Ministry of Education renews Microsoft Schools Agreement for 2010-2012

The NZ Ministry of Education has renewed the Microsoft Schools Agreement for New Zealand schools for 2010-2012. Whilst I have yet to see the agreement, it continues the trend of these agreements and will provide welcome continuity for school administrators and IT staff. The new agreement provides effective transitions for most existing software packages whilst it also adds Windows 7 Enterprise Edition as a new operating system choice. As Windows XP support is phased out, schools will need to look hard at moving their Windows OS platform to Windows 7, preferably skipping over Vista due to the latter’s many problems which are experienced in domain type environments. Our site is a Windows site for the most part. This leverages the high cost benefit of Windows Server operating systems for managing Windows desktop OSs, the latter being effectively free under these deals except for the modest cost of lower end desktop OEM licenses on new PCs. Microsoft continues as a market leader in new emerging technologies such as virtualisation, in which the developments are likely to benefit education significantly.

I expect as Windows 7 becomes available it will start to be deployed to our staff computers next year and that the Ministry’s leased laptops will start to be delivered with it preinstalled, if not we will install our own house image, building on experience already gained with Vista. That has been a bit of a watershed, and I am still disappointed that Microsoft is not resolving the significant problems that Vista has had in terms of its speed and reliability. I will still have a PC running Windows Vista at my desk for some considerable time, years even, along with XP, because there are still some things out there that won’t run on 7 or have not yet been ported. Although, it is fair to say, with a Hyper-V server, I can run some of those things on an XP virtual machine (for example, the Remote Desktops MMC snap-in) to similar effect without the physical machine. Virtualisation continues to offer new opportunities, and schools such as ours could well extend the use of older PCs using Remote Desktop Services the way that it has traditionally been used in other institutions for years.