Microsoft's Education License: All PCs & Macs Must Pay. Red Hat Offers Free Linux & Services

We first commented on Microsoftis recent attempt to extract unearned money from school systems two weeks ago, but the folks at The Register UK have delved deep into Microsoftis actual licensing terms to see what they could find. In a piece titled "Compulsory Windows: for Macs, and people without PCs?," the publication offers some specifics on how Microsoft is trying to collect money on each computer in a school, whether or not it is running Microsoft software, even if it is a Mac.

Microsoft has come up with another novel way to make its software compulsory - an annual subscription licensing system for schools where you have to pay for all of the computers youire using, even if you donit want them to run the Microsoft software youire licensing. This includes Macs, and although the Ts & Cs of the agreement donit make it entirely clear what youire supposed to do with the Windows upgrades you end up buying for these machines, we bet putting them on eBay isnit a recommended option.

The article offers terrific detail on this, as well as Microsoftis Campus Agreement, which seeks to get colleges to pay for software by the person, further divorcing themselves from any real need to offer compelling products. We recommend the piece as a very good read.

In contrast, Red Hat, Inc. has rolled out its own education initiative called the "K-12 Red Hat Linux Pilot Program" that seems almost tailor made to combat Redmondis steamroller efforts. Red Hat is a commercial vendor of Linux solutions, and the company is offering free software and services to schools to replace Windows with Linux. From a press release from the company:

Red Hat, Inc. today announced its K-12 Red Hat Linux Pilot Program, designed to extend the availability of the Internet and computing technology to all schools, regardless of size or budget, improving the overall learning experience for all students. As part of its open schools initiative, Red Hat will assess the computing needs of participating schools, install open-source software and applications, and provide technical support. Seven North Carolina counties have already joined Red Hatis program -- Chatham, Clay, Durham, Lee, Orange, Scotland and Tyrrell.

Schools participating in the initiative will be provided with Red Hat software and services at no cost. Red Hat will assess the current and future computing needs of each school and then install the appropriate open source software and programs. Each school is providing its own hardware, and has agreed to meet the minimum requirements set by Red Hat.

"We replaced our proprietary servers with Linux and our school district now uses open-source software to run our firewall, mail, internet site, intranet sites, WAN administration and monitoring, file and print services, and student information systems," said Michael Williams, Network Technology Director of Haywood County Schools. "With the money we saved from not buying proprietary licenses, the school district purchased additional resources that directly effected the learning experience of our students and brought us into the 21st century."

You can read the full text of Red Hatis press release at the companyis Web site.