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Microsoft Hardware

Microsoft Looking to Run Windows on OLPC 392

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the one-thousand-dollar-laptop-program dept.
pete314 writes "Microsoft has been provided with a number of test models of Nicholas Negroponte's One Laptop per Child computers and is trying to get Windows installed on them. The current design runs a custom version of Red Hat's Fedora Linux. Running Windows will take quite a bit of additional memory: the OLPC has 512Mb of Flash, where XP requires a minimum of 1.5Gb storage."
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Microsoft Looking to Run Windows on OLPC

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  • Open Spurce? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by goldseries (932320) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @05:22AM (#17110854) Journal
    I thought the OLPC project had definativly decided to be open source so that no company would have control.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      What happened to "I should be free to run whatever I like on my devices"?
      • Re:Open Spurce? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ArsenneLupin (766289) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @06:07AM (#17111096)

        What happened to "I should be free to run whatever I like on my devices"?
        You are free to install whatever you like on your laptop once you got it.


        However, the article here talks about what is pre-installed. And for the pre-installed OS, price is a criterion (in order not to exceed the $100 target price), as is hardware capabilities (again, fitting more memory would make it too expensive).

        • Re:Open Spurce? (Score:5, Informative)

          by zootm (850416) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @06:37AM (#17111258)

          However, the article here talks about what is pre-installed.

          To be fair, it only says that Microsoft want to "make [Windows] available" on the device, not pre-install it. There's no indication whatsoever in the article that Microsoft want to pre-install it, although one could obviously speculate that they'd like to sell units with Windows pre-installed to governments, this is not mentioned in the article.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by BiggyP (466507)
            It's odd that MS have any interest in the laptops at all, having previously attacked the devices as laughable, underpowed, etc.
            • by j35ter (895427) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @10:21AM (#17112666)
              *Balmer dreams:* Imagine a world where every single child in the 3rd. world has a windows machine with visual studio preinstalled and is learning .NET programming!
              Imagine a *billion* developers working for 20 Cents per hour!
              Imagine us (M$) developing Vista(tm)2 for under 2000 Bucks....
              *Balmer wakes up*...
              Oh no! They will have Linux on their OLPC's
              *dials Microsoft R&D*...Hello, Steve here...no, forget Vista stability, get a few OLPC's and load up windows on them...512MB??!?
              well, throw out some of the garbage, they wont pay for it anyway.
              • Re:Open Spurce? (Score:5, Insightful)

                by mrchaotica (681592) * on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @11:28AM (#17113426)
                Oh no! They will have Linux on their OLPC'

                You were being funny, but you're right. Microsoft cares about this for exactly one reason: giving kids Free Software is a threat.

          • by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot.kadinNO@SPAMxoxy.net> on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @10:00AM (#17112464) Homepage Journal
            To be fair, it only says that Microsoft want to "make [Windows] available" on the device, not pre-install it.

            Here's my theory: MS wants to create a version of Windows for these devices, which it can let out into the wild, where it will be relentlessly pirated. They hope that the first thing that people do with their shiny new OLPC is zap the Linux install and dump Windows XP Micro (or whatever) on there instead -- even if it's pirated. It may not make them any money immediately, but it might give them a future customer, or at least prevent someone from growing up as a Linux user.

            Or maybe, rather than relying on piracy, they could co-opt governments and teachers as a way of forcing Windows down onto students' computers. They'd "give" "free" copies of Windows (taking it as a charitable contribution no doubt) to schools, along with some sort of incentive package. Maybe a free 'real PC' for the teacher, running a full version of Windows. It would have educational software on it, but in order to be useful, all the students would need to be running the Windows OLPC version. So they can effectively leverage schools to use their power to eliminate Linux and replace it with Windows, even if Windows is less functional for the students themselves. All they have to do is make it a sweet enough looking deal for the government or administration, which they can easily do by making it look like a substantial "gift" on paper -- even though most of that dollar value will be in software. A "free" $99 copy of Windows has to be better than a $0 copy of Linux, right?

            I had more hopes for OLPC when Microsoft was just ignoring it. Microsoft's attentions are like the Eye of Sauron -- you really don't want it resting on you for any length of time, and when it does, it probably means something bad is going to happen.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by DragonWriter (970822)

            There's no indication whatsoever in the article that Microsoft want to pre-install it, although one could obviously speculate that they'd like to sell units with Windows pre-installed to governments, this is not mentioned in the article.

            Both Microsoft and Apple made offers aimed at being the "bundled" OS on the OLPC. Both were rejected for, among other reasons, the licensing terms which they were willing to offer. (IIRC, the Windows version Microsoft proposed would have been a special version of WinCE, whic

        • Re:Open Spurce? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by mrchaotica (681592) * on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @11:26AM (#17113394)
          and for the pre-installed OS, price is a criterion (in order not to exceed the $100 target price)

          Wrong! Price is irrelevant; the only consideration is that the device must be hackable by the user. The developers of the OLPC are insisting on Free Software specifically because they want the kids to have the four freedoms [gnu.org]; no more, no less.

          By the way, if you don't believe me consider this: the OLPC people rejected Mac OS X even when it was offered for free (i.e., zero cost).

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by madcow_bg (969477)
        I don't think that having Linux on them is prohibiting installing Windows. You just may not have enough memory for the last one, but that's the life. It's the 100$, not the 1000$ PC.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        What happened to "I should be free to run whatever I like on my devices"?

        It never worked that way. Neither my old P600 or my C64 have enough RAM to run Vista. Nor CPU power for that matter.

        No computer comes with enough RAM or the correct CPU to run whatever OS one prefers. PPC Macs won't run Windows, PCs won't run z/OS, and so on. This machine is made specifically to have the lowest possible cost, and that is done by using the cheapest components available that will still run a useable OS and applications.
    • by mwvdlee (775178)
      I think Nicholas Negroponte is just having a little fun at the expense of MicroSoft.
      Oh, what a glorious day it shall be when MS has to admit their OS it too bloated and slow to compete with Linux.
      I think MicroSoft's best bet at success would be a heavily stripped down version of Windows CE.
      • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

        by MichaelSmith (789609)
        I think Nicholas Negroponte is just having a little fun at the expense of MicroSoft.

        But this is the second iteration of window-on-olpc. The last one was about a year ago. Presumably NN wants some charity from the Gates Foundation to help boost the project.

      • You don't understand Nicholas Negroponte, then. He's no particular friend of F/OSS, except as a mechanism for getting free labor for the OLPC project.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by logicnazi (169418)
          Nor should he be.

          I'm a big fan of FOSS in general but concerns about free code, open standards and the like are first world luxuries that really aren't important compared to getting these people better lives. If I could take a whole african country out of poverty in return for shutting down the copyleft lliscenses all together I would do it despite how much it would suck for me.

          • Re:Open Spurce? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by orasio (188021) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @08:41AM (#17111912) Homepage

            Nor should he be.
             
            I'm a big fan of FOSS in general but concerns about free code, open standards and the like are first world luxuries that really aren't important compared to getting these people better lives. If I could take a whole african country out of poverty in return for shutting down the copyleft lliscenses all together I would do it despite how much it would suck for me.
             
             
            You don't sound very bright with that reasoning.
            Copyright issues do harm actual people.
            I live in Uruguay, and while now the economy is improving, we had a big recession, so we can't afford to waste money.

            Our government agencies use Microsoft software almost exclusively for their desktops, and a lot for development. They have great lock-in, and it's very difficult to even propose a change.
            The DGI (our version of the IRS) requires the use of a .NET app for bussiness taxes declaration. That means that bussinesses need to buy at least one windows license.

            Proprietary software has consequences down the line, it's not just a thing of abstract freedom. The freedom we could have with free software

            That is an added tax on the people themselves, and that's millions of dollars that leave the country, instead of being invested here.
            We are a third world country, although probably near the top of that heap. Proprietary software is one of the many anchors that keeps us down. If we could make all the software free, we could be spending licenses money in our own capable software people, and the rest, in social programs, that are still very lacking here.
        • Re:Open Spurce? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Kuukai (865890) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @06:07AM (#17111094) Journal
          You don't understand Nicholas Negroponte, then. He's no particular friend of F/OSS, except as a mechanism for getting free labor for the OLPC project.
          It seems amazing to me that you could pick up a hammer, use it to do things that are damn near impossible with your hands, and formulate no opinion on the value of hammers in the process. It's a basic part of human learning. This must be why this project is taking so damned long...
          • Re:Open Spurce? (Score:4, Interesting)

            by paeanblack (191171) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @11:34AM (#17113522)
            It seems amazing to me that you could pick up a hammer, use it to do things that are damn near impossible with your hands, and formulate no opinion on the value of hammers in the process. It's a basic part of human learning. This must be why this project is taking so damned long...

            Negroponte is avoiding the kiss of death for charities: getting involved in the open market.

            For example, imagine you are running the Red Cross, MSF, Salvation Army, or some other large charity that does large amounts of shipping. You may look at Exxon-Mobil's record profits and think, "this is insane...we're lining the pockets of this company's shareholders with money that could otherwise be helping the needy. Our mission burns tons of fuel, but there must be a better way." To fix this you start investing capital in your own not-for-profit private fuel suppliers, just to keep the costs in-house. A little later you look back and realize your suppliers are horridly inefficient because they never had to answer to the open market, all your working capital is tied up in wells, refineries, pipelines, and tankers, and your bureaucracy nightmare puts most banana republics to shame.

            This example is excessive, but it demonstrates the simple trap of a good idea ("Lets feed the needy, not Big Oil Inc.") becoming a living hell ("Why are we drilling for oil in Greenland instead of feeding the needy?"). Charities constantly make this mistake on a smaller scale, especially in the printing, mailing, and call-center businesses. The siren-call of "let's keep this in-house" is so tempting, it's hard to realize it's the same as signing an exclusive contract with a supplier that has no competition and no experience.

            Negroponte doesn't really care what operating system ends up on the OLPC, so long as it meets requirements. He does want to avoid getting into the operating system business.

            Negroponte only cares about the nail getting pounded in. If you can do it cheaper with a different tool, you're hired.

            Negroponte doesn't care about the hammer.
      • by Moraelin (679338) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @06:19AM (#17111150) Journal
        Oh, what a glorious day it shall be when MS has to admit their OS it too bloated and slow to compete with Linux.


        You might be a tad disappointed then.

        Believe it or not, there are plenty of versions of Windows, including Windows Embedded and Windows CE, which run in a lot less RAM and reside on a lot less Flash. And even from the "normal" XP, there are a _lot_ of things which can be removed without the end user noticing much.

        Sure, at that point you can still do the retarded thing and go "ha ha, so the full install didn't fit and they had to strip it down", but may I point out that the average Linux distro is even bigger than the full XP? SuSE Linux for example (to use an example from everyone's favourite, Novell) comes on a DVD or more than half a dozen CDs. Compressed. So that wouldn't fit there either.

        As for slow, I don't know where you get your data from, but comparing my gaming XP box to my SuSE Linux 10.0 box, XP actually boots faster, and the GUI is quite a bit more responsive than X with either KDE or Gnome too.

        I think MicroSoft's best bet at success would be a heavily stripped down version of Windows CE.

        It might come as a surprise, but some of the devices running Windows CE actually have less RAM and ROM/Flash than an OLPC. So why would MS need to strip it down?

        So please, let's cut it down on the arrogant-fanboy-disconnected-from-reality act. MS does have a lot of faults, but being stupid isn't one of them. They _do_ employ some of the best programmers, and can (and do) throw ridiculous amounts of money at a problem, if they really want to. And both Windows and compilers are something they have two decades of experience with.

        They already know how to compile something for size instead of unrolling and inlining everything for performance. It's not like they have yet to discover "wow, there's this 'size' option in the compile options of MSVC."

        And they already have the experience with porting and stripping Windows to a variety of platforms. They actually used to have NT versions for pretty much everything including RISC and a few other architectures. The XBox 360 itself isn't an Intel machine either. And there even was a version of CE that ran on the Dreamcast.

        The only question is whether they want to, exactly what they want to do there, and how much effort do they want to put into a computer whose price would more than double if they actually sold a Windows OEM license with it.

        Then again, they already know how to play the fake-charity card by giving away a 50 cent CD and counting it as the price of a full Windows license generously donated. (In addition to some real charity too, it must be said.) So they could just give away a locked down version of Windows to some kids who otherwise couldn't afford a Windows computer anyway, thus ensuring that a whole generation in those countries grows on Windows and Windows Media Player formats. It's good marketting. _And_ write it off a some hundreds of millions of dollars in Windows licenses generously donated to the poor countries.

        On the whole, I wouldn't be surprised if the effort right now isn't getting Windows installed, but figuring out how best to lock it down and how much and what bait they can build into it.
        • by Gheesh (191858) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @07:11AM (#17111468) Homepage Journal

          Sure, at that point you can still do the retarded thing and go "ha ha, so the full install didn't fit and they had to strip it down", but may I point out that the average Linux distro is even bigger than the full XP? SuSE Linux for example (to use an example from everyone's favourite, Novell) comes on a DVD or more than half a dozen CDs. Compressed. So that wouldn't fit there either.

          May I point out that the average Linux distro you mention comes with one or more of each of these: word processor, presentation manager, spreadsheet, graphics manipulation software, HTTP and FTP server, development tools, CD&DVD burning software, IRC client, P2P,... Please tell me where can you find a Windows XP DVD that includes all of these on the base install and for the same price, because the OS on its own doesn't have much use for me.

          • by db32 (862117) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @07:38AM (#17111580) Journal
            Thank you! Wish I had a mod point right now. That is one of the most irritating and clueless arguments I have ever heard, and I hear it frequently. "Look your linux install takes up WAY more space than my XP install" or "Your linux comes on a huge DVD or CD set". Well thats great son, but I also have every application I need installed, quite a few bells and whistles to tinker with when I'm bored, and a compiler (shock, gasp, you can actually compile real programs on a PC without magic software company magic machines) among other things. Oh yes the pain, oh dear lord a single huge DVD that carries my OS and all relevant apps that I may need in one place instead of a giant software folder of some couple dozen disks and serial numbers and registration cards and activation codes.

            My other favorite is the "see distro XYZ costs this much, you can buy an OEM windows for $X or an upgrade disk for $Y less dollars". After reading what is either a troll or MS fanboy response I'm surprised that one didn't get tossed out there too.
          • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @07:42AM (#17111600) Homepage Journal
            If Windows is installed on the OLPC laptops, then we'll have to also get antivirus, anti-spyware, anti-adware and perhaps a few system recovery apps. There will also have to be a Windows key on the keyboard, which in my view, may be a stopper right there.

            I am afraid that if OLPC machines are distributed throughout the Third World and Windows is the OS, we may see a global conflagration. We better be prepared to train a few million of the world's poorest people to be Support Techs. Microsoft might be willing to donate a few million MSCE training DVDs.

            If we took the cost of the Iraq War for six months, we might be able to improve these folks' situation enough that in a year or two they could afford to buy their own PC parts from Tiger Direct and put it together themselves, just like God intended.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by blowdart (31458)

              If Windows is installed on the OLPC laptops, then we'll have to also get antivirus, anti-spyware, anti-adware and perhaps a few system recovery apps. There will also have to be a Windows key on the keyboard, which in my view, may be a stopper right there.

              Why? If they're using XP Embedded or CE then the OS is held in ROM/NVRAM. It's fixed, it can't be over written, so the only system recovery app needed is a full reset. OK sure, spyware and viruses could install, but they would be running in user space f

          • I can put one together for you, windows xp install is only around 300M when all is stripped down (no extra languages, no "upgrade from windows 9x", etc) office 2003 is equally small, when the fat is trimmed, as for other bits and pieces, apache last time i looked wasn't huge, neither is ws-ftp server, nero, mirc (yeah, its so huge you just had to mention it), p2p (again, non issue so far as space on install media goes, then of course enough room for drivers, lots of drivers, drivers for EVERYTHING.

            All your comments go to show that you only ever look at a single OS. I build computers (piece of piss job, yeah i know, but i enjoy it) and windows (XP and the PE), linux and openBSD all play a part of the common install procedure.

            The world is big enough for more than one OS ^_^
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by db32 (862117)
              The world is a very large place, an OLPC laptop isn't. :)

              I still remember a story about one of those nice folks in Africa trying to spread the wealth of computing to the poor asking MS if they would support. They would...if he agreed to allow them to slap their name all over the thing and parade it around as a huge PR thing, and for doing this they would "donate" a bunch of MS Office stuff. Unfortunately by the time all was said and done it would cost him an order of magnitude more in funding to make us
        • Just one thing I'd like to nitpick... You can't really compare an install of XP (full or minimal) to one of a Linux distro, because the distro isn't just an OS and it's basic support programs: Those 5 or 6 CDs contain *thousands* of programs that would let you build a box for almost any imaginable purpose (and you'd probably end up mortgaging your house to pay for all their commercial equivalents). If we want to compare stripped-down OSes, what's the bare minimum of a usable Linux box? A bootloader, kernel, /bin/sh, maybe 1MB of stuff from /bin. I've seen a kernel-mode video driver/GUI combo that fits in 60K somewhere.

          But still - excellent post. I'd agree that it's not as much about windows as it is about getting people addicted to MS's proprietary formats. Remember: A flaw in WMP's DRM resulted in a one of MS's fastest-ever patches, pushed out with emergency priority IIRC.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Hal_Porter (817932)
          The only question is whether they want to, exactly what they want to do there, and how much effort do they want to put into a computer whose price would more than double if they actually sold a Windows OEM license with it.

          They've already offered free Windows licenses for OLPC. I think it's a OLPC is a bit like Netscape, they basically want a product to compete with it, even if they don't see any money for the forseeable future. More generously, the Gates foundation pays billions to charity, and free Windows
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Orange Crush (934731)

          Sure, at that point you can still do the retarded thing and go "ha ha, so the full install didn't fit and they had to strip it down", but may I point out that the average Linux distro is even bigger than the full XP? SuSE Linux for example (to use an example from everyone's favourite, Novell) comes on a DVD or more than half a dozen CDs. Compressed. So that wouldn't fit there either.

          Everyone's already pointed out that SuSE, the entirety of Debian, etc. are only that big because they toss in everything but

      • by zootm (850416)

        I think MicroSoft's best bet at success would be a heavily stripped down version of Windows CE.

        Stripped down? Have you seen the devices that CE can run on? If anything, I can imagine they'd need to bulk out CE to bring it up to the feature-set offered by the stripped-down Red Hat being run on the OLPC at present.

    • I find this turn of events somewhat surprising, given Gates' rather contemptuous, puerile comments [slashdot.org] in the past.
    • by arun_s (877518)
      TFA mentions a Netevents conference in Hong Kong where Negroponte made this statement. The link to the events sheet is here [netevents.org], and the transcript of the interview is here [netevents.org] (Warning: DOC link).

      In one of the last questions, he has this to say about microsoft's past criticisms:

      "So when I read in the press, including some remarks from Bill, about "Geeze, get a real computer". Rubbish. This is a real computer. And even though it's not instant on at the moment, it will be instant on, instant off. How long doe

  • by OrangeTide (124937) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @05:23AM (#17110864) Homepage Journal
    Why wouldn't they just try to run some variant of Windows Fundamentals [microsoft.com] on them?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by smithfarm (862287)
      Quoting from the URL you cited: "[Windows Fundamentals] allows for a limited number of workloads to be executed locally, including security software, management software, terminal emulation software, document viewers, and the .NET Framework."

      Document viewers aside, those don't sound like applications that schoolchildren in poor Third World countries would want to run.

  • Why don't they run Windows 2000 on them?!? Wouldn't that use less memory?!? It seems stable enough to run (I still run Win2K, I used to run XP), and perfect for the OLPC systems, though M$ wants it to run the latest OS, bloody EG0's.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Phil246 (803464)
      Were that the case, they would be trying to put vista on it.
      In such an event, I dont exactly fancy their chances ;)
    • The article seems to be speculating that they are trying to run XP. However, there are no quotes regarding this.

      Heck, is there any reason they couldn't run windows 98se on this thing? Does windows 98 have support for wireless internet? They could just rename it Windows OLPC and install a lightweight firewall.
      • Does Windows 98 have any support at all? MS are hardly going to resurrect a dead OS just to stick it on some cheap laptops. After all, it's not just a case of "here's the disc, get on with it" - they actually have to support, provide critical fixes etc.
        • Except linux on the OLPC doesn't have any official support either. Win 98 support just expired June of this year. I don't know much about how windows 98 compares to XP for vulnerabilities, but it seems the biggest problem is that MS will want to stick IE on there, and the latest IE can only be installed on XP and possibly 2000, meaning either they are stuck with firefox (unlikely) or IE6 (which is riddled with bugs).

          If they can get the OLPC running with windows 98 and a firewall and not have it be an instan
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Why don't they run Windows 2000 on them?!?
      Because even naked heathen savages in bongo-bongo land know it's shit.
  • A trap? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Metteyya (790458) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @05:25AM (#17110876)
    Bundled with level of corruption in OLPC-buying countries it seems pretty scary.
  • Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by iamdrscience (541136) <michaelmtripp AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @05:28AM (#17110890) Homepage
    The author of the article (and slashdot) quote the disk space required for XP, but why wouldn't they use XP embedded on a device like this? According to Wikipedia XP Embedded only needs "32MB Compact Flash, 32MB RAM" [wikipedia.org]. They should be able to get it running even without using the SD expansion slot (although that certainly wouldn't hurt).
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by toadlife (301863)

      "The author of the article (and slashdot) quote the disk space required for XP, but why wouldn't they use XP embedded on a device like this?"
      The biggest critics of Windows tend to be the least informed about it.
    • by DrYak (748999) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @07:22AM (#17111514) Homepage
      Windows XPe, as the wikipedia entry at which you point [wikipedia.org] says, is a componentized version of Windows. By striping out components, you can reduce it to the bare minimum - just the strict minimum needed to run Win 32 API with the specific drivers needed for such hardware.
      And that's where the problem is : Once you've crammed Windows XP inside 32MB of flash, what do you do ?

      According to the entry, Win XPe is mostly used for embed device. The kind of device on which you run one single function-specific application, and Win XPe is only here to provide kernel functionnality.
      You can use it in ATMs in which case WinXPe is only here to provide a kernel, a graphics driver, an input driver and a network stack. And all you run next to it is a single application that does all the ATM stuff. And nothing else.
      Robotics is another even better exemple. Sure it can be cramed into 32MB : because, all you need is a kernel to provide a communication stack and memory management. There's even no display and regular HID devices.

      Compared to the Linux world, that's akin to having a system with only a striped down Kernel (with only a couple of necessary drivers compiled in), busybox (to provide all the necessary tools with minimal foot-print) and a micro C-lib and nothing more. All of which you run along a few simplified server inside a router. It's something you could run on This kind of boards [acmesystems.it].

      *BUT* that's *NOT* what the OLPC needs. The OLPC needs to provide a full desktop environment. They a GUI. The need a desktop. They need application to browse the PC, they need graphical wizards to connect to the WiFi mesh. They need a browser, they need a mail clients, and mayber IRC and/or IM too. They need software to display ebooks. They need an office suite that covers most functionality that the kids need to write their own stuff. They need various developing environment (classical C/C++, scripts like Python or Perl, maybe web scripting like PHP) because, all OLPC was initially about was to encourage the kids to hack. Maybe also some multimedia apps.
      Not just a single application.

      Does this exist on WinXPe ? Yes because it's fully compatible with it's older brother, WinXP Pro. You have plenty of microsoft apps already available that could provide such functionality : Windows Desktop, Explorer, IE7, Outlook express, MSN, XForm viewer, Office, Visual Studio, .NET Framework, ASP.NET, IIS, Media Player.
      But can it all get crammed together inside the OLPC ? Hell no. You'll need a rather beefy setup with eleventeen gazillions of gigabytes just to install this madness. (And that's all functionnality most non-custom Linux distros offer out of the box for a foot-print of only a few gigs).

      What the OLPC needs isn't the Microsoft equivalent of an embed linux. What it needs is something similar to Damn Small Linux [damnsmalllinux.org] (or, I guess, what the current customized Red Hat is), id est : most desktop functionnality crammed inside a small space of only a few dozens of MB. *Not* GB.
      And thats something WinXPe fails to provide. It only provides the envrionment (kernel, etc.) not all the apps.

      If they want to cram WinXPe inside, the would have to put along specialized applications. Applications that already exists in the open-source world, do the needed task nicely, but are NOT made by Microsoft. I would be mostly like just replacing the kernel on the customized Linux distro with a Windows Kernel, and keeping the same apps. And admitting defeat, that they can't provide a fully microsoft alternative.

      The closest thing Microsoft could provide is a Windows CE-based solution (and Pocket- / -CE version of office, IE, etc...). And then again it won't be optimal for them because :
      - Win CE still lacks some functionality that is granted on Linux (hackability, programming and scripting tools in standard with a tiny memory foot print).
      -
      • by vhogemann (797994) <victor AT hogemann DOT com> on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @08:25AM (#17111806) Homepage
        I can point other HUGE problem regarding Windows on OLPC:

        - Lack of OPEN developer tools

        If OLPC ships with Windows, any potential developer will be forced to use Microsoft tools... and it means being forced to Microsoft Windows and Visual Studio.

        IIRC Steve Jobs offered MacOSX to Negroponte, and he refused it unless Acqua and Coccoa could be made OpenSource. Because otherwise developers would be tied to MacOSX and XCode.

        Today OLPC runs Linux, true. But Sugar(OLPC interface and SDK) it's nothing more than GTK+Python, both free and avaliable on every major Desktop OS out there. It may be easier to kickstart the development on Linux, but nothing stops you from using Windows, MacOSX or *BSD to develop for it.

        OLPC is a community project, and it needs the community to be able to succeed. This means developers too, closed tools or tools that are tied to one specific platform limit who can contribute to the project with code.

        Just my $0.02
  • by ZDRuX (1010435) * on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @05:36AM (#17110942)
    Won't someone PLEASE think of the children? Ohhh, looks like Microsoft is.
  • Just sick (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ZeroExistenZ (721849) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @05:37AM (#17110948)
    This is Microsoft wanting to get a grip of a future potential market, and locking them in. That's what this is all about; before you know it they get slapped with activating their laptops, DRM-enabled features and what not.

    I really hope the OLPC-project wont get seduced by the money Microsoft is willing to put into this, it wont pay off in the long run.

    It's clear Microsoft wants to do anything to stop alternatives from spreading; just imagine a future where these OLPCs have sprouted a whole new generation of Linux developers who now write code to feed themselves instead. But they don't know Windows, and Microsoft has an entire continent of PC users who they cannot sell licenses to, while they're writing their own applications building further on an alternative to Microsoft.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by jaspeers (550101)

      This is a charitable organization we're talking about here. Bill Gates is possibly the most generous philanthropist on the planet. Whatever you may think of his business tactics, the thought of DRM and activation on these cheap little devices made for the third world is just plain silly. The thought that Gates wants to use this little laptop to take over the rest of the world doesn't pass the laugh test.

      I'm not a MS shill. I'm worse than that. I'm a Mac guy. I just think the picture you're painting i

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dave420 (699308)
      Why not hold your judgement until you know what's actually going on? That way you won't look quite so childish. Saying it's "just sick" shows how emotionally bent out of shape you're able to get just over a mention of MS, regardless of knowing what they're actually doing. That's not objective. That helps no-one. What if MS was actually good for those kids? What if, and this is just an example (before you try to commit suicide over MS being hypothetically portrayed in positive light), they got more ben
  • by arun_s (877518) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @05:39AM (#17110962) Homepage Journal
    What happens when thousands of these laptops are connected to the internet by little kids with no prior experience? What next, install AVG, Spybot, and the rest before distribution? Teach kids about spyware, bots and viruses before they even learn how to browse?
    • by Mr. Hankey (95668)
      I doubt they'd install a regular version of XP on there, it would have to be locked down pretty well security wise for this type of system (which is as it should be anyway.) I'm no Microsoft fan, but if they're willing to provide the software for free then at least they're doing something for the OLPC effort. I doubt the systems will end up running Windows out of the box, but it can't hurt to give the owners of the OLPC systems a choice later on. We do after all have this choice on our computers.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by porkThreeWays (895269)
        You'd think it would be locked down. But tell that to my windows mobile based phone that got a virus and started randomly calling people in my contacts list!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by morie (227571)
      With Fedora on it and the OLPC's distributed throughout the world, someone will get the idea to release a virus/worm sooner or later for this.

      It may even be the beginning of Linux virus trouble taking off seriously.
  • Prediction (Score:5, Funny)

    by iamdrscience (541136) <michaelmtripp AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @05:39AM (#17110964) Homepage
    I bet Microsoft gets together a version of Windows for OLPC and then offers it to OLPC users for free or next to nothing. That's how it works, they give you the first copy free and then you get hooked -- pretty soon you're turning tricks in the alley just to get the security updates. I've seen it a thousand times.
  • Windows Mobile 2003 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by clickety6 (141178) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @05:40AM (#17110968)
    If they can fit Windows on a Pocket PC device, some suitable modification of this might work on the OLPC PC. Pocket PCS between 32 to 128 MBytes of RAM and 32+ MBytes of ROM so would fit nicely. Remove the touch screen functionality, add some keyboard and other minimum functionality needed and you should still be well within the memory requirements.
  • by BlackPignouf (1017012) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @05:44AM (#17110986)
    512Mb graphics memory is exactly what Vista needs to run properly!
    Oh, wait a minute...
  • If all you had to do was install a fresh copy of XP on the machines then MS wouldn't need to do any work in porting the system to OLPC. Almost certainly by cutting out inessential features MS could reduce the memory demands for XP significantly, though given Mc's notorious interdependence problems perhaps not enough. But this is why MS has a specialized mobile OS just for this sort of problem.

    Sure OLPC is inclined to go with a FOSS solution and has some good justifications for doing so but I don't see how
    • by Phroggy (441) *

      Sure OLPC is inclined to go with a FOSS solution and has some good justifications for doing so but I don't see how they in good conscience could refuse an offer from MS to pay for some *huge* number of the laptops complete with a guarantee of a free version of windows for all the OLPC machines.

      This may be a difficult concept for some people to wrap their heads around, but maybe Microsoft's software isn't better than what they're already planning on using. It doesn't matter how much it costs if the software sucks.

    • by value_added (719364) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @06:58AM (#17111414)
      Whatever I might think of the technical and design features of MS software it does get the job done not to mention it's extreme ubiquity means that knowing how to use windows is a more useful skill than knowing how to use some random other interface.

      So you're suggesting that the under-developed world should similarly spawn generations of clueless lusers who "know" the interface (to the degree any interface today is substantively different from another) and measure their knowledge in terms of how fast they can can click and point, or memorising what, by default, is listed on the menus?

      Hopefully more companies start taking a long term view of things and donating their products to the third world to prepare for when they become consumers.

      Indeed. So the goal of the potent learning tool [designed so that] the emerging world can leapfrog decades of development--immediately transforming the content and quality of their children's learning [laptop.org] is to enable them to become consumers? Dunno about you, but I tend to be optimistic when it comes to kids, and trust in the belief that, given the chance, they could grow up to become anything. My guess is that if you asked a randomly-selected child targetted by this program what they want to be when they grow up, they might say something like astronaut, or scientist. Aspiring to become an office drone, or a consumer, happens only at a later age, when you've forgotten your own potential or settled for something less.

      Sorry to sound so critical, but your argument has taken Teach a Man to Fish, and reduced it to Teach a Man to Recognise a Fish, and then reduced even further to Teach a Man How to Buy a Fish with his Credit Card. Computers are an increasingly large part of our daily lives. Maybe we should be encouraging people to actually learn something about them and the world they're creating around us, to say nothing of what else is freely available? Or at least give them the opportunity.

      As for the article, I'm not surprised, but that doesn't mean I'm any less disturbed by a monopoly with a living history of crushing anything and everything that threatens its bottom line becoming involved with a project that offers freedom and knowledge. Then, again, that monopoly is chaired by a philanthropist, so now worries, right?
  • by OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @05:53AM (#17111032) Homepage
    As long as it has a programming language included, and a course on how to use it (Basic has lots of open courses available ... and I kinda don't think C++ would be very appropriate :-p)
  • by saterdaies (842986) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @05:55AM (#17111036)
    As much as I hate Windows, I think it's unfair to imply that it requires so much more than Linux does. I've installed Fedora before and it isn't small - definitely not small enough to fit on a 512MB footprint. But RedHat altered it so that it would require less. Likewise, Microsoft could alter Windows to require less. The big difference is that anyone has the right to alter Linux whereas Microsoft is the only one that can do that for Windows.
    • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
      There is no one Linux. Puppy Linux is just as much Linux as Fedora. By contrast, a stripped version of Windows is a stripped down version of Windows, not the real thing.
    • by dylan_- (1661)
      I think it's unfair to imply that it requires so much more than Linux does. I've installed Fedora before and it isn't small - definitely not small enough to fit on a 512MB footprint
      I believe this is incorrect: a Fedora minimal install is around 300MB.
  • Noooo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by robzon (981455) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @06:14AM (#17111128) Homepage
    I can't quite imagine how this would work. Windows is a much harder OS to maintain in the long run. All this virus, spyware and adware crap - those poor kids' lives are bad enough without it.
    Besides that, I don't trust MS's intentions. I bet they are now working on how to squeeze some money out of this in the future. This is not exactly what I've expected from OLPC.
  • by ehack (115197) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @06:25AM (#17111188) Journal
    Win 95 would be very happy with 512MB. So would CE, I guess.

    But the real question is why has Linux got so bloated ? When I started using Redhat, it ran very well in 16MB, with X. At the time Linux the system you installed to revive your obsolete PC with 4MB of RAM. And you could recompile your kernel with those 4MB of RAM. Now that Linus has moved to making multiprocessor kernels, you'de better buy an up to date machine to install any current distro.

    I can't wait for OLPC, because the necessity for supporting it will mean the resurgence of a slimware distro.
    • There are still some slim ones, eg DSL and puppylinux. I think that you can also optimise gentoo quite easily for small size.
    • by waferhead (557795)
      ALmost modded you up, but feel I must agree in text.

      I remember running Slackware _and_ X11 on a WHOLE 4Mb, 486DX33 machine, and it rocked.

      I remember upgrading my A3000 to run NetBSD 1.0 and Linux (1.13 (???))
      (tarballs only in those days)

      All systems were smooth and totally usable.

      Having said that, Linux has one major advantage for projects like this:
      It is designed to be modular, and what you don't need can be easily stripped out, even by an advanced user, much less a programmer.

      CE probably has the same abili
    • by namekuseijin (604504) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @06:56AM (#17111404)
      Strip it down. Throw Gnome or KDE and their memory-hungry associated daemons away and put a simple user interface upfront (FluxBox, XFCE), put in a good autonomous file-manager configured to proxy the right files to the right applications, make sure XMMS is fully loaded of plugins and is the only media player (light and lean) and give the kids some GIMP fun. Don't mind putting Apache, MySQL or PostgreSQL in there: kids are not likely to use them. If high-level scripting is really needed to run anything, just chose one out of perl/python/ruby, ok? Run as few services/daemons as possible. Save the memory for the inevitable resource hogs: Firefox (much lower) and OpenOffice (much higher)...

      It'll fly like as if running on a dual-core...
      • hehe, just after posting this i realized why the need for OpenOffice? Do we really want kids to become automatous, office-dwelling creeps at this early age? save them the trouble and just throw a text editor and calculator...

        ah! i guess it's better than Wordpad...
    • by 10Ghz (453478) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @08:30AM (#17111846)

      But the real question is why has Linux got so bloated?
      It didn't. "Back then" you had primitive apps running on primitive GUI, using crappy and ugly icons and graphics. Antialiasing? Hardware that just works when you plug it in? Hah, dream on! Today you have GUI's that are very, very beautiful. The apps are very advanced, the system indexes your hard-drive in the background for instant search, you have 16+ million colors and high resolution AND antialiased fonts. Everything is spell-checked as you type (including text-boxes in websites), Bittorrents are downloading in the background and we have composited shadows and fadeouts. And guess what? All that takes up RAM and CPU-cycles.

      But here's the thing: if you want to, you can turn all that crap off. Instead of GNOME or KDE, use something lighter. Since you are comparing Linux to the "old Linux", why not run FVWM? It's still maintained. Hell, why not run TWM? Also, turn off those antialiased fonts and all those other advanced features we have got over the course of the years. I bet that you will see that Linux runs well on slower hardware, just like it did years ago. The thing that has happened is that 10 years ago Linux-desktops... well, sucked. They ran fast because they were ugly and they didn't really do that much. What you saw was what you got. Today the dominant desktops (KDE & GNOME) are actually very, very good, and they have lots of advanced features and useful services running in the background. And those features need certain amount of horsepower. Don't have that horsepower? Fine, use something lightweight, or switch to CLI. But for some reason people these days seem to have fast enough machines, and they want to run advanced desktops and apps. But you are not REQUIRED to do so.

      If you decide to run a system with all bells and whistles turned on, don't start complaining that "years ago Linux ran fast, today it doesn't! What happened?". What happened was that "years ago" Linux didn't have those "bells and whistles". It does today, but you are not forced to use them. If you do use them, stop your complaining because you are comparing apples and oranges.
  • Like a 'pharmaceutical' dealer or cigarette company they are trying any trick in the play book to extend their 'product'.
    First hit will be free.
    Back end for networking will be free at first.
    Then the small hits start.
    Upgrades. Support costs.
    Before you know it, low cost open source is turned into a revenue stream.
  • As a contributor... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenis@NOSPaM.gmail.com> on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @07:13AM (#17111478) Homepage
    As a OLPC contributor (see this [laptop.org]) and as a friend of an OLPC staffer, I have to say this is a pointless endeavour. The OLPC staff won't use Windows because it's too insecure, and isn't free.

    Remember, they want to send MILLIONS of laptops into the field and avoid downtime caused by viruses, bugs, overflows, etc. The laptops are going to be hardened down quite a bit so even if a user app is exploited the laptop as a whole is still ok. They're using GNU/Linux for more reasons than the fact it costs $0 to license. They have to be able to recover from flaws in the field, of which they want to have precious few of.

    And besides, even if Windows were secure, they would have to give away fully functional copies for FREE to make the budget. Even charging OLPC $1 for the license would hurt the budget ($1 * millions of laptops == no good). In short, there isn't really a "market" here other than trying to expose another generation to inferior software.

    Tom
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      I too find it difficult to believe that even if Windows was free that they'd ever put it on these machines. Hasn't the OLPC programme already made a stance on this sort of thing already, with the rejection of Jobs' free OS X offer? It would seem odd to me if they suddenly made a reversal and stuck Windows on these machines.

      I suspect, as others have already said, that we're talking about Microsoft offering a version of Windows for the laptop, not trying to get it pre-installed.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ThePhilips (752041)

      Even charging OLPC $1 for the license would hurt the budget ($1 * millions of laptops == no good). In short, there isn't really a "market" here other than trying to expose another generation to inferior software.

      Talk with any sales person and he'll tell why you are wrong.

      It's not a matter of license fee - $1 is just like drop in ocean. But. Even if license rounds at $0, you still have to have accounting for them. Accounting == bureaucracy. IOW, in otherwise completely technical company you suddenly

  • I noticed a lot of Red Hat/Fedora books that looked useful on the shelves in Indonesian bookstores when I was there doing tsunami related work last year. I think both OSes would be hard to teach to people who had never been allowed to use a computer before, but I think that linux will be useful in teaching more fundamantal internet skills - creating websites, doing e-mail with text-based MUAs like PINE, using shell accounts. I was lucky to get provisioned with one of the laptops that IBM gave away after th
  • Obsolete the hardware, and rasie the 'hidden costs' before it even gets in the kids hands. Good move, morons.

    Why couldnt they just run embedded XP, if they *really* want to go windows and raise the cost? It isnt that much of a resource hog.
  • by ahfoo (223186) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @07:41AM (#17111598) Journal
    Gates has fallen in love with his born-again persona as a human rights campaigner that he hopes everyone will forget was financed by years as a blood thirsty take-no-prisoners capitalist hun pushing zillions of dollars in license agreements on public school districts, threatening open source projects, patenting protocols, bullying and buying out competitors etc.
              And so now he's so far into his own navel gazing delusion that he thinks XP is a good fit with the OLPC project. Oh wow man, he's just like up there with Ghandi and Jeebuz, aint he? What a joke of a man. It just goes to show you that money is indeed quite like a drug. The dude is HIGH.
              Oh sure, he's the principle funder of the BSA by day but . . but, but by night he's the Poverty Fairy. Whoo.
  • by gelfling (6534) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @08:21AM (#17111774) Homepage Journal
    I have a bunch of routers with Linux based small footprint OS's on them and by small I mean a coupla meg. My print server does too (I think) and my cable modem has an RTOS microkernel. So from the perspective of why would you plunk Windows on an OLPC, the real question is what benefit do you get by bootstrapping Windows to an OLPC in order to take advantage of the applications that you can't get otherwise? Seems to me, we ALREADY have solved the OLPC OS problem - the question now is how many interesting applications can we cram on it.
  • Not a good idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ajs318 (655362) <sd_resp2NO@SPAMearthshod.co.uk> on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @09:03AM (#17112014)
    For the purposes of this project, Open Source is as much a non-negotiable requirement as low power consumption. The intention is to produce a whole generation of computer-literate people. This requires that they have access to the internals, in order to learn to work with the hardware and software. Anything else would just be creating dependency -- and it would be wrong on many levels for the West to try to keep the Third World dependent.

    Of course this means that there will be a whole generation of programmers who will never have known of any development methodology besides Open Source. Isn't that a good thing? Closed Source is no more or less than electronic slavery. Its time -- if it ever had one -- has been and gone.
  • by Dystopian Rebel (714995) * on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @09:58AM (#17112456) Journal
    And I'm not talking about some Redmond VP's income.

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