The report is recommended for schools, government and partners, industry and developers. It will be indeed important to see if the Bulgarian government will listen to this report, esp. that some of the biggest proponents of Microsoft in Bulgaria have given the example of the UK as a model for development of e-government.
Here are some of the most remarkable moments in this report (bold text is mine).
The report found that whilst the new features of Vista add value, there are no “must have” features in the product that would justify early deployment in schools and colleges. The technical, financial and organisational challenges associated with early deployment currently make this a high risk strategy. Early deployment is therefore strongly recommended against.
The report recommends that Microsoft should facilitate a small number of pilot activities to clarify what the benefits of deploying Vista in schools and colleges would be and how much deployment would cost. The costs of a widespread deployment of Vista are currently estimated to be around ?160 million while the benefits are unclear.
Schools and colleges are strongly advised to consider the findings of Becta’s final report on Vista due by January 2008 before considering any wide-scale deployment.
The review of Office 2007 identified that there were over 170 new features in the product, but considered that many of them were of more use in a business rather than an educational context. A detailed analysis of the new functionality found that none of the new features were a “must have” for schools and colleges.
As the costs of deployment of Office 2007 would be significant, Becta has not identified any convincing justification for the early adoption of Office 2007. Recognising that many schools and colleges already have perfectly adequate office productivity solutions there would need to be a strong case to justify the necessary investment.
The report compared Office 2007 with a range of competitor products and found that many of them delivered about 50% of the Office 2007 functionality, enough it is believed to meet or exceed basic office productivity requirements of many schools.
Becta therefore calls on the ICT industry to ensure that computers for the education marketplace are delivered with a choice of Office productivity suites available, which ideally should include an open-source offering.
The ability for schools to exercise choice is further restricted by interoperability difficulties and Becta is calling on Microsoft to improve its support for the ODF interoperability standard.
You can read the full report at this address (PDF, 332 Kb).