Microsoft has been hard at work getting XP to run on the OLPC, and with the recent OLPC hardware upgrade, this got a lot easier. Among other things, the upgrade increased the hard drive space to 1G, making the problems getting XP to run (with anything other than the raw OS) much easier.
At least I hope it was more than just the OS they were having problems with getting down to 500MB - I've kept a BartPE Bootable XP-on-a-CD handy for recovery, and what you can fit on a CD can be squeezed down to 500 MB.
The Slashdot community is wondering if this hardware upgrade was to better support XP - the connection seems possible, but not definite as yet. It seems my fears weren't without good cause, with the current reports of XP now running on OLPCs. OLPC Board member as well as Negroponte have both reacted positively to the $3 MS XP package, though whether this is directly tied to XP OLPCs is still unclear, as ComputerWorld reports:
Negroponte "just wants to see lower-cost computers in kids’ hands," he said. "If that means other companies filling this need, he’d still be happy as a clam. Our mission is not to beat Apple, Dell or Microsoft."What does XP on the OLPC mean for the constructivist pedagogies underlying the OLPC project? Will the view-source key just bring up the "Start" menu now?
Still, Evans did venture to say that he felt Unlimited Potential, [the $3 MS package) along with moves by Microsoft’s traditional ally, Intel Corp., to produce its own low-cost PC, were only partial reactions to the OLPC.
Selling Windows XP and other software for $3 is "only a piece of the solution, whereas I believe the OLPC is a complete solution for that target market," he said.
On one hand, this increases government options with the OLPC, but on the other, it extends even further Microsoft's lock-in of the desktop. As a closed source product from a profit-driven company, we have little protection against costly upgrade paths. Plus, do we really want 100 million XP laptops in the hands of new users around? The fears of a massive OLPC botnet would be realized for sure! One wonders if anti-virus software is included for the $3 price tag.
Of further interest is that the XP product line is perilously close to dropping out of Microsoft's support lifecycle, it already got a bump after customer outcry, but is now slated to fade out of support in 2009, now that Vista has been released.
At least this is better than the SchoolNet Namibia story a few years back, when Microsoft donated Office, but not the OS, leading the project to investigate the cost of buying OS licenses so they could use the "free" Office... and went with Linux.