallow vista.

I would personally use Windows XP until I am being force to. Perhaps then I would be conversant enough on Ubuntu to switch to linux or when linux games goes mainstream
Posted by wilswong (22 comments )
Reply Link Flag
nicely said
no open hostility. factual basis. rational analysis. nicely said.

I've been mucking with Linux for five or six years now (on and off depending on the learning curve). Every time I install, I learn something new be it about config and setup or available applications. I'm happy as pie with my system these days having taken the plunge to Linux as my primary OS (forceing yet more learning). On the gaming front, I'd highly recommend Linux default boot with WinXP as a secondary dual boot. You get most of your functions from Linux and the few functions only provided by Windows based applications are a quick reboot away. Better still, make your winXP install minimal (Office only if you need Word/Excel) fine tuned specifically for gaming; drop the Windows graphics and jack the game's graphics.
Posted by jabbotts (492 comments )
Link Flag
Re Is Vista Worth it, Depends
There is one major advantage of Vista over XP.

Parental Controls. You can set up white list, application limitations, time controls, ect.

Yes you can do this with XP & 3rd party applications, but not as smoothly. So for school IT administrators, this will make it easer then constantly trying to find the newest Proxy server to block, and help (not solve) the securing of the computer systems security.
Posted by pgp_protector (122 comments )
Link Flag
Sure, for some..
Why do so many sheeple think that you need to update hardware to run it. If you want Aero, you can add a new vid card. Even on 512, in classic it works better than XP. Id say, most of your other assumptions are correct as far as rollouts go, 1-2 years is a good example of the past. But, this OS is alittle different. Its more refined, more secure, and more simply deployed. I ve already, deployed Vista enterprise onto about 50 machines in a testbed..better than any other OS in that area. You should get your facts straight and use it before you knock it..
Posted by SystemsJunky (409 comments )
Link Flag
For intelligent people yes.
Moron, take on this:

a) Microsoft Windows Vista (any version) *is* stable (trying it out before you talk about it wouldn't do you any bad).

b) Upgrade of Vista in no way necessarily means any hardware upgrade unless you have a PC from the last millenium (I have a 3+ year old laptop and Vista runs on it smoothly).

c) Yes, there are - now that Vista is already stable - several things worth in Vista worth upgrading for: security is just one good example.

With the above *facts*, I say only an uninformed, biased and/or short-minded person doesn't consider Vista worth it. How funny the very same people who grew used to bash XP for the most ridiculous reasons now stick to it until they are forced to upgrade. Good luck reading manuals, finding drivers for your devices and finding software for your Ubuntu and if you're waiting for Linux games to go mainstream I would get a really nice and comfortable chair to wait on, lol.
Posted by Ryo Hazuki (378 comments )
Link Flag
Poppycock!
Had the British agency actually reviewed the Windows Vista User Guide that would have seen the vast improvements made in the OS. Essentially, it has be re-coded from the ground up with security in mind and is entirely new OS. That's uncharacteristic of the British to be so dismissive of American technology.
Posted by WJeansonne (480 comments )
Reply Link Flag
"Vast improvements"?
Can you explain for us what benefits these vast improvements might provide in an Educational setting?
Posted by mh20932 (41 comments )
Link Flag
security got some focus, not all the focus
Vista is still built to be pretty and friendly, they've simply put some attention into security finally. It should ahve been coded from the ground up but that would mean discontinueing support for everything back to ms Dos programs. I'm guessing the british did read the user guide in great detail.

Your also talking about somputers within organizations so security is provided by the network structure rather than the indavidual workstation so there's no security increase for an organization by moving to Vista outside of human error.

Don't get me wrong, it's more secure than winXP but it's still the bottom of the list in terms of comparison with other OS. There's nothing in Vista that will change your life besides the new end user license agreement.
Posted by jabbotts (492 comments )
Link Flag
Re-coded from the ground up?
Where did you get that idea? (It's wrong!).

What it *does* have is the results of MS's top to bottom code review (not recode) which happened after XP was released. It also has a new video model which will make add capability for new programs but the OS will have to be in general use before companies can commit to using the new capabilities and *thats* why the British agency's evaluation is a fair one.
Posted by HandGlad2 (91 comments )
Link Flag
Poppycock!
Had the British agency actually reviewed the Windows Vista User Guide that would have seen the vast improvements made in the OS. Essentially, it has be re-coded from the ground up with security in mind and is entirely new OS. That's uncharacteristic of the British to be so dismissive of American technology.
Posted by WJeansonne (480 comments )
Reply Link Flag
A fair assessment.
I'd say that's a fair assessment of the state of the operating system. The move from XP to Vista is non-essential, especially early on. XP is at the point now that it runs very stable and secure with little upkeep which, both fortunately and unfortunately, is a sweet spot for Microsoft. It's a hard sell to get people to upgrade to the next iteration of your product if your existing product fits the market very well.

I figure the Vista launch will mirror the XP launch. We can expect early adopters to snatch up Vista off the shelves rather quickly. They will proceed to iron out any bugs they should happen to find as the OS grows and streamlines. Then we can expect businesses and institutions to jump on board.

Upgrading is hardly an imperative, though.
Posted by Christopher Hall (1205 comments )
Reply Link Flag
First try then talk
I love how people who have not tried to OS are expressing there very smart and descriptive and unbised views.

Future suggestions:
First try the OS before making statments.
Make sure you are qualified to make statments.

Having been working on Vista for 2 month sense it came out (yes i am one of those) i can tell you that it is stable and so far is proving to be more secure then my xp. Example i would tweek my xp to hell just to make sure its safe running smothely with regular reboots and spyware checks. Now i have installed vista and have not changed ANY of the defaults in it. So far all my spyware cleans have come up with NOTHING and i have not had to reboot the system once in the 2 month its been running.

Ohh before you start going on about HARDWARE i am running vista on my 2 year old Tecram M4 Tablet from toshiba with 1gig of ram and 128MB of vedio ram.
Posted by Oleg Simkin (53 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Please tell me you're not English
I would hope that the denizens of that fair country would have acquired better proficiency with its language.

In addition to your shortcomings as a writer, you also appear to have missed the point of the article. No reference was made to the stability of Vista, nor to its hardware requirements.
Posted by mh20932 (41 comments )
Link Flag
Its Stable but,
i have also tried it and i agree it is more stable but their is no huge
advantages over xp sp2 and considering most places are only just
upgrading to xp from 2000.
considering their is no huge advantage to the upgrade it would be
a waste of money and on the hardware side. im in college most
computers are running on 256 ram and in some runs we are
running on 128 ram 1gig of ram while not considered much today
find a school which has all computers running with all above 512.
so theirs even more cost their
Posted by pbxtreme87 (7 comments )
Link Flag
First try then talk
You are right about the fact that nobody will really know how buggy Vista is until it is released and used on the open market. However, If Microsoft's history means anything, then we can expect either multiple editions or multiple service packs. The problem with playing it as close to the vest as Microsoft does is that the feedback from others is limited. Even the Anti-virus companies are having trouble getting the information of the inner workings of Vista. I will be greatly surprised if Vista isn't full of bugs. It is after all largely untested in the real world and it has a huge volume of code. If you love Vista and don't mind paying the price for it use it. As for me Xp was the end of the line and I am switching to Linux and loving it.
Posted by j0hnnyb0y (2 comments )
Link Flag
"a further dig at Microsoft"?
There was no dig at Microsoft here.

This is the same recommendation that any big business is getting; Don't install a Microsoft OS until at least SR1. There really are no "must have" features in Vista. It looks pretty but it's not going to change life, the universe and your very concept of reality. There is no negative impact to learning if students are not infront of Vista within the next year or few years even.

Organizations like school boards have layers and layers of security protection so the workstation OS is well protected regardless of how shoddy it is so sticking with winXP (I'm guessing many businesses are just migrating to XP now that win2k is dead) is no threat in not upgrading. Further still, upgrading to Vista will incure huge cost for hardware upgrades alone.

For the indavidual home user who isn't going to take the ten minutes to look at alternatives; even a small security and quality increase helps. Again though, don't touch it until at least service pack 1 comes out in six months to a year. If your a gamer, don't go near it until games force you to upgrade to DirectX10; your OS should not take resources away from the game your running. If your buying a new computer; sorry, Vista is going to be forced on you unless you get a no-OS or non-Windows machine.

None of that is a dig at Microsoft, that's just good common sense. Those of us who learn and explore OS have reason to dig into Vista since it's yet another OS to explore. At the same time, the only version that's of interest is Vista Pro (unless you want the crippled feature set) but the license cost is far too high.
Posted by jabbotts (492 comments )
Reply Link Flag
How schools run themselves
I am a school governor. Your comments about highly managed and well managed systems by experts is not quite there. I also ran a school IT network for 3 years many years ago.

Systems get attacked from the outside in and from the inside out. They need protection at both levels. The security features in Vista would help there.

On the UI front, some people find XPs interface great, others need a bit more encouragment - Vista can offer something more exciting that a change of icons.

On the search front - being able to find information in a school setting would be amazingly useful - think how much time you spent searching for information at a school - having it onhand would be a superb benefit for both students and pupils.

Finally, surely it is about choice. No one should deploy Vista or Office without the skills to do so (either the school or a consultancy who can help) and a knowledge of the needs it will fulfil.

Some people will see those needs sooner than others, but I am sure that plenty will deploy before a service pack and be as happy as larry!
Posted by doverton12 (2 comments )
Link Flag
Not news
Usually corporations do not adopt service packs for 6 to 8 months to have the products tested fully, OS's is the same, I mean there are still people using NT and 2000. I think its very normal for large corporations not to adopt the latest software titles until fully tested on their networks etc...

I have been using Vista and feel it is a healthy upgrade and the new product does address quite a few issues I had with XP. I think everyone will give you a different opinion about Vista but I like it.
Posted by Mr-P (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
A massive waste of public funds
So, let's select an Operating System that requires constant upkeep, patches upon patches upon patches, 3rd party software to keep it from being riddled with viruses and spyware - and even when we know better - let's consider upgrading to another version that's done it's best to emulate a far better OS (and GUI). This really makes little sense to me when there are easy-to-deploy solutions that don't have the associated money-pit that MS brings to the table.
Posted by grapesmc (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Waste
I'll tell you what a waste is...
Giving 13yr old students iBooks for them to destroy within a year, thats a waste bubba...

Prost
Posted by SystemsJunky (409 comments )
Link Flag
This is fair
Even in the OSS world, mass upgrades normally don't happen until at least x.1 version comes out. And hardly anyone ever upgrades for the sake of it.

This is good practical advice, valid for any system. Just because MS happens to produce the worlds most shoddy OS's is beside the point. It is just plain good advice.
Posted by qwerty75 (1164 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This is bad
Just because MS happens to produce the world's most used OS it doesn't mean it is bad or you and others have to hate it.
Anyone who actually knows about Vista and its improvents especially in terms of security could never consider a "good advice" to advise people to stick to XP, but I am aware that to ask people to learn about a Microsoft product before talking about it is asking way too much for their intellectual capacities.
Posted by Ryo Hazuki (378 comments )
Link Flag
British agency gives bad blind advice
Advantages of Vista are unclear? I think the British Agency ought to learn about Vista and its improvements over XP, especially in termos of the much important security, before giving any kind of advice regarding it, but maybe that's me.
Posted by Ryo Hazuki (378 comments )
Reply Link Flag
'New' features are not the issue.
BECTA is effectively a state funded Industry Analyst and Consultancy organisation specifically for the UK education (both state and independent schools) market place. It fulfils role of the high cost organisations such as IDC, Gartner, Datamonitor, PriceWaterhouse Coopers, LogicaCMG, Capgemini, Accenture etc.
Suggestions that the organisation has not read a manual or looked at a product before making a recommendation should be viewed in the same was as suggestions that the listed commercial organisations would have behaved in the same way.
The recommendation may not sit well with those who own Microsoft pyjamas, but it is well considered and thoroughly researched.
Petty much every school in the UK has been dealing with the colourfully described limitations of functionality and security in Microsoft environments for many years, and have invested heavily (either individually or collectively) in systems and software to mitigate them. Many of the additional features of Vista repeat what has already been deployed, and are therefore, by definition, not ?must have? because they are ?already have?. The espoused stability of Vista is not actually very important, what is at risk is the stability of the whole environment when such a piece is replaced. A typical school with 11-19 year olds may have 70 or more different application packages distributed across the network, many of which have very specific teaching purposes (Dyslexia support to 3D CAD/CAM) and some of which may be ?quite old? but irreplaceable in educational terms. Schools generally are dealing with more diversity in service requirement than the most complex multi-national, and availability requirements which equal those of a bank (down time does not cost money, but curriculum time, which can never be recovered). The core competency however remains developing understanding in the young, while adapting to continually ?developing? government education policy.
Last week the minister announced that a key ICT application skills test which is to be mandatory for 13-14 year olds in 2008, and which has been developed and piloted in schools over the last two and a half years (with much disruption to the required curriculum and at much time and expense to the schools), will in fact now no longer be compulsory. Schools no longer have the luxury of ?trying out? the latest and greatest. Migration to a newly developed desktop platform in this environment is going to be very painful for all. Becta suggested that schools wait in order to reduce the level of pain. Seems like sound advice. It has never been about MS vs everyone else.
That said of course, it was a recommendation. I would certainly hope we don?t all do something just because a consultant tells us that it?s a good idea. The government recommends we eat healthy food; are you obliged to refrain from McD?s?
Oh, and me? Do I work for Becta, no! I?m ex-big name (mostly US) IT vendors (hardware and software) at EMEA and International level. I am now driving strategy for the use of ICT in education at a top UK state school.
Posted by teast.twelve (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
I'm not upgrading...
For 2 reasons.

1. Too much DRM.

2. Direct Hardware Access has been disabled for sound and it's all software emulated.

If that's true I'm never upgrading.

I'm hapy with Ubuntu 6.06 DD 64bit.

Complicated, yes. Every initial setuo is. But I can now browse the internet without any interuptions or reinstalling the Windows XP every 3 months thanks to spyware or blue screen and constant crashing.

I can even watch tv on Ubuntu with my PCI card. And my Samsung Printer ML-2510 even works in Ubuntu.

I'm waiting for MAC os 10.5 to come out. It's supposed to let you run windows apps directly from MAC OS X without an Emulator.

Best of both. Finally ditch Windoze all to gether.

Not Micro$$oft another penny.

C out.
Posted by Confusimo (1 comment )
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