As reported by Gizmodo, Microsoft and OLPC just announced the first official pilot of XO laptops running Microsoft Windows.
I am Lionel Laské, President and co-founder of OLPC France and to be honest it's not really a surprise. We hear from months that the agreement between OLPC and Microsoft will be a good way to win new country deployment. Remind you the Negroponte talk about Egypt:
"When I went to Egypt for the first time, I met separately with the minister of communications, minister of education, minister of science and technology, and the prime minister, and each one of them, within the first three sentences, said, 'Can you run Windows?'" Negroponte says.Let's say also that my feeling is that lot of volunteers waited for a long time a new major announcement for XOs deployment. Each new deployment is a new reason to believe is this wonderful project and we miss of this.
The drawback is that, of course, each news on "Windows on the XO" is very sensitive in the OLPC community. Just remind you the resign of Walter Bender and the fact that most OLPC volunteers come from the open source communities and you know what I mean.
By the way OLPC means "One Laptop Per Child" so we should be happy that new children could have the opportunity to have a laptop, including on Windows XP. So the Peru announcement seems to be a good way both to have a new deployment, to give more XOs to children and to confirm the vision of Nicholas Negroponte.
Unfortunately the reality is different: Peru is not at all a new OLPC deployment. According to the OLPC Wiki Peru agreed for 10,000 XO in 2007 and for 81,000 XO in 2008. So Peru children currently using XO on Sugar. As a result: this announcement means that the number or XOs will not increase.
It means also that only a part of the 91,000 XO in Peru will be used with Sugar. It sounds like a way to say "Finally Sugar is not so good". The Gizmodo article talk about "Sugar to XP transition"...
This announcement also add confusion just before the G1G1 2008. If you're an OLPC News reader, you know that there is already lot of confused things about the G1G1: price, date, dual-boot or not, countries, … which force OLPC foundation to publish a specific press news.
My feeling is that each time there is a confusion there is a risk to lose a XO buyer. And each new XO is very important because each new XO give us the promise to decrease the XO price from some cents. When the "100$ laptop project" is a "188$ laptop project", others laptops hit the 100$ target today: see the Minimote announcement, a laptop for only 98$.
My feeling is also that each time there is a confusion there is a risk to lose an OLPC volunteer because each announcement on Windows hurt Sugar volunteers. And each volunteer is very important to give support and help to the coming new XO users.
It's why I'm afraid that this announcement is not really a good news.