With all the razzmatazz surrounding the worldwide launch of Windows 7 it would be easy to miss out on the implications for schools. But Microsoft UK has been busy working with early adopters in schools and has issued a new white paper, "UK Schools - Windows 7 Early Adopters", by education journalist Gerald Haigh (download here).
While ease of use may be the most obvious improvement, those with an eye on sustainability will not fail to miss the startling feedback from Twynham School in Christchurch, Dorset, which is anticipating annual energy savings of £22,000. “Enough to pay for a newly qualified teacher,” says assistant headteacher Mike Herrity.
Gerald Haigh visited six schools - West Hatch High School, Essex, Lodge Park Technology College, Northamptonshire, The Long Eaton School, Nottingham, The Samworth Enterprise Academy, Leicester, Twynham School, Dorset, Broadclyst Primary School, Devon - for his report, which is also available from Microsoft's UK schools blog, along with more helpful insights from Ray Fleming (video too).
Windows 7 has been available to schools and education suppliers ahead of its official launch which has been advantageous in getting hard-nosed feedback away from the seductive advertising and PR. On a personal level, using Windows 7 on a loan RM miniPC (review soon) has been a revelation. For a regular Apple user, the difference in platforms is becoming more academic.
Where Windows Vista provided an experience full of interruptions that could only be totally dispensed with by turning off the security, Windows 7 is far more intuitive and straightforward. If Vista was a person, you would not take it for a drink because you would never get one: Are you sure you want a drink? Do you know where it has come from? Have you seen the brewer's certificate? Goodbye Vista and good riddance. Windows 7 is a far better companion. And Microsoft is now taking responsibility for the virus issue that comes with PC ownership.
Four weeks use of Windows 7 on RM's dinky new miniPC has yet to reveal a downside. In fact there's absolutely nothing for a Mac user, sadly underwhelmed by Apple's Snow Leopard, to sneer about.
School users of Windows would do well to read Gerald Haigh's white paper as it's genuine school feedback rather than a marketing publication. There is plenty to learn to make sure that the transition goes as smoothly as possible. In fact it looks as though the experience may well prise the author away from his Apple iBook to the additional charms of an Asus netbook with Windows 7.