By Gerald Haigh
You may already have seen Ray Fleming's early announcement about the forthcoming (March 1, 2011) changes in Microsoft's school licensing structure. If you are a Microsoft education customer and haven't read it yet, do so right now. And study it carefully because, for many schools, it's going to mean a significant cost saving at a critical time.
The reason for the reduction will come from the fact that it's staff who'll be licensed, not computers. And there's little doubt that in virtually all secondaries, and probably most primaries, there are many more computers than staff. (That's full-time equivalent staff, in contact with students - so the assumption is that it will include teaching assistants and technicians for example, but not maintenance and catering.)
I've had a chat with Alan Richards, network manager at West Hatch School in Essex about this. He currently licenses about 500 machines at a cost of £17,000. Instead he'll be licensing an absolute maximum of 150 full-time equivalent staff.
Now there's no assumption that the cost per person will be the same as the current cost per computer, but Microsoft is, after all, keen to get across the message that licensing will be "significantly cheaper for most schools in the UK". So Alan speculates - and it's sensible speculation - that his £17,000 licensing bill could well be coming down to the region of £10,000 and maybe less.
Many of you will be in schools where the numbers are similar, and in any case you can do the calculations. So what's the bottom line?
If you pay MS licences of any kind, then read the message from Ray Fleming, Microsoft's UK education marketing manager, carefully, especially the bit that tells you what to do right now to maximise that saving next year.
And just to be sure, turn up at BETT 2011 and talk to people on the MS Stand about your particular circumstances.
BETT 2011, January 12-15
Microsoft: stand D30