Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Microsoft's XO Laptop Strategy 242

Posted by Zonk
from the jigga-whaaa dept.
gbulmash writes "Microsoft is spending a 'non-trivial' amount of money to get Windows XP working on the OLPC project's XO laptop. But why? Despite the conjecture that the Linux-based XO could convince millions of people in the developing world that they don't need Windows and build a huge base of developers for Linux, there still remains the question of how Microsoft would convince owners of XO laptops to buy and install Windows XP over the functional Linux-based OS already on it. It's doubtful that Microsoft could encourage or coerce Negroponte to put XP on the machine, so whose arms will they twist?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Microsoft's XO Laptop Strategy

Comments Filter:
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday October 26, 2007 @12:19PM (#21130081) Journal

    Microsoft is spending a 'non-trivial' amount of money to get Windows XP working on the OLPC project's XO laptop. But why?
    I'm going to propose two reasons, both are quite laughable.

    The first is the driving force behind all of Microsoft's actions (and, in fact, almost everyone's): money.

    They are developing this so that people can pay an extra $20 to get XP on the OLPC. I assume they will have to drop the regular license price of $90 to something not one half the cost of the laptop. Well, for common sense reasons and also the fact that it destroys the idea of a cheap laptop for kids.

    The second idea is that they've finally caved. They finally recognized that releasing an XP shell for free (but not open source) will guaranty their survival because it will allow the poor, the desperate & the cheap to still run windows and possibly alleviate piracy. The idealists like us will still use open source but for practicality purposes many will go along with this. Vista will still cost you an arm and a leg but it will be shinier and flashier and souped up compared to this shell of XP. This will also ensure that the children will grow up accustomed to the broken model of Windows and any development they do will be Win32.

    So, I see this as in all likelihood a cross between the two above. They will release Windows XP trimmed down but it will only run if it recognizes the hardware as XO (to prevent you and I from using it to run an MMO only on Windows without the operating system or SVCHost process taking up 30% of my resources). So it's free on OLPCs but still costs fat cat Americans & Europeans moneys. They retain some profit and are seeding themselves into the minds of youths that will be responsible for saving their countries from third world status.

    It's the same strategy they used with their "Academic Alliance" software giving to universities & the not so strange donations that Gates oversees when a village in a third world nation receives computers and technical support worth thousands of USD.

    Microsoft's interests are their survival and money.

    Nicholas Negroponte should be thrilled that Microsoft is already recognizing his success and I wish to send him my gratitude and admiration as so far he has been the only person in this picture with purely good motives. Also all the unnamed developers that have made this possible whether they be employed to do it or not.

    Don't get me wrong, it's great that the world's largest software maker is fighting to give more options to people in need. I'm just afraid that they're going to try to maneuver putting their software on instead of the Linux kernel and we'll have to deal with Windows/Internet Explorer's horrible insecurities on a global level.
    • If the OLPC really increases their market share dramatically, and since the OLPC model shifts all marketing a distribution costs onto the country purchasing them, and because all orders are bulk orders in the millions, maybe they could cut the price dramatically. It's all marginal profit to them and a margin of say $20 might be just dandy. It would be a cut feature version to avoid cannibalizing 1sth world nation sales. Maybe they could even open source the low end version and turn the world into their
      • ... and because all orders are bulk orders in the millions, maybe they could cut the price dramatically.

        See, your problem is that you're thinking like a human being with a heart and soul who cares for his fellow man. Well, we have this thing called 'the internet' and it allows all software to be distributed 'in bulk' to everyone using the internet. I like your explanation and agree that that is how they should look at it. But it's obviously not because they could have treated everyone in the world as 'bulk' when they released their latest piece of MS Office software. Imagine downloading it to the tune o

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by evilandi (2800)
          Well, we have this thing called 'the internet' and it allows all software to be distributed 'in bulk' to everyone using the internet

          For values of "everyone" that are limited to broadband, yes.

          For people on the edge of a mesh network that is operational provided none of the twelve intermediate XO laptops are switched off en-route to the next-but-one village that has a single 9600bps dial-up... no.
          • Yes. But imagine a cheap / "free" Windows on every XO -- when access to the Internet becomes more and more readily available:

            "That's no Storm Worm..."

            ;)
            • by davester666 (731373) on Friday October 26, 2007 @03:39PM (#21133109) Journal
              It'll be XP Crippled, and only work on these wacky laptops, but there is going to be too many of these things being given to too many kids for MS to even consider letting Linux get that about of mindshare.

              And they aren't going to aim at Negroponte to pre-install this instead of Linux. They will aim at convincing the governments where these laptops will eventually be shipped to, to get the government to demand that MS's software be installed so they can interoperate with the government's newly installed MS server software.

              They can't let a generation of children, eager to learn to use computers to get a better life, learn how to use and program something other than Microsoft, and to know that the majority of computers around them can run something other than Microsoft software and run well.

              Just like heroin, the first hit is free, but you pay dearly for the rest of your life. And you life sucks once you take that hit.
        • Why would people buy a 5-dollar piece of software when they don't feel bad about pirating something that would, when bought, set them back a hundred dollars or so? I'd wager that most people feel pirating something that's cheap in the first place is less immoral than pirating something that is expensive. And buying software always comes with hurdles, especially with MS: the process of actually buying it, with all the involved work, then activation, you name it. Piracy is easier. I don't think consumers bein
    • If Microsoft was smart, they'd complete the migration of Windows to OLPC. Then they'd charge a premium price for it (say $595, including Microsoft Works or Office).

      Then they'd fund an underground source (think of how they funded SCO) to develop an easy one-click port from OLPC Linux to Windows, keeping all valuable user files in tact.

      Then the underground source would accidentally leak it on the P2P networks, and the rouge pirate underprivileged kids would think they are "sticking it to the man" and get

    • by kebes (861706) on Friday October 26, 2007 @12:39PM (#21130395) Journal

      They will release Windows XP trimmed down but it will only run if it recognizes the hardware as XO
      That would be interesting, since there are well-established solutions for emulating the XO [laptop.org] in a virtual image (mostly for development purposes). These could probably be adapted to run this modified Windows XP. I imagine that a trimmed-down XP running in a virtual machine would be very useful. It would run quickly and could thus easily fill the gap of running a few Windows apps on an otherwise FLOSS machine.

      No doubt Microsoft would try to create license terms to prohibit such usage, but without cooperation from the hardware designers in the OLPC project, I'm not sure they will have any technical ability to lock-out their Windows XP version from being run in virtual machines.
    • I think it's about perceived value. Most people don't value what they didn't pay for. It's free, so it's not worth much, right? This is the reason why I won't give my child any money for college. Not a penny. I'm going to make them pay their own way, out of their trust funds and other incomes. If I paid for it and gave them a free education, they wouldn't value it at all.

      Same with Linux. It came with the computer, and it's free anyway. Microsoft is going to make a HUGE amount of money selling XP to people w
    • Proof of concept. Perhaps one or more groups got the go ahead to pursue a light weight OS that is more portable than current offerings (CE, Xp, and Vista). Showing it to work on the OLPC would be just great for press time.

      This would be the precusror to more Windows named systems with a new common core. Not his first generation attempt but aiming more at the types of devices which MS expects to take off in the upcoming nations of the world.

      Personally I think the OLPC is a waste of money, more should be ded
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      No. The reason is very simple. Everywhere but the US, Microsoft exists in the market because of piracy. I doubt they expect to have a bunch of people buying XP. On the other hand, I bet they do expect a bunch of people pirate XP.

      Microsofts biggest fear is people will learn that computers don't have to be based on windows. Once that happens, they can't sell licenses to business and government, because the people won't only know windows so the businesses won't get it.

      Sean
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by grcumb (781340)

        Microsofts biggest fear is people will learn that computers don't have to be based on windows. Once that happens, they can't sell licenses to business and government, because the people won't only know windows so the businesses won't get it.

        I couldn't agree more. I've written a more extended assessment [livejournal.com] elsewhere, but it really comes down to this:

        Microsoft has no other ambition than blocking access to any other operating system. They want Windows everywhere, all the time. Their entire strategy is contingent on the ubiquity of the Windows platform. The XO laptop is one of the most significant threats to their hegemony, and for once they're forced to fight on someone else's turf. Having to eat crow and announce XP support for the XO laptop is

    • by Abcd1234 (188840) on Friday October 26, 2007 @12:57PM (#21130723) Homepage
      The first is the driving force behind all of Microsoft's actions (and, in fact, almost everyone's): money.

      Absolutely. But I think both of your ideas are off the mark (though you start to get it a bit later). The goal, here, probably isn't to make money selling Windows to XO users. In fact, I'll bet dollars to donuts their plan is to give away their port for free. No, the goal is to get people familiarized with Windows products. Remember, the developing world today will be the markets of the future for MS. Having an entire generation of children exposed to Windows could be a very good thing for Microsoft when those economies begin to mature.
    • by bendodge (998616)
      Ok, so it's just MS's normal routine of trying to preserver Windows' dominance. Let's just all tag this mslockin and hope it's so slow and expensive that it crashes and burns.
    • it's great that the world's largest software maker is fighting to give more options to people in need

      Yep! That's their mission!

      In other news, Global Warming benefits public health! [salon.com] according to White House flack.
    • by Moraelin (679338) on Friday October 26, 2007 @01:22PM (#21131167) Journal
      More likely because a key factor in the Windows+Office+IE monopoly is its ubiquity. Remember: it's only a "de facto standard" or "industry standard" if, indeed, pretty much everyone and their grandma is inofficially accepting it as a standard, and when your program/format/whatever is subconsciously synonimous with the whole category.

      The way it works is like this: (very nearly) everyone uses product X (where X can be Excel, Word, whatever) with its proprietary format Y. At home, at work, etc. The effects are, in no particular order:

      1. That it's taken for granted that almost everyone already knows how to work with X, but you might need to train them to use the competitors' equivalent. This is a very big factor when corporations decide to standardize on something. And, at least subconsciously, it's then a factor in what people use at home. You've already used or seen X used at work, so there's no point in wasting your time learning something else instead.

      2. Because of 1, knowing how to use program X suddenly is a "skill" you might need at work. You know chances are overwhelming that, unless you're a linux admin or such, the PC at your next job will have X installed on it, and you'll be expected to know how to use it. It might even be an explicit requirement in the job ad. (Remember: training them is expensive, so you might as well hire those who already have the skills you want.)

      So the maths already becomes screwed up. If product X costs, say, 500$, it already paid for itself with interest if having that skill saves you even a month of looking for a new job. Or if it lets you move to a job that pays as little as 50$ a month more than your current one, it paid for itself in 10 months flat. "But some other equivalent is free" just lost a lot of appeal in that context.

      3. Because "everyone" has program X, thus they "all" can (and do) use its proprietary format Y. (See the recent linked story about even most OOo users saving in .doc or .xls format.) So it becomes the de-facto format of communication, and everyone is supposed to be able to read and write it flawlessly. If you're the guy who can't read format Y, you're as much an oddball as if you were the local luddite without a phone.

      And especially for a company, "we don't do Y files" is a big no-no. It doesn't take more than one contract lost with a big customer because you told him you don't want to install Word, to make a bigger loss than buying a retail copy of it for every computer.

      This is somewhat easier to get around, since nowadays OOo does a decent job of reading _most_ office files. But, still, the more it gets taken for granted, the more you're expected to be a 100% flawless emulation, down to the 65536 bug. And it gets pointed as a show-stopper if one guy's spreadsheet uses some obscure old function or macro that you don't emulate 100% accurately.

      4. Even more importantly, well, you can't have a monopoly on interchangeable separate pieces. That kind of a market can be attacked one product at a time. You want every product to depend on every other product. You want people to say, "yeah, Linux is nice, but does it run the latest version of Word?" and the like.

      But to cut this long rant shorter, again, it all boils down to ubiquity. It boils down to the next manager doing any purchasing thinking "naah, _everyone_ knows how to use Windows and Word, but we'd need to retrain everyone if we installed Linux and OOo."

      And in that aspect, raising a whole bloody generation of Indians and Chinese on Linux and OOo, is probably something that scares the seven shades of shit out of MS. It's the kind of thing that could lead to "nah, if we're offshoring there and/or importing workers from there anyway, we'd Linux and OOo are for free and we'd need to retrain them for Windows and MS Office." Or worse yet, to realizing, "hmm, everyone there uses ODF, don't they? I guess it would cost us more to force them to accept .xls files." It's that kind of things tha
    • I'm going to propose two reasons, both are quite laughable.

      The first is the driving force behind all of Microsoft's actions (and, in fact, almost everyone's): money.


      I agree with many of your points, especially about MS developing Windows X2OP to run only on XO laptops and use it to seed the future for "real" Windows.

      My guess for an approach would be to simply give away the XO version (they could license it to a country for a fee that includes tech support and allow anyone from that country to run it on an
    • by sm62704 (957197)
      Is the writing on the wall? I imagine the OLPC PC scared the bejibbers out of Microsoft. What happens when ordinary people (people who only want a computer to surf the web and check their email) start to realize that for what they need a computer for, they don't need to spend a ton of money?

      The price of hardware keeps falling, not just computer hardware. The 25 inch TV set (sans remote, mind you) I bought in 1978 cost me $600, and that was when my wife would take $25 to the grocery store and come home with
    • by xenocide2 (231786)
      Its possible that they're interested because, as Tim Gettys said, making software work better on OLPC will make it work better everywhere. Nobody notices a 1W software power consumption problem when the back light consumes 10W and the rest of the hardware another 5W. But OLPC is ambitious enough that you have to make it work. Microsoft might want to use the OLPC as a cheap platform to "test their mettle", so to speak, and bring the benefits back home to the desktop. With the XO hardware already determined,
    • by clodney (778910)
      Now I realize this is Slashdot and all, but perhaps Microsoft is doing this because they think that in a head to head competition Windows with all of its attendant baggage and network effects is actually a viable competitor to Linux on the XO?

      Remember, the XO is supposed to be sold in lots of a million or more. MS can wine and dine the person placing that order, and try to convince them that having their children growing up knowing Windows is actually a good thing for the children and the local economy. T
    • 1) release it to bit torrent, accidentally - what up-and-coming teenager isn't going to want to dabble in the OS that runs on 90+% of desktops on major businesses around the world? Might as well bone up and get some free experience.

      2) there may be a perceived demand of integration between these laptops and the governments purchasing them.
  • Does it seem to anyone else that it's a dichotomy to put anything Windows on Linux? If I run Linux, it's usually a box I want to stay up and work all the time. This is not Window's thing. The DVD player in my house that freezes, is my XBOX360. The only HD DVD player I know that freezes, is the HD DVD hanging off my XBOX360.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by jimstapleton (999106)
      (1) AFAIK, the 360 doesn't run Windows.

      (2) The 90s called, they want their Windows back. Seriously, Win2K and later only have stability problems with bad hardware and bad drives. The former will cause issues with ANY os, and the latter with many (including Linux, sorry)

      (3) The OLPC is not intended to be a server or always on, your criticism is based on an extremely flawed presumption.
      • The 360 does run Windows. Granted, it's heavily stripped down and not even on the same architecture, but it's still Windows.
      • by erroneus (253617)
        We will know everything we need to know about where you're coming from if you answer one question:

        Should machines be expected to crash ever? Should the amount of time they are running be a factor at all?

        And while I'll agree that Win2k was a vast improvement and WinXP was good too, the crashing and the other stuff is still a normal and ordinary part of running Windows on the desktop AND on the server. For windows, crashing is normal. For everyone else, it's ghastly.
        • > Should machines be expected to crash ever? Should the amount of time they are running be a factor at all?

          Provided every component is made properly, no.

          I expect my machines not to crash. So far, the biggest letdown due to OS has been with the 9x Windows. After that? Linux. Sorry, 2K and XP have had better stability on my machines than Linux (ignoring bad hardware).
  • I guess (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rik Sweeney (471717) on Friday October 26, 2007 @12:19PM (#21130091) Homepage
    that Microsoft could give away XP and subsidise the price of the laptop.

    Sure they'd make a loss, but wouldn't it be worth it just to secure dominance?
    • by fermion (181285)
      More than likely, they will have XP included in the price of the XO machines. It will be good publicity and help their market share.

      I believe where they wil make the money is in school licensing and in the overall fight against the Naked PC, boht of which has help them maintain market share. The former is the most important. If the a machine can run MS Windows, then it is my impression that under standard licensing it is assumed to run windows and is charged against. if a school changed to a mixed X0/M

  • by corsec67 (627446) on Friday October 26, 2007 @12:22PM (#21130115) Homepage Journal
    Now MS will have to compete against a working, installed OS that is on the laptops, based on their own merit. Since Linux can be free, including Windows will increase the price, and might not be as usable.

    Finally we can see if windows success is due in a large part to it being included in most computer purchases.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Oh, yes. Sweeeeeeet justice baby! Microsoft is now in the position of playing second fiddle, and now they have to prove that there is a compelling reason to use Windows over Linux.

      Of course, there will always be people who will do it. But I'd bet such people would be in the minority on this one, especially given the target market. Here's a fact: everybody needs an OS to do useful work on their computer. No one needs Windows. The fact is, despite what some might say, Linux is perfectly useable for the
  • . . . its first piece of malware.
  • I can't wait (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MBCook (132727)

    Let's see. Three options.

    1. They give it away for free - Thus proving it's worthless and shovelware
    2. They charge a little - Thus proving it's over priced
    3. They let people pirate it - Thus proving that's OK

    That's a little tongue-in-cheek, but this can't end too well for them from my. This will also prove that the wee little power of the OLPC (compared to consumer computers in the US, etc) is enough for anyone... or it will run like a dog and turn off large chunks of these "customers" to their software.

    Nothin

    • by Abcd1234 (188840)
      They give it away for free - Thus proving it's worthless and shovelware

      Well that's just idiotic. Are you saying Linux is shovelware?

      Personally, I'm willing to bet that, if they do get Windows running on the OLPC, they *will* give it away for free. Odds are it will have to be fairly limited, anyway, given the limitations of the XO, so there's no danger of it biting into their regular revenue streams, and it's a great way for MS to get Windows in the hands of a developing world. thus familiarizing them with
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Waffle Iron (339739)

        Are you saying Linux is shovelware?

        Linux doesn't have the stifling EULA restrictions and technical hobbling that make "emerging market" versions of Windows into shovelware.

    • by davidsyes (765062)
      To:

      "Now MS will have to compete against a working, installed OS that is on the laptops, based on their own merit. Since Linux can be free, including Windows will increase the price, and might not be as usable."

      and to your comments, I hope that courts will QUICKLY rule this as "dumping" by microsoft. I fear, though, that the courts might be swayed into thinking that "microsoft is just protecting its COMMERCIAL turf. Since Linux generally is not SOLD commercially parallel to ms and other computer products, th
    • Re:I can't wait (Score:4, Informative)

      by griffjon (14945) <GriffJon&gmail,com> on Friday October 26, 2007 @02:17PM (#21132003) Homepage Journal
      Remember MS has already created a program (Unlimited Potential) to sell XP (sans Office) for $3/pop to government programs in developing countries. OLPCNews covered this before [olpcnews.com], during the last MS on XO scare.
  • by onion2k (203094) on Friday October 26, 2007 @12:24PM (#21130161) Homepage

    Despite the conjecture that the Linux-based XO could convince millions of people in the developing world that they don't need Windows and build a huge base of developers for Linux, there still remains the question of how Microsoft would convince owners of XO laptops to buy and install Windows XP over the functional Linux-based OS already on it.

    Buy and install? Why would these developing nations have to buy Windows? Microsoft could intend to give it to them for free. Because they're so fluffy and altruistic and gosh-darn-nice of course, there'd be no ulterior motive whatsoever.

    Honest.
  • Windows *XP*? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MSTCrow5429 (642744) on Friday October 26, 2007 @12:25PM (#21130179)
    I guess Microsoft has begun to face reality, pushing XP over Vista.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 26, 2007 @12:35PM (#21130321)
      If they can get Vista running on the XO, I'll eat my shoe.

      sure it'll run Vista... you just have to duct-tape this $1000 laptop to it
    • Eh, you're reading way too much into that.

      Microsoft will tell you a lot of good things about Vista. One thing that even they won't claim is that it will run on super cheap hardware.
  • FUD (Score:2, Insightful)

    by caffiend666 (598633)
    By saying they are about to support the XO system, they create doubt about the current XO system and limit supporters. Enough people will wait to see what Microsoft will do, that even if Microsoft doesn't do anything, the support for the Linux XO system will be limited. This is similar to what Microsoft did to Novell Directory Server and other systems. If Microsoft was genuinely interested on a computer on every desk, they would have put out their own XO system a decade ago and would be supporting the cu
  • Crack Dealers (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ShaolinMonk (962704) on Friday October 26, 2007 @12:27PM (#21130205)
    This is a very old and proven method of marketing. A good example of this is still in use today. Crack Dealers. Give your crack away to children, so they become dependant on it. Once they are completely addicted, you have created a demand. Which allows Microsoft to continue business with little fear of anyone thinking any differently then they want. Because no addicted customer is going to revolt against their crack dealer. But they will introduce their friends and family to crack, and continue the cycle.
    • by mpapet (761907)
      It's not that scary. Remember when Apple had the education market? It didn't translate into business dominance.

      It's designed to torpedo contracts for XO's. Microsoft buys legislators who control the project and can legitimately say "but it's XP compatible." Bingo. IF the deal is done, it's done with Microsoft's OS because they've paid enough legislators off to have the project change direction. End of XO's Linux story and the XO people will be generally powerless to stop them.

      Let's say for a minute th
  • If I was Ballmer (Score:4, Insightful)

    by saibot834 (1061528) on Friday October 26, 2007 @12:28PM (#21130225) Homepage
    The most clever thing to do for Microsoft is hand out copies of Windows for free in the third world. If they don't give them for free (or at _very_ low cost), people won't use Windows and get used to GNU/Linux and other free alternatives to Windows. M$ has to decide what they want: No money now, a bigger market share of GNU/Linux and no money later - OR - no money now, Windows in the developing ([insert oblg. joke her]) world and perhaps much money later, when they can afford to buy Windows.
    I think a Microsoft employee has already said this about China: Installed pirated copies of Windows help Microsoft more than installed copies of GNU/Linux.

    It's the same in the drug business: you get the first cigaret gratis, and once you are addicted, you gotta pay...
  • what's the point? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by m2943 (1140797) on Friday October 26, 2007 @12:29PM (#21130229)
    I don't see any point in porting desktop versions of Windows, since few of the applications are going to work anyway. Windows Mobile might make a limited amount of sense, but even there, I'd ask: why bother?
    • I would think it's about Ego. "I own ALL COMPUTERS!" as the chairs fly, so logically they can't stop until the empire includes even the computer in my microwave oven.
    • by gilesjuk (604902)
      You do wonder why the OLPC was conceived given a PDA phone with qwerty keys is more powerful. Sure, battery life etc, but you could reduce the clock speed and fit a transreflective mono screen.
  • by edwardpickman (965122) on Friday October 26, 2007 @12:32PM (#21130283)
    The problem they ran into was translating "Not Allowed" into all those third world languages.
  • makes sense (Score:2, Insightful)

    What is the philosophy behind OLPC? That limiting computer access to the moneyed is inheritally wrong and causes them to remain impoverished. The corollary to this is that if you give them modern technology at least some will succeed. Well if they succeed do you as Microsoft want them buying MS products or, used to Linux?

    This is even more an issue, as with the free versions of Visual studio, MS is allowing people to learn how to develop for MS platforms for free. MS has always believed strongly in the "we

  • by Coryoth (254751) on Friday October 26, 2007 @12:43PM (#21130461) Homepage Journal

    ...there still remains the question of how Microsoft would convince owners of XO laptops to buy and install Windows XP over the functional Linux-based OS already on it. It's doubtful that Microsoft could encourage or coerce Negroponte to put XP on the machine, so whose arms will they twist?"
    I expect Microsoft will be going after the governments that are buying the XO laptops and then distributing them. It makes for a juicy target as it allows Microsoft to have Windows on the laptops in an entire country. It also has the advantage that it gives Microsoft a good leverage point: they can take a two pronged approach to convincing governments that they should do a mass reinstall of all the laptops with Windows before distributing them.
    1. Microsoft can pitch the whole "Windows is the standard, and you need to prepare your children to compete on the global market", suggesting that anything but Windows is going to cripple the children once they use anything other than the laptops. The usual FUD.
    2. Microsoft can have side negotiations about bulk deals on Microsoft software for the government. Discounts won't cost MS that much, but they could represent a decent chunk of change to some of the countries that are looking to be involved in this program.
    That makes for an easy point of attack, and allow Microsoft to subvert the XO laptop scheme quite effectively. Essentially they just go straight to the middleman with a combination of FUD and bribes, with the result that many of the laptops end uyp training the kids in Windows.
    • There's no "middlemen" in the XO supply chain the XO project could simply refuse to allow Windows on the machines.

      Would Microsoft's PR people be able to cope with the bad publicity that would bring them? I doubt it. They'd be caving after a couple of weeks when the developed world revolts against them (which I certainly would).

  • Can it be that Microsoft is trying to figure out if the solution is infringing on any of their patents and that they then are able to kill the whole project unless they are to provide the OS.
  • by hey! (33014) on Friday October 26, 2007 @12:45PM (#21130501) Homepage Journal
    This is speculation on my part, but I'm guessing that in part this is flanking maneuver.

    Since there has been a computer industry, the most important place to keep an eye on is what I call "the high end of the low end". that's the place where computers are being stretched into new applications they didn't address before. First comes the killer application, then comes the figuring out how to steal application domains from the mid range.

    Any place that is going to have these devices already has all the conventional laptops and desktops it can support. These devices are creating a new class of low end devices, which leaves the machines currently running windows in the mid-range: the abode of dinosaurs.

    Some day Microsoft may face a government in a place that has millions of these devices in the hands of the populace, that may consider it a reasonable idea to migrate away from Windows because of that. Instead, Microsoft can make them a proposition: we'll cut you a deal on Windows for the OLPC so you can "upgrade" them to a real operating system. You will bring all those people on this toy operating system into parity with the rest of the world, which makes you a hero. And you get to do those major IT projects you are considering in Visual Studio 2010 instead of having to learn Python.

    The exact details of what they have in mind may be quite different; it may even be that they don't really have anything specific in mind. But Microsoft is a company that believe is technology; thus they take the possibility of OLPC's having a transformative effect on societies seriously. The possibility that OLPC can change the rules of the game. On the off chance it does, then the money spent to port Windows to the device will be a small price to pay to have a hand in the game. If it doesn't, they still take away knowledge about porting their platform to more resource constrained devices, so if anybody makes a splash in that area, they'll be prepared with an answer.
    • by Joce640k (829181)
      Microsoft has to be seen to have a strategy, even if it's a hollow one.

      • by hey! (33014)
        Hollow? Hardly. Not if winning matters more than having the best technology.

        Boiled down to its essentials, their strategy is to never, ever underestimate the importance an emerging platform. They respond rapidly with PR and money until engineering can reach the fabled "3.0" credible release. Even if the ultimate result is that the market for the new class of devices stagnates and innovation grinds to a halt, as it did in the PDA market, they've done their job. They've retained control of the single most
  • Assuming MS spend a few million on cutting down windows to make it comfortable on a system with limited, finite resources and then sell the XO version roughly at cost for distribution say, $10. They could end up with hundreds of thousands of people who don't really know MS getting to grips with their OS.

    Considering the millions TV advertising costs and it's only reaching people already familiar with their brand for 10-20seconds, this is pretty good value for MS.

    Personally I'm not a fan of the OLPC's app

    • "I'm not a fan of the OLPC's approach of using a version of linux that lacks compatibility with most other versions."

      You just don't get it.

      The idea behind the XO isn't to be able to run "standard" applications. The idea is to create a whole new ecosystem based around the needs of eight year old children.

      The principle points addressed by the XO are communication (instant messaging) and replacement of paper school books.

      • by abigsmurf (919188)
        But none of those things called for a version of linux that is incompatible with most common builds. They're all things that could've been done by applications or drivers.
  • by smackenzie (912024) on Friday October 26, 2007 @12:55PM (#21130685)
    1. There is an internal push by Microsoft to acquire 100 startups asap. Certainly there is a halo effect (no pun intended) in the company to "be a part of" other startups. This is an interesting startup.

    2. Despite the common perception on Slashdot, a lot of relevant Microsoft employees are smart, interesting, caring people who might just find getting their OS to work on this platform a tantallizing challenge.

    3. The work performed can be used down the road for similar devices. So, even if Windows XP doesn't materialize on OLPC, they can show off how it can be done for other, similar, vendors. (Isn't the Acer research program and a number of other companies' research programs indicating that they are investigating computers in this price bracket with similar features?)

    4. The Gates' foundation has had a HUGE impact on third world countries in many, many areas. We already know that the OLPC turned down Apple OS X because it proprietary components -- so no way will Windows XP be a default. But if Gates' foundation purchased the devices themselves (in quantities of many millions), installed Windows XP "OLPC Edition" and gave them away... it would be an interesting combination of altruism and self-servicing. Too many arguments on both sides to list them for this article.

    • by glop (181086)
      I find your ideas interesting. I would add:
      5) the OLPC not being "capable" of running Windows makes Windows look bad : a fat system that wastes resources etc. They probably want to show that there OS can run on the OLPC and is therefore not technically inferior to Linux.

      So they have a few objective reasons to do that without being ashamed of it.
      • Yes, that's a great point. No doubt you are completely correct. I think at one point in my head I had that in the list, but you know Slashdot... you feel a compelling urge to push send.
      • by Fred_A (10934)

        I find your ideas interesting. I would add:
        5) the OLPC not being "capable" of running Windows makes Windows look bad : a fat system that wastes resources etc. They probably want to show that there OS can run on the OLPC and is therefore not technically inferior to Linux.
        It probably would run Windows 2. Or 3.

  • It's doubtful that Microsoft could encourage or coerce Negroponte to put XP on the machine, so whose arms will they twist?"

    Governments'. Corrupt governments' arms. Ones that crave money, fame, and other gratification from relationships with large (generally corrupt) companies.
  • The main reason a lot of people have Windows is to play games.

    I don't think anyone's going to mod an XO with a Geforce 7600, so what's the point?
  • by Peter Simpson (112887) on Friday October 26, 2007 @01:03PM (#21130831)
    The software that MS will provide will, by necessity, be hardware-specific to the XO platform.
    You almost have to do that, as there's no hard drive (you'll need a flash file system instead)
    and minimal RAM, and a non-standard display. As a matter of fact, XO doesn't look anything like the
    platform MS is used to running on.

    The OS Microsoft finally provides may look like XP to the user,
    but I suspect it's going to be more like a highly modified WinCE inside.

    They'll give the OS away...after all, it will only run on the XO...and advertise how
    they're helping to educate the developing world's children -- the Microsoft way.

    And the reason they're going to all this effort?

    I think MS sees this as a strategic move. OLPC potentially delivers a pretty
    large number of young eyeballs. It would be a *very* Bad Thing for their
    first exposure to computers to involve a friendly penguin wearing the label "Linux".

    Much better for future MS sales that they see the Windows logo.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is exactly what OLPC needs. Before getting too excited about it, read [olpcnews.com] up [wired.com] on [zdnet.com] OLPC [micromux.com]. Not only does it fail to address real educational concerns, the interface is sufficiently proprietary that these kids aren't going to learn how to use a standard GUI.

    Kudos to Microsoft for supporting this platform, and hopefully Classmate PC [classmatepc.com] will be able to bridge this gap with a real system. Certainly the OLPC business model is exciting and I think given the opportunity to buy a student this kind of computer would be som
    • "the interface is sufficiently proprietary that these kids aren't going to learn how to use a standard GUI"

      How is it proprietary, it runs on Redhat, anyone can write to the specs. The interface specs are published here [laptop.org], so anyone can write to it, how does that make it proprietary. How does the OLPC not have a real operating system. It runs a striped down version of Red Hat linux on the Sugar OS [slashdot.org]">OLPC Human Interface.

      As for a standard GUI, once kids have used a GUI then they can quickly adapt to the
  • If Microsoft finds some way to put XP on those laptops (through governments, giveaways or otherwise), I would like to see the computer world's reaction.

    The XO is designed with both hardware and software specially built for each other. I would bet that even if MS could make XP run on it, it would take ages to make all the hardware features work (mesh, changing resolution display, etc).

    But the real question is: How would people react. They *know* that XP runs worse on those laptops, and that Microsoft's only
  • It's doubtful that Microsoft could encourage or coerce Negroponte to put XP on the machine, so whose arms will they twist?"

    That would be the various ministers of education and/or commerce or any other official in the various countries that the OLPC folks would like to import who have veto power over the project. And it won't be an arm twist, it will be a fully stocked offshore bank account.

    After a time, when these countries administrations discover the fraud, these (now former) officials will have to make a

  • "Competitors" (Score:2, Interesting)

    by RealGrouchy (943109)
    I read that story on the wire this morning, and noticed how it implies that "Linux" is just a "competitor" to Microsoft, as if it were just some other company providing the same type of product, but with slightly different features.

    At no point does the article discuss the nature of Linux, nor the inherent advantages (and disadvantages, since it's "objective" news) of open-source.

    While techies are at least familiar with the concepts of FLOSS, there's still a long way to go to get the mainstream to understand
  • I argue strongly that the operating system should be unbundled, or at least the consumer offered the choice at the point of sale. Why: because I don't like having to pay the 'M$ tax' when I buy a new PC.

    However: the XO comes with a bundled OS: Linux. Hmmmm, to be consistent should I not argue that the consumer should be able to choose what OS they want on their XO ?

    The above is a matter of principle, not which is better or whatever.

    I still don't know what I should think .... help please!

  • That's been the very successful (and arguably appropriate) strategy all along. Empower administrators who have to manage/control/procure all these devices. Lock them into the Microsoft Way. Have them invest $$$ into Tech Support, servers, back office software, etc. To Microsoft's credit, they do provide this stuff to schools at reduced price, and to Microsoft's credit, they do provide solutions to problems that large scale system administrators/CIOs have to face.

    But that marketing model still feels like
  • that the next biggest market is that from the developing nation. Because the hardware hasn't here to for been available at a cost effective price, no platform has existed for them to put their software. Because someone is solving the hardware problem, they now have a platform from which to run Windows...98. I would laugh to see Vista run on one of those machines.
  • Question: "so whose arms will they twist?"

    Answer: the governments of countries in South America, Asia, Africa, and elsewhere that will be buying the machines.
  • by webmaster404 (1148909) on Friday October 26, 2007 @01:44PM (#21131491)
    When people boot up the laptop they aren't going to see "Linux" they are going to see the GUI which happens to look very childish http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugar_(GUI) [wikipedia.org] (as the target audience is children) but the typical computer user only sees the GUI and thinks how simple it is rather then using a "true operating system" such as XP, not to mention how people generally have no clue what Linux is or thinking of it solely as a server OS (I had one guy after I said that I used Linux ask me why I needed a server at home) and because Linux always seems to be "intigrated" into the hardware, most people don't know that its there, just as if you would ask someone who has a cell phone what operating system it was running they would shrug (Unless it was a Palm, Blackberry or iPhone) because people think of it as "just a phone" just like a TiVo is "just a video recorder" it is this that is hurting Linux adoption as people don't know what runs Linux, and when you show a typical American parent if you want a laptop running Linux (But all they see is a very simple GUI) or Windows which they know as an Operating system. And I bet that for the third world countries, they would just have Linux running and just download a copy of Windows to put on there.
    • by erroneus (253617)
      "Hurting" Linux adoption? Not sure I can get behind that too much. I can see your point when you're talking about direct head-to-head competition between Windows and Linux on the desktop... Linux cannot win this fight in the short term and in the long term, we really can't be certain what "desktop computing" will actually be. We must realize that the desktop paradigm will eventually lose favor and we'll start using general purpose appliances and stuff like that to the point where people don't care what k
  • Perhaps MS are making windows for XO so that they can tell governments that selling XOs with linux on is tantamount to encouraging piracy, so most XOs will end up with pirated copies of WindowsXO on them, and thus strongarm the Governments into only buying XOs with Windows pre installed.

    kind of ass-backwards logic, but it's not the least logical argument they've ever used to support their monopoly position.

  • The real reason (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheNarrator (200498) on Friday October 26, 2007 @02:41PM (#21132345)
    If you can run Windows XP on the OLPC, adults will be able to use them. Especially if windows can debrick stolen OLPCs.

    This means that they can be stolen and resold, thereby destroying the program.
  • Absolutely no chance (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cafe Alpha (891670) on Friday October 26, 2007 @03:40PM (#21133121) Journal
    that they can get MS bloatware working on the OLPC.

    Imagine trying to start MS Office Accounting 2007. It installs SQL-Server as a service just so it can run. That brings my boot time to something like 4 minutes on my 1 GB memory, Pentium-M machine. My machine thrashes just booting! I'm sure the rest of MS Office is just as bloated.

    Trying to run my copy of XP in a virtual machine under linux makes the machine thrash for 15 minutes before settling down to running REALLY slowly. They're attempting the impossible, no worries.

You are in a maze of little twisting passages, all alike.

Working...