Merry Christmas Microsoft: XO-1.5 to Run Windows 7

   
   
   
   
   

Buried under the XO-3 vaporware hype was more information on the very real XO-1.5 hardware that is a gift to Microsoft. Just read this paragraph from the One Laptop Per Child press release with my emphasis added:

olpc windows 7
The XO 1.5 is the same industrial design as the XO 1.0. Based on a VIA processor (replacing AMD), it will provide 2x the speed, 4x DRAM memory and 4x FLASH memory. It will run both the Linux and Windows operating systems. XO 1.5 will be available in January 2010 at about $200 per unit. The actual price floats in accordance with spot markets, particularly for those of DRAM and FLASH.

As I predicted, the VIA C7-M processor means Windows 7 on the XO-1.5 and an end to the Open Source roots of OLPC. Yes, I know there's an argument that truly Open Source means open to any operating system, but I reject that Utopian hope. I continue to say that Windows - in any flavor - is an OLPC marketing flaw:

The XO is a specialized learning tool specifically designed to empower education for primary school children in rural and remote communities - 4-12 year olds in need of an educational experience suited for their developmental level. As such it should be compared to other learning tools; chalkboards, libraries, and textbooks - then the comparisons are much more interesting and compelling.

Once you look at the XO in the educational context, the question of "Does it run Windows?" becomes irrelevant. Or think of it another way - when was the last time you wondered if the Leapfrog came with Windows?

So with this new twist in OLPCs dance with Microsoft, I hear the Linux music fading, see few real learning learning chairs to sit in, and the "education project" game ending. That dual Gnome - Sugar boot becoming just as fanciful as an XO-3 in the wild.

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14 Comments

I don't see things quite as negatively.

First of all I think the sentence you highlighted is meant to say it *can* run both Windows and Linux operating systems. Which isn't really news.

Secondly XO-1s have been able to run Windows for quite some time now so countries have had the chance to use Windows instead of Linux for many months. Yet based on what we know the number of XOs in the field running Windows XP is probably in the hundreds and only maybe in the thousands. Compared to one million XO-1s running Sugar (Linux) this is a neglectable figure.

So personally I don't see Windows having much (if any) impact on OLPC deployments, not now and not in the forseeable future.

I agree. The fact that Microsoft said it is promoting Windows on the XO doesn't meant it really is. After all, the Borg lies all the time. If Microsoft really want to make Windows on XO a big success it would have poured in a ocean of money and influence, and made it one. The fact that Windows hardly even exists on the XO says to me that Microsoft doesn't actually care about it.

i disagree with the conclusion drawn...we need to expose the children to as much learning software as possible. If window helps that, then i'm fine with it.

I must also admit though, that to some extent i'm okay with sacrafices as well. I want the children to learn as much as they can, as fast as they can. And if while they learn about history, art, science, etc, they also learn about how to navigate through windows and use office (and as a result of learning windows and office, improve their lives in very tangible ways, such as an office job instead of physical labor) then i'm all for it.

I know people have their ideals. But we're also living in a 1st world country, and dont truly understand how bad some people have it. If some ideals are lost in the process of genuinely improving the lives of people, then i'm fine with it.

Up until now i really have been thinking of this project as a laptop project and not an education one. Now that I see it as an education one...I think this is a good thing.

While the XO 1.5 has a VIA processor and the XO 3.0 may never actually reach the market, the XO 1.75 is expected to have an ARM-based processor. I think there's a fairly decent chance we'll actually see this model go into production, and Windows XP, Vista, and 7 don't run on ARM. So I don't think the OLPC project is going hog-wild over Windows just yet.

Multiple OS options is good, in my view. It lowers the perceived risk for purchasers: if their initial choice of OS does not work out well, they can try an alternate.

I don't have any experience with Win7, but am much disappointed with WinXP needing frequent updates for security issues, and the necessary anti-malware software is an additional pain.

My non-techie brother has been using a Linux flavour on his PC for over a year, and is quite happy with it.

We can expect to see Windows CE (aptly named--WINCE) on the ARM versions of XO hardware. And the crippled WINCE version of Office. And no countries ordering it, although education officials will all ask whether it is available.

So it still isn't hand-wringing time for us, but it is known to be for M$. We have seen a very few bleeding-edge early adopter countries order two million XOs, in a target market of about 250 million units annually for one-to-one computing devices of all kinds.

When the interactive electronic replacements for printed textbooks are available for all common courses for all ages and in all widely-used languages, then XOs plus Freely-licensed learning materials will cost less than textbooks, and it will become a no-brainer for even the latest of late adopters to switch to savings + Freedom + better education + ending poverty.

Disclosure: For several months before the end of the Tech Bubble of the 90s, I documented Win CE APIs for Microsoft Web TV settop boxes running Microsoft Web TV Advanced Client software.

"When the interactive electronic replacements for printed textbooks are available for all common courses for all ages and in all widely-used languages, then XOs plus Freely-licensed learning materials will cost less than textbooks, and it will become a no-brainer for even the latest of late adopters to switch to savings + Freedom + better education + ending poverty."

Yep. But it may not necessarily be the XO that does it. They are being very slow. ALL they need is the XO 1.0 to be released with a faster processor, at least 4GB and they will have a winner. If they release at $200 without B1G1, I'll definitely buy 2 or more for development and testing.

Wayan, is that a real pic or photoshopped?

Any Windows 7 on XO image you see is edited - to my knowledge Windows 7 does not run on any XO laptop currently.

@Wayan

You say the XO-1.5 will be available for $200. Could you ellaborate on that? What is the source of this information?

Where will I be able to buy it for this price? From Amazon?

Touché - the $200 XO-1.5 price is from the press release, which does NOT mean you or I could actually buy it for $200 - unless we buy a few thousand at one time & are part of a Ministry of Education.

@Sola

Look up. Wayan included the link to the press link above, in his post.

I'm not suprised that OLPC wants to emphasize that the 1.5 can run Windows, since its not running (well) on the XO 1.0 has been a deal-breaker in some places. It's certainly not a selling point for me, but the odds of my getting yet another XO went down anyway since I got a smartphone which is good enough for most of my personal travel needs (and work loaned me a laptop for work needs).

Windows 7?

It uses 25% more electricity than XP, so I do not expect it to be running the on the XO 1.5.

This piece is ridiculous. Nice photoshop work, though.

Greg Y notes one of many reasons that you'll never find Win7 running on a 1.5. And as Christoph says, the press release only mentions what has been true for over a year... despite which no major deployment has gotten underway with Windows machines.

This isn't to say that a dual-boot deployment couldn't happen, but the availability of the option has neither slowed the distribution of Linux and Sugar through OLPC (which has distributed more free software educational tools to children than any other project ever) nor dampened the project's focus on education -- which has only grown over the past year.

There are now thousands of people writing about OLPC's real impact in their classrooms every month -- many more than the dozens who are occasionally invited to post here. That might make a better conversation topic than finding FUD in the news.

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