Microsoft Windows XP on the Children's Machine XO?!


No Windows XP on the OLPC!!

In a stunning about face, it seems that Microsoft is attempting to install Microsoft Windows on the OLPC XO. Yes, you read that right. The very Microsoft whose chairman Bill Gates once said of the One Laptop Per Child idea:

"geez, get a decent computer where you can actually read the text and you're not sitting there cranking the thing while you're trying to type."
Now it seems he has his minions trying to crank the Windows bloatware down from its 1.5Gb of over-typed code to fit on the svelte 512Mb of built in Flash memory on the OLPC $208 or $972 dollar laptops.

Silicon Valley Sleuth first teased us with the idea on Saturday with its report of Nicholas Negroponte's speech at NetEvents 2006:

Although the machine is preinstalled with Linux but this doesn't mean that you can't run Windows on the machine, Negroponte said. " We put in an SD slot just for Bill," he quipped.

Negroponte also confirmed that there are currently machines at Microsoft that were being prepped for Windows. But he also revealed that Microsoft was having a "genuine issue" with open source and that the Redmond giant was "struggling with it."

And now Vnunet has an entire article on how Microsoft is looking to run Windows on OLPC which makes me shudder. I don't know about you, but I couldn't think of a worse misappropriation of the Children's Machine than to make it yet another Windows clone.

No matter what you think about the Sugar UI usability, you have to agree that it's a beautifully thin operating system, Spartan and yet fully functional, and along with the smoking hot dual mode screen and speedy suspend/resume, a great leap in computer technology.

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The people that know me know that I am not a Windows fan, so my opinions are certainly biased. I don't mind Windows being able to run on this machine, But I am concerned about why. If the reason is they wish to compete for what works best for the developing nations, great. If they are getting in on training the youth so they will buy Windows after they get out in working world, then I am not so impressed. I fear the second is the proper business model.

I have been following this project for quite awhile, and like many others, I want one.

Vnunet is quoting Sian Berry, principal speaker for the Green Party declaring:

"It would be a massive missed opportunity not to extend software freedom to students in the global south. [...] By installing its programs on these laptops Microsoft hopes to create market domination and vendor lock in. That is unacceptable bribery."

Very surprised to read that news. I do not see any good reason for OLPC to have Windows running on its laptop and we can reasonably doubt about the true motivation of Microsoft. An idea as bad as the OLPC idea was good...

Lets put the 'Windows OS' in perspective.
Its success in the early days was based on the ease of copy/install of the software on to any Intel based computer with enough ram.
It was the only real GUI software you could easily get for cheap computers. OS2 never really took off as an alternative and Apple/Mac machines were locked up in the Hardware/Software. Besides, who could afford a Mac?
My hats off to Bill Gates with his monopolising of the Manufacturer installed Windows OS.

Now he'll monopolise the OLPC? Maybe in a retail version...It could be a good thing for 'Windowed Users' but will it be more of a Windows CE product?

Negropontes strategy is obviously to face-off against the Intel Eduwise Laptop with his own 'Windows' alternative.

This is a *genius* move on Negroponte's part. Basically, it will paint 'Ol Bill in corner. Now his mega-billion Gates foundation can't turn down requests for funding the OLPC project. The Gates Foundation should be funding this project. Negroponte just eliminated one of the roadblocks to this.

Also, Once kids and schools have physical control of these machines, they can re-install Sugar.

I am prepping my grant request to the Gates Foundation as we speak.

Good point, Anil, about painting Gates into a corner.

Especially after criticizing the projects as roundly as he has, I can't fathom why Gates would want to be a part of this. Well, on the other hand, the cynical side of me can come up with a couple of reasons. For some reason, his sudden desire to be involved irritates the hell out of me. Is *anyone* allowed to do *anything* in the computing community without MS getting involved, for pete's sake?

To quote from Negroponte's LinuxWorld keynote back in April:

"We are also talking to Microsoft. They're going to make a Windows CE version" for the machine, Negroponte said. "We're going to help them make a Win CE version, so geez, why criticize me?"


I didn't understand why people were shocked at this news back then since he had said this from the very start. The software OLPC will supply will be the special version of Fedora, but governments will be free to use alternatives.

And why are people shocked again now?

Well I know they supposedly =have= to learn the QWERTY keyboard, but when are we going to forgive our children this historical oddity and maybe at least try something like a Dvorak keyboard?

Since the first announcements that Microsoft intended to port something to the olpc, it's all gone rather quiet.
Has anyone heard any whispers, unsubstantiated rumours, or indeed anything about their progress?

I think it's a big mistake not involving Microsoft in the OLPC project! I Europe, Bill has gained a lot of credits for his work helping poor people all over the world. His work and efforts making this world a better place is recognized all over the world. A OLPC PC with Windows sends the right signals to the rest of the world, where extremists right now are recruiting anti US individuals due to the lack of expected humanitarian help from the west world.

What about choices.

I would love to have the choice to use xp with my olpc.

Then I'll be able to use all my software with it.

I'm even willing to pay for a XP OLPC license.

Sorry linux guys, but not everybody likes cryptic console commands, difficult to install (sometimes buggy software), and lack of hardware compatibility.

"What about choices.

I would love to have the choice to use xp with my olpc."

Choice comes at a price. The possibilities for hardware development for the OLPC would have been extremely restricted if they had been required to host XP. Moreover, they would have needed more expensive memory and would have to forget mesh wireless.

Even MS can't make XP run on the current design. Let alone the power saving features needed to get the battery life they aim for.


"Sorry linux guys, but not everybody likes cryptic console commands, difficult to install (sometimes buggy software), and lack of hardware compatibility."

I forgot. You have obviously not used Linux for a long time. And if you won't use buggy software, you must be an Apple user. :-)