Government ICT agency Becta appears to be moving towards burying the hatchet to end its two-year stand-off with US software giant Microsoft. It started when Becta discouraged schools from adopting the Vista operating system and the Office 2007 productivity package, and complained to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) about alleged interoperability of document files and unfair school licensing agreements.

Hugh John gets creative with Painter Essentials 4 and ArtRage Plus

Jerry Stinson, PainterDaunted by the price of high-end graphics tools? Don’t despair, there are still some inexpensive programs available and the good news is that their price bears little comparison to their performance (Painter artwork by Jerry Stinson, left and below). Two of the most impressive ‘natural media’ programs are ArtRage Plus and Painter Essentials 4 (From Corel, at BETT 2009), both of which can be bought for less than £50 (you can download a free version of ArtRage).

Google has made another significant inroad into UK education. The University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) has adopted Google Apps for Education for all of its email, messaging, calendar and collaborative document needs. It says it is the first UK university to take the step although it is understood that Leeds Metropolitan University is also well on the way.