I do IT for a special ed school district and we just finally finished getting all our machines to xp. 7 is around the corner and most of the machines we use are snail slow running xp. A few of the schools, though they have computers, still do everything off line… the machines are so crappy they cant even be productive. Its me and my supervisor doing all the support in a district of 600+ employees with 15 different locations in the southern Chicago area. Most smaller businesses and schools outsource to consulting companies who charge them assloads of money to reconnect a rogue pc to its printer. Its pretty messed up. A lot of the poorer and less fortunate schools would better educate our youths if they just got better equipment. I think the government needs to give grants for technology in schools regardless of the surrounding community’s wealth. The richer areas around here have these awesome programs that get kids going and learning what they want to develop into their careers. at my high school they did not offer any tech classes because the readily equipment available could not keep up with industry standard and i had to teach myself everything i know today. I think every school should have relatively up to date systems and have a knowledgeable IT team that in their spare time can run and teach awesome tech programs and really educate students on new up and coming stuff. but we do not live in a perfect world do we!?
You may want to consider Linux. Linux makes old computers fast again. Schools are flocking to linux and dumping MSWindows around the world. I can list hundreds of school districts even in the US who are converting. I won’t bore you with the details, unless you want me to. At least start a pilot project on just one machine. We use the Linux Terminal Server Project software (see k12ltsp.org). It has saved our small school thousands of dollars in licensing fees alone that can go for other needs. We also have been able to thwart the cost of new machines by taking existing systems and thin clients then converting them to diskless clients. (No more sneaker-net replacing and reimageing hard drives!!) I have not had to purchase a new machine for myself in five years. I will put linux up against any new MSWindows box in speed for most things that people do. I even have an old pentium 1 laptop that still works great with the help of linux. There are quite a few live gui easy to use cd’s to test linux without installing it. There is even a live dvd to test LTSP without installing it. Here are the links for the iso’s.
I have not tried this particular disk as it just came out, but plan to do so this week. There is even an alternative to most of the high priced software required for use in a Apple or Microsoft world at:
Save our tax dollars!