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IT Education Body BECTA to appeal to EU about Microsoft Interoperability issue

The British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (BECTA) is going forward with plans to appeal to the European Commission over the interoperability of Microsoft Products that are commonly used in the UK Education sector.

Microsoft has been very active in the interoperability sector; back in March, it launched a Document Interoperability Initiative whose aim was to promote user choice among document formats and expand opportunity for developers, partners and competitors.

BECTA has been pursuing two separate complaints, one regarding the way Microsoft licenses its products to schools and the other with regards to compatibility problems that have been plaguing Office 2007, especially when it comes to backward compatibility with Microsoft's own Office 2003 and Microsoft Works.

The complaint comes on the back of a $2.63 billion fine that the European Commission imposed on it earlier in February over the way WIndows interacts with competing programs.

Microsoft is one of the largest software suppliers to schools in United Kingdom and any decision taken by the European Commission could have long term effects on its collaboration with the educational sector.

The controversy comes at a time where cash-strapped educational organisations are increasingly considering moving to Open Source and other free alternatives to Microsoft products in a bid to save cash.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.