BECTA just published an interim report for schools to consider before “upgrading” to MS Vista and Office 2007. Full report is not out until 2008.
One or two choice comments :-
“The new features of Vista add value but do not justify early deployment in the educational ICT estate. Educational institutions are strongly advised to consider the findings of Bectaâ€™s final report on Vista before considering any wide-scale deployment.”
“Of the 176 new features of Office 2007 identified, many are considered to be of more use to a business than to an educational institution. Following their analysis, Oakleigh concluded that none of these new features were â€˜must haveâ€™.”
“With Office 2007, Microsoft introduces a new UI for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook, but there is no â€˜classicâ€™ mode â€“ that is to say, it is not possible to revert to the earlier UI. Should mixtures of Office versions be deployed (which could occur, for example, when educational institutions purchase new equipment with Office 2007 pre-installed), this will cause usability issues as users will be faced with different UIs depending on which machine they are using at any given time.”
“It should be noted that, in reality, the major obstacle to the deployment of Office 2007 may well be that many users are satisfied with the functionality of their existing versions of Office, and therefore do not see the need to upgrade.”
“Using the default file format of Microsoft Office 2007 therefore has the potential to exacerbate â€˜digital divideâ€™ issues as a result of the loss of interoperability with free-to-use products. Becta considers that educational institutions should only consider deploying Office 2007 when they are assured of its interoperability with alternative products including free-to-use products such as OpenOffice.org.”
Microsoft should seek to improve the compatibility of Office 2007 with earlier versions of MS Word, and should also consider how the interoperability with MS Works could be further improved.
Microsoft should move to provide native support for the ODF file format as soon as is practical and at the latest by mid 2007.
Schools and colleges should only deploy Office 2007 when its interoperability with alternative products is satisfactory.”
All of the above is of particular interests to individualsÂ (me) and companies, who do not have the benefit of a massive subsidy when buying computer kit.