C|Net reporter Ina Fried has an interesting review of Sugar and Windows XP on the XO laptop, and I found his review both evenhanded and enlightened.
First, for all those who get all riled up over Windows vs. Linux, Ina delivered a great zinger I think we can all agree on:
"But what's missing in the Windows version is the personality that oozes out of the Linux incarnation"Call the Sugar user interface what you want, but its damn cool looking when compared to the boring Windows XP desktop. Yet it's the call that Ina makes on the comparison between the two that is the real zinger.
Rather than playing up on or the other, Ina goes with a young review's opinion to show the real issue facing any computers in schools implementation:
In the end, she said she liked the XO no matter what software it was running. It was fun and just the right size for her (even if all the adults complained about its small keyboard).And that's the take-away we need to focus on when comparing the different ways to integrate computer-assisted learning. We need to have education projects, not laptop projects. No matter the governmental, pedagogical, or computational operating system.
From my perspective, her experience shows not that the software doesn't matter. It matters a great deal. But it's all about how a school chooses to use the laptops. Used properly, as part of a well-thought-out curriculum, both models offer tremendous opportunities for students to learn about technology and how to use technology to learn about many other areas.