Until a few years ago, Microsoft's dominance on world and Israeli desktops was absolute. And anyone who turns on a computer in an Israeli school will also encounter Windows.
Until now the Education Ministry has not widely adopted the software of Open Office (www.openoffice.org.il), the competitor of Microsoft Office, of which Sun is one of the biggest supporters. Herein could lie the great advantage of the agreement with Sun: For the first time Microsoft will face competition on the desktop of the Israeli schoolchild.
Elsewhere, too, Microsoft's hegemony is encountering increased competition. This month, for example, Holland announced that all government offices and authorities in the country will switch to open source programs by next April.
One of the advantages of adopting open source software is the possibility to download programs free. But there is more to it than that, open source activists explain. The agreement between the education system and Microsoft may guarantee inexpensive software for schools, but the pupils' parents have to fork out a lot of money to buy the programs. Whereas open source software programs promise both additions to software and the help of independent software developers.
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