Windows XO Video: No Dual Boot with Linux


If you want skip the XP on the XO debate and really see what Microsoft has accomplished check out this video of Unlimited Potential's Bohdan Raciborski showing off Windows XO.

Microsoft's James Utzschneider has this to say about the XP on XO effort and results:
It is the same basic Windows XP implementation that runs on the Intel Class Mate, ASUS eeePC, and other products in this emerging class of ultra low cost laptop PCs. As I have posted earlier, we had to write multiple custom drivers and a BIOS to get Windows to boot from an SD card in order to do the Windows port to the XO.

This is the initial implementation customers will be able purchase when the product RTMs and will be a "Windows only" XO that Nicholas Negroponte himself has described as running "really fast." Customers can also choose to buy the existing Linux/Sugar XO.

Longer term, the OLPC plans to write a new BIOS and increase the amount of flash storage on the XO to support a "Dual Boot" option that would enable children to use either Linux or Windows on the same machine. This is fine with us as long there continues to be an excellent Windows experience on the XO.

After watching the video, what do you have to say?


Wait, re-read that comment from James, like I just did. Right now, it's a Windows Only XO laptop!

The concept of a dual Windows and Linux boot on the XO laptop is just that - a concept. Microsoft and OLPC will be testing Windows-only XO's in next month's limited trials in four or five countries, no dual-boot to be found. That brings up a $7 per XO laptop in additional cost, question:

Will the XO laptop ever be a dual boot machine or did Nicholas Negroponte just waste two years of Open Source community's efforts?

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I say "bleh". I also regret taking part in the G1G1 program. NN's mismanagement of the project has basically tanked it IMHO.

I don't know if people realized the power of having a single open platform with millions of devices out there. It would have given anyone with an interest in the subject a chance to put out a highly-polished OS. The only problem is that it takes more than just a year of undirected work and at least some stewardship at the top.

While I like the concept of spinning off the Sugar interface, it would have been far better to develop it as part of the OLPC project.

... just so I don't come off that way, I don't want to belittle the work done so far. And at least we gained some cool tools like Powertop and lots of Xorg improvements (which I think were influenced to some degree by OLPC).

I'm just bitter because I feel like we've lost something big. Hopefully the next time there's an opportunity like this the foundation will be in place and it'll come off without a hitch.

I'm happy to see that all OS options are still actively being developed.

Now that's what I'm talking about!

You should post a video of Sugar doing the same things he just did so we can see them side by side. ie, did that really start up 4 times faster and can you really get 20 hours from the battery?

Petty question: how do they get the XO's video capture to work so well?

I can see why people who are used to Windows might be attracted to this.

We all remember MS and Intel describing XO as a mere 'gadget' in which no-one will be interested. Well, how the times have changed - after OLPC being knocked back by both MS and Intel when OLPC management (and that included Walter Bender btw) approached them at the start of the project we now see Intel scrambling in pursuit with their Classmate PC and MS spending millions on porting XP to XO.

A remarkable victory for OLPC and a step guarantying, at last, popular acceptance by reluctant education bureaucrats.

Well done OLPC...


"The concept of a dual Windows and Linux boot on the XO laptop is just that - a concept." Once a concept is implemented it stops being merely a concept. Here ( ):

One Laptop per Child is announcing an agreement with Microsoft to make a dual boot, Linux/Windows, version of the XO laptop. In addition, our intention is to engage one or more third parties to port Sugar to run on Windows in order to reach a wider installed base of laptops. In the meanwhile, OLPC remains fully committed to our goal: a completely free and open learning platform for the world's children. The mission statement of OLPC has not changed in three years (attached).
Open Firmware V2, the free and open source BIOS, is now capable of running Linux, Microsoft Windows XP and other operating systems, and was developed by Firmworks with support from OLPC. This will enable dual boot of OLPC XO laptops with Microsoft Windows XP in addition to the existing Fedora-based system and will become the standard BIOS/bootloader for all XO systems when completed. With this "free BIOS," the XO-1 continues to be the most open laptop hardware currently available.

Im not a Microsoft fan at all but I have to say they achieved quite some engineering work on this piece of hardware from what I can see in the video. It seems they have thrown the best 40 engineers they have at it. I still want to get a "look and feel" of XP on the XO since the video cannot deliver a continuous XO experience on win xp because it is divided in so many little pieces.

I am still very sad that OLPC has chosen to go down a route which I don't see optimal for a learning environment. My professional life and jobs I had till now started with a SuSE 6.4 release a friend copied for me and which I studied to the core because I had nothing better to do. This doesnt make me a university degree professor but till now pays my bills and I learned how important software and an OS+Software is that has been written with people in mind who want to understand how it works. I dont see windows being a system like that. Windows is more for operators, not for a young spirit who wants to explore. Id rather see a radical new generation who challenges and explores tecnique than a generation of "users" who know how to operate a computer.
Thinking back a bit I had questions like - how far can I go? How does it work? Can I break it? Can I fix it? What is Assembler? (while having no idea :-)
In my opinion OLPC has taken a marketing decision to sell more laptops that wouldn't have been necessary because there is enough "competition" now selling laptops in the same market place. They have paved the way and indicated a lucrative market which fulfills their mission of getting educational tools in the hand of children. In my opinion and that might sound stronger than what the reality actually is, by dividing the development community who was working combined on a free project they have failed in delivering the best possible product to children (therefor there will be plenty). FOSS takes time and a certain learning curve also for supervisors and Im not surprised that 40 microsoft engineers working full time will come up with an impressive product.

Well have to see how the project, its adaption in the countries and sugar in particular which I find a major milestone in the OLPC project will develop. Maybe its all for the good but I doubt it. In my personal opinion OLPC has taken a step backwards in their commitment of delivering the best educational tool for selling as many laptops as possible.

I'm very encouraged by what I saw on that video. Drivers for microphone, camera, and power management look very nice. No mention of the stylus areas though.

I'm looking forward to the opportunity to try XP on it.

I agree with delphi. It IS a victory for OLPC. Microsoft met OLPC on OLPC's terms and will deliver a version of XP that runs on the existing XO hardware.

I'm happy to see the number of OS options for the XO expand as well. But then again, I got into the G1G1 program primarily to support the program from the hardware end (I appreciate the design designs made) rather than the software end.

For general purpose use by grownups, that looks like a much better OS than what the XO ships with. But what was the OLPC supposed to be about again?

The video was extremely interesting for showing what the hardware can do. I thought the crap video recording on the XO was due to hardware limitations, but clearly it isn't.

I would like to see a linux distro similarly tweaked for the XO with full driver/multimedia/wireless support that 'just works' on install. Windows isn't an option for me because there's no way I'd go back to using a closed source, virus/trojan prone OS. And I think it really sucks to stick kids with one, even if you think they should have a general purpose OS rather than Sugar. If I ran a botnet, I would be delighted with this news.

But what made me really sick was when he was demonstrating reader mode and Bill Gate's smiling face was there on the screen of the XO.

"I'm very encouraged by what I saw on that video. Drivers for microphone, camera, and power management look very nice. No mention of the stylus areas though."

What power management? All he shown was screen rotation and backlight/color mode switching off, we had it working for ages.

The rest works just fine for me on Ubintu.

Just timed my XO booting. 108 seconds, including the 5 second count down because I have a developer key. Not 4 x 50 seconds. What else in the video was 'exaggerated'? It might be wise to reserve judgement until we get some independent reviews of XP on the XO.

James clearly mentioned "sleep mode".

You anti-Microsoft bigots make me laugh. First you all claim that it will be impossible for XP to run on the XO. That it is too big and too bloated to run. Then you say, "well if they DO manage to get it to run, it will be a dog.". Here's a video showing that XP boots up 4x faster than Sugar. (if James is to be believed). Video is recorded in higher quality than currently under Sugar. Windows Movie Maker runs on the XO. Full USB plug-n-play under Windows is supported. Fullscreen video playback is smooth.

Pretty good for a bloated OS.

So now that it has been proven that the impossible (running XP on the XO) is possible, the tune changes again. Now it is "big whoopty doo. XP runs on the XO. We've been able to do all of that on Linux for months."

So if XP on the XO is no big deal, then why are all of you going "Henny Penny" on us, running around proclaiming that the sky is falling?

How can something be a life-and-death threat and no-big-deal both at the same time?

This is probably a win for the OLPC program (and its users), and a huge win for Microsoft.

At the beginning of the OLPC project, one of the basic assumptions was that in order to make a $100 laptop, you had to take advantage of Moore's Law, but in reverse: instead of exponentially increasing processing power at the same cost, use "lightweight" software to be able to useful things on a very low cost machine.

The decision to go with Linux was initially driven by the idea that it would run faster and better on limited hardware. A lot of the ideology came later.

By showing Windows XP significantly outperforming Linux on the OLPC, Microsoft has scored a huge win. I had already realized that the hardware was not a limiting factor - XFCE on the OLPC runs reasonably well, considering that it is an unsupported hack. (I have not been able to get wireless network management working, or the camera, on XFCE.) By throwing significant amounts of engineering talent at this, I'm sure that Microsoft has come up with something far better than the XFCE on Fedora hack. By showing Windows running faster than a supposedly "lightweight" Linux on the OLPC, they've scored a major marketing victory (which is why I'm sure they've done a good job).

About the children: I think this is a win for them too. All the children I know prefer their experience on Windows to Sugar. The Paint program is better, the word processor is better, they can play Flash games, etc. My 5 year old niece prefers XFCE to Sugar, and will undoubtedly prefer Windows. There is already a vast field of educational software out there for Windows - much of it free and open source.

In addition, children now have an environment which looks the same as most of the computers they are likely to encounter, in schools or Internet cafes. Let's face it - most of the world's poor children are now in cities, and have had some encounter with computers. An XO with XP is better able to interoperate with the existing computing infrastructure than an an XO with Sugar, which can barely coexist even with other Linux systems (getting stuff in and out of the Journal, anyone?)

I've spent too many hours trying to make the best of Sugar, then trying to make the best of XFCE on Fedora. It's all been an uphill battle, with limited (no) support from the OLPC organization. To be honest, I don't have time for this. I don't care if I can't recompile the kernel, or hack the user interface.

If Windows delivers a better user experience on the XO, then I want it.

Video evidence from Microsoft? I heard that one before:

"Microsoft's defence took a potentially fatal hit today in court, as the DoJ demonstrated that a video demonstration had been 'massaged,' and forced Microsoft senior VP Jim Allchin to concede "they filmed the wrong system.""

I didn't see anything on security? But then, when has security of the USERS been a concern of MS.


Actually I'm quite disappointed by the video shown here... Yes, the boot-up time is impressive, I'll give them that. Video performance also seems to be quite good (but that was what I had expected). Black / white mode seems to be integrated well (I didn't think we'd see that so soon).

However what we didn't see was collaborative software, educational software or content, localized Windows versions, etc.

All in all I had expected more after all the resources (people, money, time) that Microsoft threw at the project.

@Christoph Derndorfer:
"However what we didn't see was collaborative software, educational software or content, localized Windows versions, etc."

Microsoft is in none of these. To them, this is just a cheap laptop. A toy for children to prepare them for the real thing: Vista.


Horrible. Absolutely horrible. The "developed" world is complacent with a virus-ridden POS so now we have to force it on everyone?

Someone please step up and break up this monopoly that continually spews bloated garbage into the world. I'm tired or being forced to use microsuck products simply because nobody makes the effort to use a better system/software. That or vendors continually sell out to them (as with the OLPC).

The sad part is that this may be the first Windows I will actually pay for. I am not happy about it to say the least but from the practical point of view:

I have Ubuntus (Hardy, Gutsy) on 3 of our family and work computers. All work flawlessly (after some tuning). The only unusable Linux we have is Sugar on the XO. I have the latest, mostly stable version (703) and almost nothing works as expected. Power management is still seriously flawed (in suspended mode, it draws 6% battery/hour just to mention one horroristic part), the reader application doesn't remember the position of the last book reading ...etc. I don't see when OLPC will ship a working Sugar to my XO.

If Windows XO provides working hibernate and suspend and decent hardware support for all parts of the XO, DAMN, I will pay $7 for it. If a tailored Linux reaches maturity on the XO, I will probably switch back (but I am not holding my breath).

"If Windows XO provides working hibernate and suspend and decent hardware support for all parts of the XO, DAMN, I will pay $7 for it. If a tailored Linux reaches maturity on the XO, I will probably switch back (but I am not holding my breath)."

If you can afford more, I seriously doubt whether MS will let you get away paying only $7. They never allowed it before.


This may put me at odds with many of the commenters here, but I have been looking forward to this for some time. In OLPC's defence I am most certainly not the target market for these laptops, as I am an adult based in a western country, but as a geek I have been underwhelmed/disappointed by Sugar in the months since receiving my XO.

Remember, most open source software has a windows port so you will still be able to use almost anything on an XP XO that you could on the Sugar XO.

I am not hugely concerned about not being able to see the source code for the OS as I think that is applicable to only a tiny portion of the potential userbase and doesn't undermine the overall mission of education (which I still see as the main benefit, notwithstanding Negroponte's change of heart).

I think the real loss here is that this does not use Bitfrost, which for me was by far the most exciting software development to come out of the XO. I hope that it is included in the dual-boot or Sugar layer versions but I am not sure how that would work since it represents such a different way of thinking about security. Does anyone know if it is doable?

Hell, maybe Microsoft should license the technology and use it with all their software from now on!

"James clearly mentioned "sleep mode"."

"Sleep mode" is a traditional power management (suspend/standby), not what XO power management was designed for. It "sleeps" like a celphone between calls -- does not consume energy except for the bare minimum but can immediately, from the user's point of view, react to any input, is on the network, etc. The problem with SD card is that on a laptop booted from it, the card can not be treated as a removable device, like what it usually is. Plus, of course, SD driver bugs, however it's yet to be seen how buggy are Microsoft drivers for XO-specific hardware.

I have lot of emotions, but in the end, ok, let's compete. I don't believe in such freedom where Microsoft is restricted to run Windows XP on XO.

Of course lot of geeks like us hoped OLPC will stay close to it's narrow vision. But as everything, visions changes. Maybe it is for the best.

Some of people were partly right that it is kinda hard to compete with Microsoft which can showel milions in matter of months for delivering better performance as it is now. However, giving up means that you actually don't believe in open source spirit.

In fact, this annoucement has inspired me to give helping hand to OLPC and Sugar. I would hope that Microsoft bashers here and in Slashdot would do the same.

I have just measured boot-up time on Ubuntu running on XO, and it's 65 seconds from power on to login screen (including 5-seconds countdown that developer key enables), 79 seconds from power on to desktop, if I have auto-login enabled.

I guess, Microsoft people have a reason to brag about the speed of SD card they have bought for that demonstration, but otherwise it's nothing unusual.

If windows can boot on xo-1 for just 50 seconds and ubuntu for 65-79 seconds, then it could be that python engine in Sugar makes the original OS for XO laptop running so slowly. um.........

scotty: to load actual content on Windows laptop it will require a lot more than 50 secs.

To those who think this is a tragedy, imagine OLPC took two cases of XOs to the Boston Best Buy, one set running sugar, one set running Windows, at $300 a pop. Which system would fund more computers for their target audience?

If Windows on XO is as fast as it is made to seem, then the developers of Sugar and the OLPC OS have really fucked up.

"If windows can boot on xo-1 for just 50 seconds and ubuntu for 65-79 seconds, then it could be that python engine in Sugar makes the original OS for XO laptop running so slowly. um........."

I have booted into Sugar -- the time is 113 seconds, of which almost half was loading Sugar after system and X were up. Nothing really unusual, and if boot time reduction is really important, I am sure, some "creative buffering" can reduce it further.

The truth is that OLPC's own programmers (including escaping-rats Bender & Krstic) had a chance to do things their way and the result was a truly dysfunctional product named "Sugar".

Desperate for sales, Negroponte did what any other merchant would have done: he went for the tried and true (warts and all) system: Windows.

That's all there is to this story.

Boo on windows! They could not keep their hands out of the pot. Looks like they will turn a great idea into a worldwide monopoly for them! Sorry kids, now you will have to deal with pop-ups, melware and viruses. Not to mention become minions to the windows machine! Get 'em when their young Joe Camel!

Sugar is MISERABLE. Absolutely horrible. I can't wait to get windows xp running on my XO.

Negroponte should have taken S Jobs offer to port OS X when he had the chance.

The Sugar interface and the slow and incomplete OS are the main flaws in the OLPC project.

Sugar is the main reason why my brother (Teacher) decided to get his three kids a cheap Dell computer. The lack of a file browser is a desaster. Kids need to be prepared for the real computing world, not for a interface they will never encounter again as soon as they move beyond the XO.

Let's hope Windows will make the XO usable although i doubt it.

But at that point Sugar has failed, they turned down OS X so Windows is the only option left. What a waste of a great idea..............

Notice how the “50 seconds” to which he was referring was for getting to the sign-in screen. It did not include the amount of time it takes to get from signing in to a fully-running system. A full boot would, then, take even longer than 50 seconds.

"Desperate for sales, Negroponte did what any other merchant would have done: he went for the tried and true (warts and all) system: Windows."

And who, may I ask, appointed him a merchant in a not-for-profit organization largely supported by volunteers and donations?

"To those who think this is a tragedy, imagine OLPC took two cases of XOs to the Boston Best Buy, one set running sugar, one set running Windows, at $300 a pop. Which system would fund more computers for their target audience?"

The third case -- of shoes, that would be a more appropriate product to sell for charity. Shoe factory also won't insist on stuffing one shoe a box with every laptop.

So what happens to the collaborative aspects of the effort: sharing screens, browsing pages in groups, chatting machine-to-machine? I hope a lot of this is still retained. At least through Sugar, end users (kids!) can collaborate easily and intuitively. What will they learn with XP? how to look for virus-protection software?

"Sugar is the main reason why my brother (Teacher) decided to get his three kids a cheap Dell computer. The lack of a file browser is a desaster. Kids need to be prepared for the real computing world, not for a interface they will never encounter again as soon as they move beyond the XO."

Let us not confuse the surface UI and OS and other things. Microsoft does change the look of Explorer, desktop, Office apps tool bars, and etc. every five years or so. So, as far as the interface is concerned, learning the current version of Windows doesn't help these kids to "prepare for the real computing world." (And what you think is the real computing world is probably nothing to do with the real real computing world.) On the other hand, learning the surface level UI is easy, easpecially for children and small variation there is not an issue. Don't worry about it.

And, there should be a kids friendly surface UI if Windows is what the new XO laptop users will use. It may or may not be Sugar, but simplified launcher-type thing, perhaps.

And, what is the purpose of education? To prepare kids for the industrial office work? I don't think so.

@Civilian : I think that's a great idea. Making audio and video recordings on the XO is a LOT easier than XP.

How much "speed" will be lost to virii/malware/spyware and/or tools to prevent them?

My favorite part of the video was when James suggested that a teacher share files via a USB key -- because passing one around, inserting, copying, removing, passing on... won't take a full class session itself.

Two links on the desktop: AMCap and ACPIV -- any ideas what those are? Google says AMCap is a videoconferencing tool; and ACPIV could refer to power management maybe? (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface = ACPI)

I was trying to see what was in the systray; it looked like the text/language toolbar, 4 icons and the time; I presume the icons included a volume and a wifi connection, leaving 2 unknown; but the colors didn't look right for Symantec or AVG anti-virus, maybe McAfee...?

I have two initial comments, one is that comparing a 90sec( current XO boot ) to a 50 sec Windows boot is not a 4 times faster boot. Or they use some funny math there at Microsoft. The other observation is that this "video" is a very well done production and something done over a period of time and not likely a short period of time. I say this because if you look at the section where he does the video capture, the recorded video of him waving does not have the poster on the wall behind him. The "live" shot where he waves his hand does have the poster behind him. There is nothing wrong with this just that we can not really trust much of what is there as a real world example of how well Windows XP on the XO works. Microsoft was found to use video production techniques in their DOJ vs MS court case trying to prove how easy it was to install Netscape Navigator over a dialup connection and insisted it was all done on one computer but after being pressured and shown evidence refuting that, they confessed it to have been a production to prove their point and not as originally stated. So even in court, they tried to produce evidence to state what they thought the audience should see. We just can't trust this as much more than advertising.

Regarding dual-boot, that is something Microsoft has viciously prevented computer manufacturers from doing. It does not surprise me to find that this is not being allowed on the XO without reason. For instance, they could have said it took 3 GB to get Windows on there and required the 1GB of onboard flash with a standard 2GB additional SD card. But they have shown that marketing is king and keeping the ability to easily have Linux and Sugar boot is something they will not allow their customers to have the option to do.

So is the OLPC project cheerfully refunding donations now that it has just become a shill for Microsoft? Those donations could go to worthwhile, successful projects like kdeedu, etc.
A year to get XP to boot off a SD card? It took me about 1 hour to get Mandriva Linux to boot off a SD(HC) card on my EeePC.

Yes. Negroponte I would like my donation back now.

What a joke.

XO + Linux/Sugar = Education.
XO + XP = Just another cheap (and underpowered) laptop.

There are already enough zombie networks in the World.
At least Sugar has Bitfrost.

What will Microsoft use?

No more G1G1 scam for me. Where can I get my refund ?

I have the OLPC, and its so slow its almost unusable. The XP on this machine seems to run dramatically faster :-(

This is the first time I see Linux running slower than Windows on the same platform.

Its either Microsoft "upgraded" the internals of the demo machine, or it looks like the OLPC development team just made some terrible engineering mistakes.

The second option looks more real...

"I'm opening Microsoft Sound Recorder now, testing testing testing" after digging through three levels of menus I think just about sums it up. Windows XP is bad even as a desktop operating system; as a system for school children, it's a joke.

There's one thing Windows XP on these machines does accomplish: adults are much more likely to take the machines away from their kids to use them for adult stuff.

Keep the faith...

Just go on developing a good free OS on the OLPC.
Don't remember that funny things on Windows ?

Your all time favorite: lost documents / Blue Screens
Just wonder what the next thing is ?
"Serious offers" of ladies in chat ?
Oh and i forgot maybe a "light" version of MS Wallet for kids.
So they can learn for life...

Schools then will have lots of OLPCs running and a need to back up the data of the childs so i guess MS will include a "One Button" Solution for Backup / Restore if of course you use Windows Server.

The OS Team should take one step only change the program if people will use XP on the OLPC they buy one and must give 10 to compensate the damage done to world.

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