Colombia Signs Up for Windows XO Laptops


To great fanfare, Microsoft has announced that it is deploying XO laptops in Quetame and Chia, Colombia, with the Windows XP operations system, what I like to call "Windows XO", thereby claiming that Colombia signs up for OLPC laptops with Windows.

olpc windows xo
Windows XO laptop in action

This bragging certainly has pissed off Greg Dek, a Red Hat Community Architect working on OLPC. Greg declares that Microsoft bought 10,000 XO laptops in May and can do with them whatever they want, including trumpeted up pilots of Windows XO, and that OLPC builds with Linux and Sugar, and always will.

Now to an extent I can relate to Greg's frustration over Microsoft and One Laptop Per Child. He is right when he says:

[E]very time Microsoft farts in the general direction of OLPC, somebody prints a headline like "Microsoft cloud hovers over the OLPC project" that gets read by, oh, a bazillion people. And then we get another rousing chorus of the "OLPC sold out to Microsoft" song.
The mere whiff of XP flatulence near the XO laptop sends many into a dizzy. The great Peru Windows XO deployment? Apparently only 50 XO laptops. At the same time, its not like OLPC has tried very hard to resist Windows XO.

olpc windows xo
Not exactly anti-Windows XO

In fact, I remember this shocking image of a happy OLPC + Microsoft team looking on as Windows XO came alive, as much as Nicholas Negroponte's joy in announcing Windows as key to OLPC.

So with all due respect, Greg, while I know that OLPC is still committed to the ideals of FLOSS, its not trying all that hard to disprove that "OLPC sold out to Microsoft". Maybe OLPC could take the advice of Anonymous:

Prevent anyone making modifications to the laptop software from using the OLPC name. Then Microsoft is not freely allowed to make an OLPC trial, they have to rename it first.
At least then the headlines would read, "Colombia signs up for Windows XO laptops" and there would be some semblance that OLPC isn't a "Microsoft stooge".

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Prevent anyone making modifications to the laptop software from using the OLPC name? I see what you're getting at in the general sense, but that contradicts the openness of the OLPC software which allows every child using the XO to modify the software... in addition to the rest of the famous four freedoms of Free Software.

"in addition to the rest of the famous four freedoms of Free Software."

Sorry Morgan. But trademarks are allowed under the GPL. You CAN prevent others from putting your name on changed software.

Using a NAME is part of the four freedoms.


Rather than fighting an ideological war against Microsoft, why don't you start taking a look at what is being done with a Sugar XO verses what is being done with a Windows XO.

If these children are being trained in the use of Microsoft Office, or something of that ilk, you probably have a sound reason to criticize the nations who are adopting the XO. After all, in that case it is unlikely that the XO is meeting up with its education objectives.

Yet if Windows is being used effectively for education, then we should smarten up and start thinking about the future of the children involved. Fighting an ideological war on their turf is incredibly unfair to them.

"Yet if Windows is being used effectively for education, then we should smarten up and start thinking about the future of the children involved. Fighting an ideological war on their turf is incredibly unfair to them."

Sorry, I know that past performance is no guarantee for future results. However, MS Windows has been used in education since the 1980s with little positive to write about (and a lot of negatives).

Intel has at least shown they are in it for the long term and indeed have pledged money for educational computing. We can indeed say we take a look-and-see approach whether they actually mean it.

MS have done nothing at all to even deserve any hope for the best. Worse, what entity is still alive after having trusted MS?
(IBM, but they were bigger than MS to begin with)



I think that it's hardly fair to blame Microsoft for their success or lack thereof in the education world.

The first thing that you have to realise is that education is a social problem, not a technological problem. So it doesn't matter how much technology you throw at it, because it won't improve unless you have dedicated people in the loop. Dedicated students certainly help. A computer will help them go a long way if they use it as a tool for learning. But the other thing that you have to think about is the teacher: the person who guides and motivates the student. If they don't know how to use the computer in a creative and effective manner, chances are that their students won't be able to do so either (unless they are dedicated learners).

The second thing to consider is that neither Windows nor Sugar are educational in their own right. Rather, they form a framework upon which educational activities may be constructed. So the supposed failure of Windows says nothing about Windows itself, but it may say loads about the people who develop educational software.


I read that Colombia will have MS Windows XO, but they are just having 200 initially. I got an email and even though my Spanish is not so good, I can still read 200!

Hola a todos,

Hoy ya es "oficial" que se hara un piloto de olpc con windows aca en Colombia.
Es una triste noticia, lo peor es que la informacion que se da no es
clara en varios sentidos, no son todos los computadores los que van a
tener windows son tan solo unos 200 que se van a usar en un piloto,
los demas portatiles que ya han llegado al pais tienen sugar y
En fin, espero dar buenas noticias pronto y no estas que me llenan el
corazon de tristeza.


María del Pilar Sáenz
OLPC Colombia


From the link above that I provided, it shows that Colombia will have about 111,000 XO's in use besides the 200 in the pilot MS Windows XO program.

Since I have used MS Office VERY extensively, one might argue that the children might need MS Windows XO to operate MS Office. Actually, I downloaded the FREE GRATIS 3.0 using my desktop that operates MS Win XP. Well, it looks like a heavy weight and a close approximation to MS Office. I learned MS Excel after learning Borland Quattro Pro, now a part of Corel and which also formerly competed with Lotus123 many years ago. I passed the MS Excel 5.0 test the first time I took it without seeing it in use, since Quattro Pro was almost identical. Yes, I got a new job because I passed the test, but students can easily make the transfer of knowledge using 3.0, instead of MS Office also! REALLY, MS Windows XO is not needed, if 3.0 can be operated via the XO!

Get 3.0 for the XO and then watch the Sugar XO's sell!

Le he seguido la pista a OLPC desde hace un poco más de dos años. Siempre con ganas de poder vincular el proceso de Mariamulata Lectora con lo que ustedes hacen. Ya se logró por alguna de las vías que abiertas.
Sinembargo acabo de darme cuenta de que ustedes están queriendo usar el sistema operativo Windows XP, de la microsoft, en los computadores.
Esto es un retroceso grave, creo que deberían recapacitar esta decisión. El mundo tiene que empezar a pensar de otras maneras, con el sistema LINUX, usando Ubuntu y otros, los niños aprenden a manejar su autonomía, a ser más creativos, a modificar sus herramientas en toda libertad... a ser librepensadores y entrar a redes de trabajo muy interesantes en todo el mundo.
Creo que están a tiempo de recapacitar.
Por favor, piénsenlo mejor!

Big mistake installing Windows XP for this increadible projet.
Please think better about it.
Open source software is the future of freedom, choice, inteligence, it is a philosophical way of changing things in this unbalanced world.

Make the good choice, stay with LINUX, ubuntu, debian,... you must make a better research about it.