Two weeks back, we reported the halloween horror story that Mandriva was being wiped from all 17,000 ClassMate PCs, purchased for an education pilot in Nigeria - and being replaced by Windows XP. Many worried about bribery, while OLPCNews focused on the potential impact of this as a precedent for XP on the XOs.
Now ComputerWorld UK has a follow-up on the story and the plot just got thicker:
A government agency funding 11,000 of the PCs has overruled the supplier. Nigeria's Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) wants to keep Mandriva Linux on the Classmate PCs, said an official who identified himself as the programme manager for USPF's Classmate PCs project. "We are sticking with that platform," said the official, who would not give his name.But how long TSC will be Linux loyal is still open to question, especially when there is a $400,000 payment from Microsoft to Technology Support Center (TSC), the company implementing the ClassMate project, to think Windows instead of Linux:
Microsoft claims Nigeria is still demanding Windows. Microsoft's country manager in Nigeria, Chinenye Mba-Uzoukwu, provided a statement to IDG News Service on Thursday that said the company was informed by TSC that there was "a preference for a tested platform," meaning Windows, without elaborating further.Since Mandriva's deal with TSC provides a $10 customized OS for Nigeria that includes support, the real mystery is why TSC even entertained a call from Microsoft in the first place.
In fact, Intel has tested and certified three operating systems for the Classmate PC: Mandriva Linux, Metasys Linux and Microsoft Windows XP Pro. Mba-Uzoukwu wrote that Microsoft is still negotiating an agreement that would give TSC US$400,000 (┬ú190,323) for marketing activities around the Classmate PCs when those computers are converted to Windows.
So what is OLPNC's sponsor doing distributing Intel's Classmate PC and pushing for Windows XP over Linux OS? Has Tomi Davies' company gone to the Dark Side now? And where does all this leave OLPC in Nigeria, especially if Windows can run on the XO, with Microsoft "spending a nontrivial amount of money" on porting XP to the OLPC XO?