So the long awaited moment has happened, Microsoft has bought One laptop Per Child with sweet promises to Nicholas Negroponte of more XO laptops sales. In what I feel is a massive marketing flaw, Negroponte has allowed the conversation around OLPC to be dominated by comparisons to business class computers. Just read his New York Times quote:
Education ministries want low-cost computers to help further education, but they often see familiarity with Windows-based computing as a marketable skill that can improve job prospects.Now just who does Microsoft trot forward as an example of a possible XO laptop buyer? Save the Children, a large non-governmental organization that according to James Utzschneider, has a Windows-only policy. Let's read their quote from the XP on XO press release:
“The people who buy the machines are not the children who use them, but government officials in most cases,” said Nicholas Negroponte, founder of the nonprofit group. “And those people are much more comfortable with Windows.”
“Technology’s positive impact can lead to the accelerated development of competencies and life skills for students everywhere,” said Edward Granger-Happ, chief information officer of international nonprofit organization Save the Children. “The benefits of Microsoft’s proven technology platforms for all program areas offered in conjunction with OLPC’s XO laptop create enormous potential for children and teachers to learn, grow and contribute to their communities.”Funny that Edward would have such Windows XP love. Might a $4.5 million donation of Microsoft software to Save the Children have influenced Ed's opinion? Mercy Corps, which I know intimately, also received a Microsoft donation at the same time, but is definitely OS agnostic - what works best is what's used.
And it seems that Nicholas Negroponte knows what to use to move XO laptops, and that's Windows XP on the XO free from Open Source "fundamentalism". Just read the last phrase of this telling quote from Negroponte:
“Today’s announcement, coupled with future plans for a dual boot version of the XO laptop, enhances our ability to deliver on this vision. In addition, OLPC will work with third parties to port its user interface, called ‘Sugar,’ to Windows.”So Sugar is now "third party" software, eh? And Nicholas once called this an education project.