OLPC Unveiling of the Next Generation XO Laptop


If you are in Boston on May 20th, may I strongly suggest you crash the invite-only "State of the State" event at One Laptop Per Child headquarters at 1 Cambridge Circle. Starting at 10 am the event sounds like its going to be a watershed moment in OLPC history. Just listen to the breathless press invite:

olpc next generation
Selected invitees will have the opportunity to hear Nicholas Negroponte give a “State of the State” address on the One Laptop per Child project to date and the evolution of the XO laptop. In addition, attendees will be privy to a discussion on the product roadmap for the XO along with the exclusive unveiling of the next generation of the XO.

Nicholas and newly named OLPC President Chuck Kane will also be joined in the discussion by OLPC team members and government officials who have been on the ground in developing countries as thousands of XO laptops have been deployed and implemented into school systems. They will provide updates from countries including Peru , Uruguay and Haiti .
Now I don't know about you, but there is one phrase in all that which makes my pulse quicken: "the exclusive unveiling of the next generation of the XO." Now what could that next generation be?No matter what Nicholas Negroponte unveils, it will be the press event of the week for OLPC, and I'm quite sad I didn’t get an invite and will not be crashing the party.

Not that I will feel left out. I'm sure you have your own ideas on what Nicholas should be doing - just read the suggestions of what others would do if they could be Negroponte for a day. Better yet, give me your thoughts on what the "next generation XO" could be...

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It never fails. I have an invite to this, but my company decides to have a mandatory all-staff meeting that same day as part of a re-org of my group. I have to be around to sign HR papers in order to keep my job as is. I may try to get up there on the 21st to pick up the aftermath.


Well I was going to crash the event, even though I wasn't invited, but alas I will be in Geneva with my new job instead. Not that I am complaining - I love the opportunity talk tech with bigwigs, but it would be cool to see if my hunch - a Windows XO machine is what they announce.

Next gen XO?


Isn't it a bit early? or... are they just announcing XO with XO's version of Windows slapped on?


This is way too early.

First they should unveil an XO-1 with working power management. First they should make the XO-1 work as they promised.

Who will believe anything they say about XO-2 seeing the current state of XO-1?

There has been no talk about new hardware on the laptop.org mailing lists, so either this is super-double-secret, or humdrum (windows on xo-1).

I wouldn't waste my time. It will be a fresh new round of empty promises and exaggerations. When was the last time Negroponte actually made a serious, truthful announcement?

Remember how richest-man-in-the-world Carlos Slim was going to buy millions of laptops for Mexican kids?

I do agree, though, that the "2nd Generation" moniker is much needed. The sooner everyone forgets what the XO's current "generation" is like, the sooner all geek wounds will heal.

As for there being nothing in the mailing lists, this was in the Community News for this week:

A meeting was held at 1CC this week to kick-off the second generation of OLPC laptop hardware. The overall goals of this generation have been established for some time: 1) Much Lower Power, 2) Lower Cost, 3) More robust and easier to repair, and 4) Increased performance without sacrificing any more important goal. A surprising amount of consensus was reached on the overall form factor and look and feel, and more information will be publicly announced soon.

It sounds to me like we'll probably see an even less reliable keyboard and probably a poorer display. And no pressure-sensitive trackpad. That should save a couple of bucks...

It would be great when someone attending the event is actually reporting live, as we are used with Steve Job's keynotes. Did anyone think about this? Twitter and Qik are great tools for this.

anyone else notice this event is exactly 60 days after Nic said we would see XP on XO "in 60 days or less" ...?

@adam deaves: That is pretty creepy!

@Adam Daeves:
"anyone else notice this event is exactly 60 days after Nic said we would see XP on XO "in 60 days or less" ...?"

Of course. I never thought it would be something else than an announcement of MS taking over the OLPC.

The "new hardware" is simply the necessary changes to get XP to run at all on the XO. As MS is unable to adapt XP to the XO, then the XO must be changed to fit XP.


"...and government officials who have been on the ground in developing countries"

Now, I might be wrong, but I'll bet you a serving of Austin BBQ for your airline peanuts these officials ain't paying their own fare.

Standard procedure when you want to sell an idea, you provide all-expense-paid trips to development countries decision makers. Then you righteously wonder why locals don't find them as friendly as visiting OLPC staff finds them... :-0

In the '90s Uruguayan education decision makers just happened to have such meetings in France, then came back and made learning French mandatory (learning English became an option, and only for the last 3 years of High School).

Now, if this strategy means more sales for OLPC, is that a Good Thing?

Don't forget that Intel and Redmont can and do, boy do they have "trainings" for telco and IT people that just happen to require a visit to Seattle, so it would be hard to just outsell them, and OLPC is spending too much of the little it has available and doesn't disclose (that's why you didn't get your raise in Boston).

The worst is that finally, it this were true, we'd just be playing the same corrupted game, losing any sort of moral high ground.

Of course, not "knowing", well, I cannot righteously accuse, and I will truly we happy to apologize if someone can provide info on those trips expenses. That would prove we DO have the moral high ground still. I'd rather be wrong than lose that.

Small members of the annatidae family DO walk like ducks, and also quack. I bet they also love the Charles river.

The next generation OLPC XO-2 is most probably going to be based on the Marvell Xscale ARM based processor. An ARM/DSP based laptop will be half as cheap to manufacture, about half the weight (the XO-1 is quite heavy), consist of close to 50 components instead of the 900 components of the current XO-1 laptop, it'll run 3-4 times as long on a battery, especially instant standby/resume functions are easier to control with ARM/DSP, also the Marvell ARM based processor will make it easier to optimize power consumption for WiFi Mesh always-on (forwarding Mesh packets for a week on a battery) as well as integrating a mobile WiMax chip in there, running on the 700mhz analog-tv spectrum. This ARM based OLPC XO-2 will most probably be manufactured below $100 with the same screen as on the XO-1, a slightly smaller form factor but not too smaller since the keyboard is already quite small as it is.

"The next generation OLPC XO-2 is most probably going to be based on the Marvell Xscale ARM based processor. "

Beautifull, but it won't run XP. Only CE.

I think that will be the "ultimate" MS offer: CE on the XO. They offered that already at the start. They even offered it as a "open source" solution.

But how does CE stack up to Fedora?


No chance of getting a radically new device as part of the XO lineup, I guess. But one can still dream about the possibilities. Say, a handheld Sugar-enabled device? An OLPC smartphone? A keyboard-less tablet? A voice interface?

Boy am I glad there was an actual announcement. Especially one which shows some attention to feedback, which says something positive about competition (maybe it is an education project after all), and which unveils a device which sounds close to a keyboardless handheld for the rest of us.
Woohoo! I'm enthusiastic now. The new posts and comments will bring me back down quickly.