Did Microsoft Fake XP on XO Press Media?!


Do you remember all the hoopla around the XP on the XO announcement in May? Where Microsoft gave us a press release, blog post, and a video, all announcing Windows XP for the XO laptop. Well, thanks to the sleuths on OLPC News Forum it looks like Microsoft may have faked two of the three.

faked xp image
XP on XO Photoshopped?

First, let's look at the official press release photograph showing XP on the XO. Now, take a very, very close look. Do you see what teapot sees?

The image is definitely an overlay -- lower corners obscure the screen border, and black areas around the screen are nowhere to be found.

However diagonal graininess of the blue background seems to suggest that it may be taken on XO or XO emulator, and pasted to compensate for camera's contrast/dynamic range. Pretty strange considering that XO screen is not particularly bright or glossy.

If you look at the photo on James U's blog post, you can really tell the difference - his image has the XP screen looking way more natural. And if that were the only trespass, who really cares, eh? Everyone Photoshops.

Yet, its not. Just take a close look at the Microsoft XP on XO video:

Now re-watch that video, closely, and pay attention to the background and the details of Bohdan Raciborski's actions. Previously, we knew there was some time-shifting going on when Doug noticed subtle changes in previous comments:
The other observation is that this "video" is a very well done production and something done over a period of time and not likely a short period of time.

I say this because if you look at the section where he does the video capture, the recorded video of him waving does not have the poster on the wall behind him. The "live" shot where he waves his hand does have the poster behind him.

But recently, we've had a bit more analysis of the video, and the results may surprise you. After a close inspection, Anna has a startling opinion:
At the very least, the Windows Movie Maker thing was staged or faked. My BF has an XP machine, and being an A/V tech, was kinda curious. Recording video with Windows Movie Maker doesn't work like that. And it's out of order. Notice how the clip is at the bottom left of the screen the entire time and then disappears when it's time to "save" it.

In addition, the audio doesn't seem to match the wave patterns in the audio record. If it really played off the XO, I've never heard the XO speakers sound that good.

Now how could Microsoft faked such a video? Let's have Anna explain her hypothesis:
To spell it out, I'm bringing up the possibility that they captured the output from a regular XP machine to a video file and played it back on the XO to produce a carefully choreographed demonstration. Yeah, I know it sounds like a bizarre conspiracy theory.
Or does it? Its not like Microsoft hasn't faked video before. They were famously caught trying to use "massaged" videos in their anti-trust Netscape case with the Department of Justice. And in this case, a massaged video wouldn't be legally actionable, but did serve its PR purpose. That is until eagle-eye Anna spotted one last, tell-tale trace of XP on the XO fakery:
Notice how the HDD light (the one on the far left) only comes on during bootup and is off the entire time during the demonstration EXCEPT when he flips the screen around to show off Internet Explorer in book mode?
Huh. That's not how my XO hard disk light works.

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I saw ap protype of XP running on the OLPC XO-1 hardware as long ago as last December. It is not a simulation. As to how well it will run once anti-virus software is turn on, that is another matter.

The speculation about performance is not really relevant. What makes the XO an attractive platform for XP is that display, which makes for a much better Windows experience than on most other UMPCs.

Right now, I don't know what to think. My main question is why would they make a fake? What would there be to gain from all of that?

For now I'd rather watch and see what arguments come up here before I draw my own conclusions. But this was still a very interesting article.

I can't see any advantage to producing a fake video misrepresenting that XP runs on XO when it doesn't. From what I've seen here I wouldn't say this is faked, just not as linear as it appears. Just like in a movie the video was more like carefully produced scenes and a narration which are not created in the order they appear. The details are left for your mind to fill in.

The video shows a lot less than most people seems to interpret out of it. For instance it shows wireless only as a list of APs and windows showing as connected. You don't see or hear mention of mesh networking there, or that the driver they created is finished. The ability to sustain data transfer is implied as well.. but not shown. Time to login screen is mentioned, as others pointed out, isn't really compatible to XOs time to usable desktop. Windows shows the login screen before its completed booting so a compatible time reference is avoided. If you stop letting you mind see whats not really there and jump ahead to conclusions you see a video with stock XP starting up.

I'm guessing they used demo video that was produced at several different points in time (or development even) then combined them with the narration to produce this video. This was probably the best way to insure the video came out perfect (no human error, no blue screens, nothing unplanned) without intending to actually deceive. They are a big professional company with a great PR machine: they simply aren't going to release a video that isn't carefully scripted, produced, edited, and timed. They know to put the best foot forward by retouching photos in Photoshop and selectively editing the video together.

And starting XP isn't hard even on a old, slow desktop with little RAM; getting applications to run well on it is different. If you want to see how well XP on XO really works you'd have to experience it in person. The video says it is unmodified XP on a XO. That has many potential problems not addressed in the video. As a quick example: virtual memory page files on NAND or SD isn't going to be a good idea even with wear leveling. Stock XP needs and was designed to use page files, espically on lower ram machines. Windows applications tend to make big assumptions, especially on minimum dimensions for dialog boxes, that can be very hard to overcome. The OS may boot, but the applications may never work quite right. I'd be curious to see how well it works with anti virus and wifi enabled and usb in use... similar to what a normal user would be using at a time. I think if MS really wants to put XP on XO they should be modifying it to fit the hardware. If not the XO, then at least that class of SDD, ultra small screen computers. There are a lot of design decisions in those small laptops like the XO that are contrary to what XP expects to be running on.

If Microsoft wants to stop Linux from encroaching further on Windows market share, making potential volume buyers believe that Windows on XO will soon be available could be a tempting scheme. Like previous releases of Windows, WinXO might be delayed many times, but as long as potential volume buyers can be persuaded to wait (and not go with Linux), Microsoft will accomplish its goal of stopping Linux.

I have never seen documentation saying what the left-side LED indicators mean on the XO. My guess is that the leftmost ("lollipop") LED indicates that WiFi is ON and connected (because it goes dark when I tell my XO to disconnect from my wireless access point). And I guess that the next leftmost LED indicator (" (o) ") means WiFi data transfer in progress. If anyone knows for sure, please let us know so that we can accurately interpret the MS WinXO demo video.

@thomas - the LED documentation is the first/second hit on OLPC's wiki's google search: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Power_Management#Status_Indicators

You really should pay even more careful attention. The poster is indeed there during the video playback, it's just that the angle puts the poster behind him, but you can catch brief glimpses of it around his shoulders.

Vaporware, cheaper to produce than real software and it is more effective at crushing the competition.

Vaporware is one of M$'s best weapons, people think they will get something great so they don't buy the competition's offering. If the M$ software really existed, they'd be disappointed with bugs, security flaws and instability issues.


When the Microsoft spokeperson does the video recording, the green LED indicating that the camera is active is not "on" (or at least it doesn't look active from the video). According to the hardware specs, that LED is hardwired to the camera unit and if the camera is active, the LED will be on (not something a driver can disable).

That would make the clip recording part a bit of a setup.

When he starts the video capture at 2:31, the recording light flashes. However, later on it is silent.

I can understand that they "faked" the actual recording, as the video camera would be blocking the view. So when he waves, there is NO camera on the background.

This is the customary "interview technique", where the recordings of the questions and the answers are separate.

I did miss the poster. I am not quite certain whether it should have been visible, given the angle.

All in all, this is simply a heavily processed piece of video. It doesn't "prove" anything. But video NEVER proves anything.

And the fact that MS maybe lying should not be a surprise. It would have been a surprise if they, for once, would have told the truth.

There are good technical and historical reasons to assume that the video is not "the truth, the whole truth and only the truth".


Have any of you stopped to consider that the video compression distorts the video sufficiently to make the detection of small details (such as the video LED) hit and miss at best. At least that's the case for the YouTube version that I saw.

As for Microsoft and the truth: sure they are a business with motives to ensure the sustainability and profitability of their enterprise, but that doesn't automatically make their actions dishonest and the actions of open source activists honest.

From what I've observed over the past decade, open source activists have a lot of emotional investment in their software (or against Microsoft). This sometimes distorts their version of the truth, whether they intend it to or not. Alas, even if it is the latter, a firm belief in something does not make something true.

Right now we have Linux on the XO. We should be happy about that. Linux was the first OS on every low cost ultra-mobile that I've heard about. That says something. It says that Linux is an enabling technology for innovative new products. Alas, bitch-fests won't enable Linux to hold that position. The only way it will maintain that position is by consistently being better.

In the case of the XO, that means having something useful in classrooms and for the enrichment of a child's education outside of school. That means developing software. If you cannot write software, then write curricular resources. If you know bugger all about curricula, then create some neat stuff that kids can do and publish your results online. Translate materials to the languages of countries that the XO is used in. Just do something, and make sure it is constructive.

images is here, save it;

and open it with a text editor like kate;
ohhh did you see these words;
"Adobe Photoshop CS2 Windows 2008:05:14 15:08:34"