The Open University has promised to become more Mac and Linux friendly, reflecting the needs of its students.

The UK's distance learning college declared its intent in an email sent to students on 14 March. It will abandon its Microsoft only policy following protests by alumni and the circulation of a petition demanding support for non-Microsoft systems.

The Open University says: “The Open University is committed to supporting Mac users and also users of other platforms such as Linux in all future activity."

The Open University has recently introduced a purpose designed Virtual Learning Environment which makes material available to students via the internet and can be accessed by Mac or PC.

The University's FirstClass conferencing system can be accessed by Macs and assignments can be submitted electronically by Mac users using rich text files (rtf) or open office software available for free download.