EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS


Microsoft’s Exclusionary Deal in the UK: BECTA

Posted in Deals, Europe, Microsoft, Novell, Windows at 6:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

BECTA: The ‘Novell’ of the British Government?

“The press appears to be portraying BECTA as a victim at the moment, but that’s not the full story.”BECTA is a government-associated body which procures for education in the United Kingdom. The press appears to be portraying BECTA as a victim at the moment, but that’s not the full story. Biased and one-sided journalism? Well, what else is new?

It is actually the BBC that offers sympathy to BECTA. Ironically, yet unsurprisingly, the BBC itself is a 'victim' of Microsoft (mind the comments int he cited page). The same goes for the British Library and National Archives, but they are not this post’s focus. In short, a lot of the British government departments are essentially in Microsoft’s pocket and they operate in Microsoft’s favour at the expense of innocent taxpayers. Just ask Dr. Pugh, who is a Member of Parliament here.

Lawmaker blasts U.K. government on Microsoft policy

“A member of Parliament of the United Kingdom has launched a stinging attack on the U.K. government’s IT strategy, saying that it has given Microsoft too much control.

John Pugh, who is a member of Parliament, or MP, for Southport and a member of the Public Accounts Committee, was speaking in an adjournment debate on Tuesday that he had called. The aim of the debate, he said, was to explore the alternatives to using Microsoft software, including open source.”

According to the press, ‘poor BECTA’ suffers from Microsoft, which tries to take over British schools. But… it takes two to tango! BECTA just plays nice due to the European Commission’s new probe, we reckon. The OSC and others are on BECTA’s tail, so BECTA must find a way out of this mess and cover its behind. Here is a quick refresher from the news (multiple sources confirm consistency):

An advisor to Becta, the education technology quango, has complained to the European Commission about its procurement process for firms to provide online learning platforms and content to British schools.

Local Authorities are avoiding the use of Becta’s framework procurement for Learning Platforms, while the European Commission has formally registered Alpha Learning’s complaint that the framework failed to comply with European regulations for public procurement.

Open Source Consortium president, Mark Taylor, has been in contact to voice its opinion on the controversy surrounding Becta’s purchasing frameworks and the adoption of open source adoption in UK schools.

In short, it doesn’t make happy reading for Becta. “The essence of our concern is that they’re saying one thing and actually pursuing policies that are exclusive,” he said. “Becta’s own research shows there are major benefits [with open source], however the reality of the framework is that it excludes both products and services.”

MP Pugh reckons shcools should support independent or open source software firms. He says, “In my experience a school is a key part of the community and as such has a role to play in the economy of that community. By supporting SMEs the local high-technology industry will be encouraged which will benefit everyone.”

Nineteen MPs have accused a government agency of restricting the procurement of software in schools.

The UK Government’s own studies have shown savings of up to 60% can be made by schools and colleges using Open Source software. Despite this clear advantage, some MPs believe the software procurement frameworks from Becta and official advice from DfES effectively locks out the us of free, Open Source software.

Mind the fact that the items above do not cover the same incident. The criticism came from different directions at different stages.

Let’s assume that everyone has already become familiar with the stories cited above. Then, and only then, can one begin to consider the most recent ‘news’, which was reported by the (MS)BBC. The BBC’s report follows recent news about BECTA unleashing a report. The response to this report is not as welcoming as the press wishes to paint it. Those who have watches this problem for over a year and even had BECTA reported to the European Commission tell the full story better:

Here is one interpretation of BECTA’s complaint.

Rather than investing time and energy into helping to promote real alternatives to Redmond’s hold on school IT, Becta is simply using the OFT as a negotiating tool. Like many organisations, Becta seems incapable of thinking outside a Microsoft-defined box.

Here is another.

“Mark Taylor of the Open Source Consortium pressure group said: ‘This is a mini-step in the right direction but what Becta is actually doing is keeping Microsoft in front of the market to the exclusion of alternatives.’ He claimed Becta’s complaint is part of the process of negotiating a new contract for the use of Microsoft technology in schools and will therefore only add to the visibility of Microsoft in the market.”

Someone should truly follow the path taken by Linpro, which is located in Norway.

Schools will no longer be subjected to Windows licensing for Linux or Mac computers. Furthermore, Microsoft has accepted to discontinue their commercial bundling which required schools to buy several Microsoft products to obtain discounts.

Linpro seems to have successfully resolved this issue some months ago, but the damage done over the years translates into a great deal of lock-in that will be hard to leave behind. Still, it’s a decent first step in the right direction. Now it’s BECTA’s turn.

Many other countries (probably most of them) suffer from the same issue and the same tricks are being played. I just don’t happen to watch the procurement process in other countries very closely. Perhaps you should.

The story reflects on the nature of the deal with Novell in various ways:

  1. Capture of authority. Novell is one of the most powerful players that contribute to Linux and open source. Likewise, BECTA instructs virtually all schools in the UK, so controlling a position of command is a strategic priority to Microsoft.
  2. Lock-in strategy. The nature of the deal with BECTA is not only exclusionary, but it also imprisons young minds (students), whose personal data and skills will be tied to one software vendor. In the case of SUSE, ‘interoperability’ limits the ability to dance from one Linux distributor to another. The same goes for support coupons.
  3. Cost strategy. With Novell, licensing agreements mean that no matter if you buy SUSE or Windows, Microsoft will get paid. Similarly, in the UK, whether a school has some PCs running Mac OS and Linux or not, Microsoft will get paid for all the PCs, assuming all are dominated by Microsoft’s operating system and pricey office suite (or fall under Microsoft’s unsubstantiated patent claims).
  4. Secrecy and lack of transparency. BECTA’s last deal with Microsoft was signed just a few of months ago and there was no public disclosure about the deal, even though public money was involved. Remember Novell’s SEC filing? Remember how it was redacted? We also had to wait for 9 months before seeing anything, only to be left with more questions than answers [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. Turning to BECTA again, part of he deal was that it had to remain secret, for competitive reasons (or maybe “antitrust” outcries). This was similar to the tricks Microsoft had used to impose a “chokehold” on OEMs (that’s the word which Conlin used in Iowa when she served heaps of compelling proof).

The exclusionary deals with the OEMs would actually make a good comparison when it comes to the deal with Novell. Will anyone be interested in a detailed analysis involving rotten OEM practices and the way they relate to the exclusionary deals with Novell et al?

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one


  1. SubSonicMan said,

    October 29, 2007 at 5:43 pm


    That is why one of the first outcomes of the EU antitrust case should be forcing the unbundling of OEM PCs and Microsoft Products:


    I see that the covert Microsoft practices hijacking high-IT-expenditure public agencies repeat themselves in every country.
    Take, for example Spain, where the proposed amendments of the Law for Citizen Access to the Public Administrations aiming at the promotion of Free Software were swiftly neutered by the Micrososft lobbies inside the Public Procurement Ministry:


    Or the infamous secret deal with the Chilean government by which Microsoft becomes the exclusive IT provider for software and IT-related-services.
    (And dont miss the photo):

    The news in spanish, you can use babelish to translate it, I think yu get better translation than with google, which you can try as well:

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 29, 2007 at 6:22 pm


    I am aware of the news in Chile (mentioned here before), but the news from Spain is new to me. It’s unsurprising.

    Watch this essay that was published only hours ago:

    A Call To Accountability

    Not only do you have Teachers and Administrators who are protecting Microsoft (isn’t money wonderful?), you have System Administrators and Network Technicians that lock their heels on any movement to change the system to FOSS. Between job security, laziness and politics, Microsoft has fairly well assured itself a solid and substantial place in the United States educational system.


    It’s your money. You’ve paid dearly for our public school system and you have the right to know how many millions the schools are putting into the pockets of Bill Gates. Wouldn’t that money be better used to educate our kids?

    I might as well press ahead and publish something which discusses the exclusionary deals with the OEMs also. Essentially, the same tricks are being played with Linux vendors, education ministries (or “governments”, to generalise a bit), and OEMs.

What Else is New

  1. Benoît Battistelli's Office Accused of Institutional Harassment Against EPO Staff in New Letter to the Administrative Council, Calling for External Investigation

    A probe by an external and independent entity is sought with the aim of looking into systematic harassment against EPO employees who simply 'dare' to point out gross violations by their managers; staff protests at EPO headquarters in the Netherlands and Germany are scheduled

  2. Responses to Software Patents in India Though Guidelines for Examination of Computer Related Inventions

    India's famous skills, which revolve around software services and software development, are under attack by new laws which strive to grant foreign corporations de facto monopolies on software, even inside India

  3. Mobile Linux (e.g. Android) Still a Victim of Software Patents, No Peace in Sight

    A look at recent developments in the fight against mobile Linux (notably Android these days) and whoever is behind the patent attacks (not always as obvious as people are led to believe)

  4. Bad News for the EPO's Judicial Independence and Due Process in Next Week's Administrative Council (AC) Meeting

    A quick update about what's expected to happen next week when the Administrative Council holds a two-day meeting

  5. More Back Doors Found in Microsoft's Entrapments (Proprietary Software)

    Security flaws and even blatantly obvious loopholes for surveillance are identified in several of Microsoft's so-called 'products', which turn users (and their data) into the real product (to be sold to private companies or shared with spies)

  6. NASA Gives Back What It Took Away in the Form of Patent Monopolies for Private Gain

    Criticism of NASA's habit of clinging onto patents when it is actually the public which pays for everything

  7. The Coup D'état of Benoît Battistelli Follows an Imperialist Model, Threatens Opposition and Dissent

    SUEPO, the staff union, and boards that are independent from the EPO are both under attack and are constantly threatened by Benoît Battistelli and his goons

  8. Links 8/10/2015: Manjaro Linux Releases, Linksys WRT1900ACS, FOSS at NHS

    Links for the day

  9. Links 8/10/2015: KDE Plasma 5.4.2 Released, Linux Drama Queens

    Links for the day

  10. EPO Staff to Disrupt Administrative Council Meeting With Public Demonstration That Raises Awareness of Abuses

    The perception of collusion between the Administrative Council (AC) and the European Patent Office (EPO) leads to staff actions demanding investigation of illegal Board of Appeal (BoA) suspension/s (among many other things)

  11. OIN Turns 10, IDG Floods the Web With Puff Pieces That 'Normalise' Software Patents

    The Open Invention Network (OIN) commissions or helps produce puff pieces in the corporate media because it has an anniversary and corporate interests to push forth (including the idea that software patents can coexist with Linux)

  12. Hypocrite Forks the Linux Kernel Because of Cultural Characteristics That He Himself is Guilty of

    Forking of Linux is misleadingly reported in the media because of a couple of very loud people, who are not even quitting their jobs

  13. Željko Topić Attacks EPO Staff for 'Daring' to Legally Challenge the EPO's Management Over Its Gross Abuses in Europe

    Benoît Battistelli's right-hand man, Željko Topić, is under the false impression that yet more threats against staff of the EPO will help contain the crisis rather than further inflame it

  14. Media Reports Based on New Patents Suggest That Microsoft Continues to Attack Google and Android/Linux, Trying to Tax and Delete Android

    Reports and patent applications serve to show that Microsoft not only tries to infiltrate ("embrace") Android to put its apps there ("extend") but ultimately to delete ("extinguish") Android

  15. Commenters Provide Possible Explanations for Mr Van der Eijk Being on Unlimited Sick Leave

    Rumours are swirling around Wim Van der Eijk's absence, suggesting that he too may be a victim of Benoît Battistelli's iron fist

  16. Links 6/10/2015: Linux 4.3 RC4, HP OpenSwitch, Wind River Linux 8

    Links for the day

  17. With Software Patents in Europe (and Pushes for the Same Thing in Australia and India) Patent Trolls Now Come to Europe, Attack Android/Linux

    Worst-case scenarios are becoming a reality as Android backers officially attacked by patent trolls using standard-essential patents in London, England

  18. New Information on Limbo in the Enlarged Board, Courtesy of Illegal Actions by the EPO's Benoît Battistelli

    Battistelli's bullying of people whom he is not even allowed to bully turns out to have gone on for a lot longer than promised, and there is no sign of light at the end of this tunnel

  19. Microsoft Customers Complain About 'Inevitable' Vista 10 Because Microsoft Nearly Forces Botched 'Upgrades'

    In a desperate effort to spread Vista 10, sometimes even against people's will, Microsoft really upsets loyal customers, who are eventually eager to explore alternatives

  20. Dr. Ingve Björn Stjerna Explains Why the UPC (“Unitary Patent“ System) is an Undemocratic Sham Whilst UPC Silently Advanced by Patent Lawyers and Politicians

    European patent laws are being covertly overridden so as to allow broader scope of litigation, higher financial damages, speedy injunctions, and even software patents; the European public is intentionally kept in the dark about it, hence kept unable to express scepticism or issue truly effective objections

  21. IRC Proceedings: September 13th, 2015 – October 3rd, 2015

    Many IRC logs

  22. Article Explains Why SUEPO Went Silent Well Over a Week Ago: Nobody is Allowed to Talk to Journalists Without Permission From Battistelli

    More threats from Benoît Battistelli (threats of termination and legal actions on top of it) help hide the abuses of Battistelli and his fellow thugs at the EPO

  23. A Linux World: After Billions of Dollars in Losses Microsoft Changes How It Reports Financial Results

    The abusive monopolist is trying very hard to hide its growing difficulties, especially in an effort to bamboozle non-technical shareholders who cannot understand how Linux has essentially taken over

  24. Microsoft Continues to Extort Linux and Android OEMs Using Software Patents, This Time ASUS (Forced to Pre-Install Microsoft Spyware With OOXML)

    A roundup of news illustrating that Microsoft is still very much in a total war against Android, (mis)using federal regulators and even software patents to get its way

  25. Links 4/10/2015: Linux 4.2.3 , 4.1.10; MPlayer 1.2 released

    Links for the day

  26. Links 2/10/2015: Qubes 3.0, Linux.Wifatch

    Links for the day

  27. Microsoft-Connected Firm Net Applications Used to Mislead About Vista 10 Share and Mock GNU/Linux

    People who are connected to Microsoft (some being former staff) link to a firm that is connected to Microsoft in order to create the illusion that Vista 10 market share grew to 6.63%

  28. Chairman of the Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBoA) and EPO Vice-President of DG3 Suspiciously on Unlimited Sick Leave After Benoît Battistelli's Unprecedented Attacks on Other EBoA Staff

    Rumours suggest that Benoît Battistelli's affairs at the EPO may have something to do with Wim Van der Eijk's longterm absence

  29. Microsoft's Secret Special Relationship With EPO Illustrates Serious Corruption at Microsoft and the EPO

    A big story about the EPO and Microsoft working in a sort of collusion-type setup so as to serve Microsoft's patent agenda, which involves aggression, even against European software that is Free (as in freedom)

  30. Links 1/10/2015: LFS 7.8, Calculate Linux 15 Released

    Links for the day


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time


Recent Posts