Free office software for schools


18 May 2005

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The National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE) has signed a master distribution agreement with Sun Microsystems to give more than 4,000 Irish schools access to Sun’s StarOffice7 software.

A total of more than 3,200 primary schools and 720 secondary schools, comprising over 50,000 teachers and 783,000 students will be able use the word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing and database capabilities of the software package.

The new licensing arrangement will allow schools that wish to use the Sun software to obtain a free master copy of the software, which can be duplicated as required, by each school. This provision is covered under the terms of the licensing agreement.

Welcoming the initiative, Jerome Morrissey, director of the NCTE, commented, “The availability of StarOffice for our schools, teachers and students provides access to a professional-standard office productivity suite at no cost to the school. It is particularly noteworthy that the licence agreed allows for home and school use of the software by pupils and teachers.”

The NCTE will facilitate the distribution of StarOffice7 to any Irish primary and secondary school through the ICT Advisory service located in each of the Regional Education Centres. Schools can choose which office software to use, however the new Sun licence will provide a simple mechanism for those schools choosing to use StarOffice7 software.

Schools will be able to take full advantage of the software quickly and without a need for intensive training. Full information on obtaining the software will be provided by the ICT advisory service during information evenings hosted by the education centres.

Mike Ryan, education sector manager of Sun Microsystems Ireland, commented: “StarOffice offers students and teachers access to professional standard tools and technologies, ultimately better preparing them for their working lives in terms of skills and familiarity with office technologies. With the potential cost savings that StarOffice brings, schools in Ireland can spend their IT budgets in the most cost-effective way, helping them get the best value for money from their technology investments.”

Sun’s free StarOffice education-based licensing offer is a global programme and so far 24 countries have taken advantage of it. The agreement in this country takes Sun’s total StarOffice software donations worldwide to an estimated value of more than US$7bn.

Unlike OpenOffice.org, StarOffice 7 is not an open source productivity suite. What it is is an open standards-based solution, compatible with Microsoft office file formats. It can run on Solaris, Linux and Windows x86 operating systems.

By Brian Skelly