Please note that Bishops operates in a Windows environment and all boys are required to work in the Windows environment. Please also note that even if you purchase one of the Apple prescribed machines, your son is still required to ONLY work in the Windows environment at school.

Why Windows OS?

The current Windows solution is working extremely well.

Increasingly it is possible to work seamlessly off virtually any operating system but at this stage the school is also using Windows-only site licensed software not offered in the Apple environment.

At this stage Apple is a more expensive option, even with the educational discount offered.

From a teaching perspective it is better for teachers to use exactly the same software as the boys. The teachers currently use well-supported and less expensive Dell machines.

For these reasons the school and many parents choose not to buy Apple at this stage.

The school annually reviews this position.

What about software for Apple machines?

Regardless of hardware platform each pupil is required to have a Windows partition installed so that they run ONLY on the Windows platform at school. In certain instances, parents may wish to allow their sons to run Parallels so that they can work across both Windows and Mac platforms. However, there is an extra cost to this and parents must be aware that the configuration of the machine that they purchase is such that it can support the Parallels environment effectively.

Apple Mac

Some students are very keen to have Apple Macs.

While Bishops operates predominantly in the Windows Networking Environment, there are Apple Macs in the Sound Lab for video and sound editing purposes and these machines run both Windows and OSX (Apple Operating System). Some of the music, art and design students might prefer Apple Macs as this affords an opportunity to run both the Windows software and the specialist music/art software. It is in no way essential that music students buy a Mac as the SoundHouse Lab is available to the boys. However, boys who do buy Apple Macs are also required to run only Windows in the classroom. There is an additional cost for this Windows license which is included in the Digicape offer.

Digicape are the preferred Apple supplier. Digicape have negotiated prices for Bishops which include an extended four year Digicape local warranty, making it a five year warranty in total. Digicape also keep certain spares to facilitate better support for Bishops and offer a comprehensive back-up solution, which includes access to loan units for the duration of the repair. The pupil will get a Bishops loan unit immediately and if the Apple machine is not able to be collected within the three day business period, Digicape will offer their own loan unit for the pupil to use, at no cost, until his machine is returned. Turnaround times will be slower that with a Dell machine because Dell allows onsite repair. In effect only software support is offered on site at Bishops. Other support is a carry in arrangment, but that turnaround is prioritised for Bishops. Please carefully read the terms and conditions of the Digicape support agreement.

Should you choose to purchase an Apple Mac for your son, please be aware that this does not exclude you from the once-off support charge or the Annual Microsoft License fee.

Netbooks, tablets and i-pads

Netbooks, tablets and i-pads are exciting technological innovations, each with its own particular set of strengths. Screen size, software applications, proper keyboard, built-in DVD drive, proper battery life, hard-drive capacity ... All these need to be considered, and any sacrifice in one area has to be balanced by a real advantage in another. More recently Windows 8 tablets are gaining in popularity.

iPads, in particular, have become popular and a number of schools are beginning to use these. They are popular because of a number of features such as weight, size and the ability to store and read e-books. The general feeling is that iPads are fabulous for young children because of the tactile aspect and the multitude of inexpensive applications geared for younger children. iPads are great for consuming information (reading emails, browsing the Internet and other research). They are less useful when creating content; word processing; generating presentation and working with spreadsheets. There are numerous very useful apps with great educational value, but generally we find that senior school pupils find it problematic to work solely on iPads. The nature of their work demands more sophisticated software and processing power than available at this stage on the iPad. At this stage, the majority of applications available for certain tablets are unable to replace the full suite of applications available on a PC or laptop or tablet running Windows 8. The iPad is an extremely useful but additional device. Over the next few years, tablets are expected have their greatest impact so they are certainly a technology to trial and to keep an eye on.

There has been a noticeable shift in the way software is distributed in the tablet world. With a Mac or PC you can purchase software offline and install it yourself, or perhaps download software after purchasing it online. Software companies usually cater to the majority of computer users by offering their product in versions that are compatible with the various operating systems. Educational software is thus often available in networkable and easily configurable formats. The iPad model offers a wealth of mobile apps downloadable from the app store. Each user has to open an account in order to shop online at the app store. Users then choose their applications, pay for them and download them. Software is synced through the PC software or downloaded directly on the tablet via wifi or 3G. Apple at this stage probably has the biggest selection but there is increasing competition from their competitors. Because Operating systems (OS) are changing at a rapid pace, software developers are struggling to keep up. Frequent OS updates mean frequent app updates, which is problematic for users and difficult for a school to manage.

The College has thus decided, at this stage, to continue engaging with laptops and only certain tablets as the preferred one-to-one technology choice, but we are certainly keeping other tablet developments in our sights!