Microsoft might not be unduly worried about Vinothan Shankar's e-petition to Downing Street to dump Windows as the dominant operating system for PCs in UK schools and replace it with a free open-source alternative. But it could prove an interesting lithmus test to see whether open source is gaining a foothold in schools following the success of Moodle as a VLE and the popularity of the Asus EeePC Linux netbook.

The petition has so far been signed by 163 people but there is still plenty of time - the final deadline is August 6. It warns: "The only BECTA recommended operating system for schools is Microsoft Windows, but there are several reasons why this is not the best choice for use in an educational environment.

Short-throw projectorShort-throw table projectorICT is rarely just ICT, just as furniture and furnishing don't make 100 per cent sense on their own. For schools, these elements come together in what have become known in new-build and BSF circles as "settings" - if not actual classrooms. And believe it or not, settings have more effect on student performance than the actual buildings - the shells - students are schooled in.

That's why there was so much interest at BETT 2009 in the "learning spaces" section of ICT services supplier RM's suite in the Oympia 2 building next door to the main exhibition. For the very first time teachers, school leaders and advisers could play around with the elements of "settings" and model learning spaces for themselves.

BETT 2009 logoBETT 2009 saw an all-time record number of visitors from the UK and abroad - 30,008, a 4 per cent increase on 2008. “For BETT to attract such a huge number of visitors in a year of economic uncertainty really does prove that the sector is supported by suppliers who provide rich and innovative resources, and that educators really care about the future of learning and teaching both here and overseas,” said exhibition director Richard Joslin.

Open Source Schools screenOpen source software has big implications for UK education but its non-commercial nature puts it at a disadvantage in the schools "market". The OS virtual learning environment Moodle, for example, is not the subject of a government pilot or study, even though it is popular and motivational among teachers and learners. And until the invasion of "netbooks', with the Asus EeePC (RM Asus miniBook) in the frontline, most teachers and learners had not seen an OS desktop (now the most popular choice of Asus EeePC).

So it's important that Leon Cych and BBC Backstage's Hannah Wise filmed the OS seminars at the BETT 2009 technology show at Olympia, London, on January 19. Now you can view online video presentations by Becta award-winner Miles Berry (introduction and Moodle), Michelle Walters (Open Office and the Open Source Schools website), Jose PIcardo (working with audio and Audacity) and Doug Belshaw (netbooks and Linux).