Magazine article District Administration

Is Microsoft's Settlement Plan Good for Schools? (News Connection: Up-to-Date and Usable Education Information from Schools, Government, Business, Research and Professional Organizations)

Magazine article District Administration

Is Microsoft's Settlement Plan Good for Schools? (News Connection: Up-to-Date and Usable Education Information from Schools, Government, Business, Research and Professional Organizations)

Article excerpt

After coming under fire for its proposed settlement plan--released in November--that would give $1 billion in technology and cash to the nation's poorest schools, Microsoft sought to calm critics with a mid-December alternation.

Under the new proposal, which was still before a judge at press time, Microsoft would grant schools more power to select the technology they would use. The company was also inviting two outside software makers to join the foundation that will dispense the money and technology.

Microsoft's original plan came under attack almost immediately. On Nov. 26, the day before U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz was to begin hearing arguments on whether to accept or reject Microsoft's proposed settlement, the Computer and Communications Industry Association issued a critical letter to the court. "The settlement before you would inflict great harm upon the technology markets," writes Edward Black, the association's president and CEO. The proposed settlement would do nothing to deter further anti-competitive conduct, he adds. CCIA members include Sun, AOL, Quest, Verizon and Yahoo. Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs issued a statement saying the proposed settlement would allow Microsoft to "make inroads into education, one of the few markets left where they don't have monopoly power." He adds that Apple has 50 percent of the education market share.

Still, Microsoft was praised by several school superintendents. "I've been fighting the digital divide for the last 10 years. It has always been two steps forward and two steps back. This new program is a phenomenal gift to all economically challenged children and families in America. It gives us a quantum leap forward in achieving technological equity," says Anthony Amato, school superintendent in Hartford, Conn.

Microsoft's proposed plan would provide $1 billion for training, support, hardware and software to as many as 12,500 schools, says CEO Steve Ballmer. …

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