My School Thinks Windows and Microsoft are the Future

A new school year has started. That means new classes, new teachers and new friends. That also means, new computers. Unfortunately, that doesn't always mean that they will be Mac's. Specifically my school is heading towards the dark side at full speed. They want to eventually, have every machine at school running Windows 2000. Now this alone may or may not be a good idea, depends on your situation. Although it mostly has to do with those who are in charge that pick what you get.

I have seen numerous teachers struggle from the transition from trust their Mac desktop, to a slow, unstable and unforgiving Windows laptop. Pretty much every teacher at school has (in some form) a windows laptop. Also, recently on Tuesday we got a shipment of 56 Dell desktop machines, one for each classroom. All the desktops come with Windows 2000.

Now if you recall the fiasco The Race to the Finish Line where we had a bunch of improper laptops, which we had to give out to the teachers pretty much on the spot. I feel that going to Windows isn't a good choice for a school to make. Here is what I have found to be major contributing factor's (and examples) for the district on deciding to pick PC's.

  1. The people in charge ONLY believe the hype. For example, they plan on replacing all of the phones in the school to voice over IP, which cost over 500 dollars per PHONE. At least the model they picked anyway. This is of course, ignoring the cost for back-end equipment required to run it (special switches and TONS of power).
  2. EVERYTHING they do is by the lowest bidder. The equipment they purchase, are all (of course) last years model when they pick them (so they are cheaper at the start). Then they generally hold the equipment for a year or so before they hand them out. A perfect example is from (rush to the finish line). Another is our school itself. It has been under construction, and they "finished" it the Friday before school started (on Monday). Many things don't even work, like there are no phones, no clocks, bells don't work in half of the rooms and no fire alarms. The things that DO work, are only half way. For example, the rooms share ONE thermostat for each floor. This then makes the rooms ice cold in the morning, they then complain, shut it off and then it's baking in the afternoon. As a side note, with the no fire-alarms, the fire martial wasn't happy, so the school is employing a "guard" that sits there 24/7 for 17 dollars an hour. Just in case a fire happens.
  3. For the most part, all of the tech people ONLY know Windows. They can do basic Mac stuff, but that's about it. When it gets to something they don't know, they pretty much just replace it with a PC. Of course, they don't know that much about Windows to begin with. A good example is that the e-mail accounts are running on a FreeBSD machine at the district office. No one really know how it works (well I do), and to do a simple thing like resetting a users password requires a call to the big guy in charge. They PLAN on having the entire mail system running from exchange (Which in itself a bad idea... don't get me started) on a Windows 2000 cluster. Now, they have been at it for over 6 months and it still doesn't work. To think this is the "easy" way to cluster. For sure it's going to be more painful to set-up an exchange server, import all of the old accounts, hopefully their e-mail as well, then configure all of the machines to use it. While otherwise, the current FreeBSD server has been merrily going along for years.

It is pretty much too late to turn back to a Multi platform environment now, because a number of large key purchases have already been made. Maybe a change of heart will come in the future? Only time will tell.