And many of us would agree because *we* are the people who have done that rant ... and occasionally there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Over the last few weeks I've had a few interesting conversations with a number of resellers and it was brilliant to to see the news finally come out on Ray Fleming's blog earlier about changes to Schools Agreement licences.
Full details will be out around BETT 2011 but here is a short extract from Ray's blog with some important things for you to look at now.
Firstly, let me remind you that this is advance warning of a change coming on the 1st March 2011. So you can't get this new agreement now.*But here's some advice on what you can do now:
- If you are going to renew a School Agreement between now and the 1st March, ask your Microsoft partner whether you'd be best to get a short-term extension for your School Agreement. This would give you 3 months of cover, to take you through until you can switch to EES. Your Microsoft Partner will be able to advise you if this is likely to save you money.
- If you're planning to buy any Microsoft software in the next year, then consider coming along to our BETT stand in January, and having a chat with us about your best option.*<em>If your Head Teacher is reluctant to sign off a day out of school, then point out how much you might save with the new way of counting (staff, not computers).
- If you're not buying your software under a School Agreement subscription already, then take a look at this, and have a chat with other schools locally that are. Although the new EES scheme isn't the same, you'll get a good idea of the benefits of subscriptions over other methods, and that will help you to make the right informed choice for next year.
Now, I know many people are against subscriptions ... and I have been there too. The idea of buying a perpetual licence sounds good to us all, especially if you don't upgrade with every new version of the OS or Office Suite when it comes out, so we would all be forgiven for getting frustrated with the cost of upgrades (especially when you don't get all the features with standard upgrade packages and need to cough up a bit more cash) against an annual cost. However, the new scheme actually comes out pretty good on the prices when you look at the cost of when you upgrade versions of your OS and various software packages ... for most secondaries you would find that it wasn't worth the cost to go to an annual model unless you had some major software replacement needs ... but now ... it is looking pretty good.
The full figures should be out in Jan (the scheme goes live for schools in March ... and is live now for FE/HE) but if you are looking at buying under Select licences (especially if you are using software assurance) then make plans to look at ESS instead.
Your reseller should be talking to you about the changes shortly, but if they don't then tell them you want more information. If you are already on the Schools Agreement then make sure that you only sign up for an extension and not for a full year. You need to make sure you get your extension in *before* your SA deal runs out. Make sure your reseller gets the forms to you sharpish.
So ... there you have it ... a major change in the approach to licences from Microsoft ... so, they obviously have listened. There will still be those that want it for free, and those who say you shouldn't use those products anyway ... but a reality check here ... people are using MS products and will continue to for some time so you need to keep an eye on this.
Will it ever be free? Who knows? All I know is that this is a chance for a lot of my local schools to save considerable amounts of money as well as getting more benefits too.