Primary schools could cut their computer costs by nearly half if they stopped buying, operating and supporting products from the world's largest software company, government research has found.
Secondaries could also slash their information technology overheads by a quarter if they moved away from Microsoft and other commercial programs, according to an analysis carried out by the British Educational Communications and Technology Association, the Government's ICT agency.
The findings could undermine Microsoft's hold on the education market, but they raise the prospect of millions of pounds of savings for British schools and colleges which spend around pound;1 billion a year on ICT.
In a report to be published next week, obtained by The TES, Becta will highlight schools which have turned to free software instead of the market leader's products. Becta does not name Microsoft in its analysis. But almost all schools use some of the company's products.
The association analysed costs at 33 schools which use paid-for software, and compared them with 15 which have pioneered the use of free programs, known as open source, and the pared-down hardware to run them.
Average costs, including software, hardware and support costs, were 24 per cent less per computer in secondaries using open source.
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