Windows

Windows XP comes to the OLPC

After years of dispute and half-hearted discussions, the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) organization have come full circle and will be putting Microsoft's Windows operating system onto its XO laptop. Limited trials will begin next month, with a general release expected as early as September this year.

After years of dispute and half-hearted discussions, the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) organization have come full circle and will be putting Microsoft's Windows operating system onto its XO laptop. Limited trials will begin next month, with a general release expected as early as September this year.

Founder of OLPC, Nicholas Negroponte said: "The people who buy the machines are not the children who use them, but government officials in most cases. And those people are much more comfortable with Windows."

It should be noted that Microsoft was originally antagonistic to the idea of Windows XP running on a laptop championing its rival - the XO laptop was originally designed to run the open-sourced Linux operating system.

Excerpt from the New York Times:

Last year, Mr. Negroponte said, he contacted Mr. Gates again, and this time the Microsoft chairman was receptive. He instructed Craig Mundie, Microsoft’s chief research and strategy officer, to work out a deal with Mr. Negroponte. Those talks began in January in private meetings, when both men were attending the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Microsoft apparently also experienced a change of heart:

“Customers have come to us and said they really like the XO laptop and they would like to see Windows on it,” said James Utzschneider, manager of Microsoft’s developing markets unit.

The Linux version of the XO laptop will still be available. On the OLPC's end, they are now calling for external software developers to create a version of Sugar - the education software running on the XO, for Windows.

It is clear that Mr. Negroponte is driven more by practicalities than dogmatism to a particular concept or operating system. Would you consider him a visionary, or do you see him as missing the picture entirely?

About

Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.

11 comments
helpdesk9999
helpdesk9999

For the current owners of the XO laptop will there be an option to go to Windows XP? Where can one get more information? XO owner

stevek504
stevek504

Everything I read about the issue says that OLPC doesn't know yet how it will make Windows XP available to current owners (both in the USA and overseas). In any case, it will be a while and new production will get it first. I would like to see the Give One Get One program back again. I sure would like to play with one.

normhaga
normhaga

I think the point is being missed. If the point were to deliver low cost PC's to the end user and MS charges $32 per copy of XP Home, which is what will be put on the OLPC's, then that is $32 over the cost of Linux.

paulmah
paulmah

I suppose what muddles the waters here is that Microsoft will be charging only $3 per device. While still represents "$3 more" than the free, it can be argued that a more popular Windows-based device can easily recoup that amount -- and more, by virtue of higher production volumes. With price nearly equalized, the question has been shifted into one of: Is there any compelling reasons not to use Windows XP. Regards, Paul Mah.

techrepublic@
techrepublic@

Reasons against: - requires more storage space for system, less space for user files; - requires more computational power, slower user experience; - weak security, using anti malware software will waste even more resources, require regular internet access and generally will cause lots of maintenance problems; - no mesh network (yet); - some power save modes not supported (yet); - closed source system, children will not be able to see how the system works. You may think that this is of little value but how many of today's programmers started on little machines like these typing away code just to see what it did and then hacking it? Reasons for: - higher production volumes can actually reduce the price even if it is already very close to the $100 US (taking in to account the devaluation of the US dollar since the target value was announced); - more choice; - can be changed to Linux after they realize the mistake. :)

karen
karen

This is so sad to see. I've always been excited about this project, particularly last winter when I read several reviews of the laptops and the impact they were having on the children using them, particularly the fact that they were actually learning from them rather than just using them as a toy. If I'd had it in my budget, I would have happily participated in the buy one/give one deal they had going. I think the idea of moving from an open source platform to XP goes against the entire spirit of the OLPC project. This is a project about bringing computers to those who otherwise would not have access to them due to economic circumstances. What about that fits with Microsoft's business model? Open source is all about freedom from proprietary software, including file types. One of the things that struck me most about reading about the experiences of the children around the world using the OLPC computers was how this brought in their parents, showing them the possibilities that computer use could bring to them. Apparently Microsoft has read that as well and is looking to turn these learners into future consumers. Instead of championing both opening up access to technology to the masses as well as open source software for the masses, it seems OLPC is lowering itself to become yet another hook that creates markets, training children to become future consumers of products rather than giving them the knowledge and the tools to build their own future and their own software. Sad...very sad, Mr. Negroponte...looks like you sold out.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I've been a pretty loud supporter for the OLPC project so when that which I've been shooing my mouth off over goes squirly, I feel some responsability to make mention of that also. For those who are interested, here is an article and discussion from earlier in the week on the abismal management that seems to be going on at the OLPC http://www.osnews.com/story/19743/OLPC_Could_Be_the_IBM_Global_Services_of_Laptop_Programs In short, the chief security guy for OLPC has left the project and finaly been convinced explaining why he left is worth doing. He originally felt it should be between him and OLPC but explains his own chage of heart. This explains some of the mixed information and WTF questions that seem to be apearign as OLPC flounders deciding on what it's goals and direction actuall are. There's a sprawling discussion about WinXP on OLPC there already though I'm sure the one here is likely to be as lively.

paulmah
paulmah

It is clear that Mr. Negroponte is driven more by practicalities than dogmatism to a particular concept or operating system. Would you consider him a visionary, or do you see him as missing the picture entirely?

techrepublic@
techrepublic@

I think Linux is the best OS for XO hardware but if Microsoft can provide a WinXP version and if Apple can provide a Mac OS X (they offered at no cost) that can run acceptably on it then XO gains from the extra choice. That said, WinXP is a far inferior OS than Linux on XO. It requires more disk space, more memory, lower performance, closed OS, does not support mesh network or XO power management, pathetic security (anti malware tools will kill performance), more expensive (even if only $3 more) and is in it's end of life. Technically, WinXP is a bad choice but if it can make XO sell a few million it will make each unit cheaper, including those for Linux. Also WinXP can be easily replaced by Linux so those that have one with WinXP aren't locked to it and can correct the WinXP mistake.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

With staff leaving OLPC like ice off the tale of a commet and the rather damning recently publicized internall details, things are not looking as optimistic as they did. I do hope it's just temporary growing pains because the hardware is still very innovative and well adapted to use as a learning tool. I think providing a traditionally closed and very end user hostile software platform is counter too the overall program goals but does not cancel them out in and of itself.

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