Microsoft’s UK VARs have been dealt a blow after the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta) decided to review the IT giant’s licensing arrangements with schools and colleges.
The review will include the range, scope and cost of academic licensing models, as well as the risks associated with non-perpetual licenses through an examination of the costs of licence agreements.
Owen Lynch, chief executive of Becta, said: “In areas where a single supplier is dominant, particular vigilance is necessary to guarantee that [value for money] happens.”
Becta will also look at the advantages that could be gained by schools and colleges switching to new Microsoft software products, such as its Vista operating system.
“I am particularly keen to ensure that where there are alternative products to those available from the dominant supplier, schools have easy access to them,” Lynch added.
Last year Becta created a catalogue of 16 channel suppliers, including Trustmarque Solutions, Teksys and Research Machines (RM), able to supply software exclusively to UK schools (CRN, 18 April).
David Burrows, director of education at Microsoft UK, said: “This review fulfils part of Becta’s role as the government’s strategic partner in the development of IT in education. We are confident that our products and solutions continue to deliver value for money and meet educational needs.”
Phil Hemmings, director of corporate affairs at RM, said: “I suspect it will result in changes to Microsoft licensing programmes, such as lower rates. However, the value to us is in associated services and in building long-term customer relationships.”
Shaune Fröhlich, executive chairman of Teksys, added: “The channel won’t be too fearful of this. However, I wouldn’t underestimate Becta's influence on how to buy, rather than what to buy.”
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