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Microsoft and OLPC Agree To Put XP On the XO Laptop 530

Posted by Soulskill
from the sliding-down-a-slippery-slope dept.
Apro+im points out a NYTimes report which states that Microsoft and the OLPC project have officially agreed to put Windows XP on the XO laptop. While Microsoft has been working toward this for some time, analysts began to think a deal was more likely after Walter Bender resigned from the project and was replaced by Charles Kane. Former OLPC security developer Ivan Krstic had a lot to say about Windows on the XO as well. From the Times: "Windows will add a bit to the price of the machines, about $3, the licensing fee Microsoft charges to some developing nations under a program called Unlimited Potential. For those nations that want dual-boot models, running both Windows and Linux, the extra hardware required will add another $7 or so to the cost of the machines, Mr. Negroponte said. The project's agreement with Microsoft involves no payment by the software giant, and Microsoft will not join One Laptop Per Child's board. 'We've stayed very pure,' Mr. Negroponte said.
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Microsoft and OLPC Agree To Put XP On the XO Laptop

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  • by idiotwithastick (1036612) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @08:16PM (#23426912)
    If Microsoft really cared about education so much, why wouldn't they just give Windows to the OLPC project for free? $3 may be a lot when you multiply it by the numbers of copies that will be sold, but that's still less than 1/30 the price of a retail copy of Windows, and their brand image would probably improve as a result.
    • by PPH (736903) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @08:22PM (#23426998)
      They have to get kids in the third world used to cutting Microsoft in on every transaction in their lives.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 16, 2008 @03:11AM (#23429878)
        Yep, this is pretty much it. I was considering getting one last time around, but the price was too steep. If they do another give one-get one deal, they've lost me on it. Paying for Windows is ridiculous; the whole point was to get it as cheap as possible. $3 for Windows times 34 computers would buy a 35th if they got it down to $100 as originally planned.

        Such a shame to see the project, which originally had a goal of "everything on the system will be open source and we're going to have a 'show source' button for every program" ruined like this.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 16, 2008 @09:09AM (#23432018)
          Did you and the parent posters even read the article? Microsoft didn't approach OLPC, OLPC approached Microsoft. The reason OLPC approached Microsoft is because it turned out there was very little interest in a laptop running Linux; most buyers (governments) wanted Windows.

          At least from this article, Microsoft don't appear to have made any claims that they're offering Windows for the XO for any reason other than customer demand for it. Why give it away? Do you think the other components used in the OLPC are being sold to OLPC at a loss? If not, why should the OS be sold at a loss?

          In the context of a $200 price (which, according to the article, is the actual price -- $100 is an eventual target), $3 isn't much at all, especially if it turns the $200 machine from something so useless that buyers aren't even interested into something that actually meets a need.

          The focus on open source would make sense if the goal was only to teach children how to develop software, but most people who use computers in day to day life aren't writing software. Most XO users won't become software developers, and what's more important than being able to read source code is being able to develop IT skills that will help their economies develop. In blunt terms, that basically means learning to use the Windows platform.
    • by NotBornYesterday (1093817) * on Thursday May 15, 2008 @08:40PM (#23427158) Journal
      Without trolling for MS fans, and without faulting any of the philanthropic gifts from the Gates Foundation, I can honestly say that I don't think that Microsoft as a company is concerned about these kids' education. I think they are more concerned about training new users to use MS rather than linux, and with keeping 90%+ of desktop OS market.

      What really pisses me off is that including XP on these things will increase the cost directly and indirectly ($3+$7) a total of 10% of the target $100 price of the laptop. It's taken a lot of hard work to put something together that is workable and to get the price down to the $200 it is at now. If they license at $3/copy, and are successful enough to get it on a million laptops, they've grossed $3 million ... which is nothing to them. So why bother?

      You're right. Their corporate image would look a lot better if they just said 'Okay, here, install it all you want, this is on us.'
      • by kernowyon (1257174) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @09:01PM (#23427344) Journal
        NotBornYesterday said -

        I can honestly say that I don't think that Microsoft as a company is concerned about these kids' education

        If you read the blog by Ivan Krstic in the submission, it would seem that Nicholas Negroponte isn't too bothered about education when compared to shifting the OLPCs -

        Nicholas told me -- and not just me -- that learning was never part of the mission. The mission was, in his mind, always getting as many laptops as possible out there

        It is a huge shame that the OLPC project has deteriorated in this way. When first announced,I was really keen on getting hold of one of these machines to see what I could do to help. I downloaded the .iso of the Sugar GUI and ran it in a VM - very clunky in the VM, but you could see the potential. Others I demonstrated it to were equally impressed. Now it seems to be floundering desperately and the Microsoft sharks are closing in for the kill.
        • by EvilRyry (1025309) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @09:15PM (#23427464) Journal
          The project really has deteriorated with this news. An organization that sets out to change the world and abandons one of main principals will get no support from me.
          • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@nOSPAm.yahoo.com> on Thursday May 15, 2008 @11:26PM (#23428496) Journal
            You know that feeling you got when Walter Bender left the project over a disagreement with Nicholas? That "Wozniak has left the building" feeling? Turns out we were right.

            I think we can safely say that this has nothing to education of the third world or software idealism or even free market economics but is simply a nasty little case of cronyism and under the table deals. Nicholas is a board member and OLPC is a nonprofit. Last time I checked board members of nonprofits don't draw a salary.

            This is the thing I hate about our current system. See, it would be one thing if they just flat out stated what they were doing, "It's in our corporate best interests to make sure that everyone learns to use our software, so we're going to make this cheap laptop and put Windows on it and sell it to third world kids." I would actually have a little grudging respect for that.

            But no, once again the system has eaten up idealism and spat out lies and manipulation. Most people involved in this project were idealists who thought they were bringing something good and pure into the world. Many of them were devoted to open source. And they just got fucked, and the motherfuckers who did it to them are laughing all the way to the bank.
            • by l0b0 (803611) on Friday May 16, 2008 @02:43AM (#23429718) Homepage

              Last time I checked board members of nonprofits don't draw a salary.

              "Non profit" just means they'll have a zero budget balance, i.e., no money to share after the year is up. It's not the same as a charity. Your point is still valid, and personally I've gone from eagerly awaiting the give-one-get-one program in Europe to no interest at all.

              • by hey! (33014) on Friday May 16, 2008 @05:57AM (#23430788) Homepage Journal

                "Non profit" just means they'll have a zero budget balance, i.e., no money to share after the year is up.


                That's not correct. You can no more run a non-profit without a surplus (in other words a "profit") than you can any other enterprise. It'd be too financially risky to give yourself no slack, and too financially irresponsible to spend your slack wildly at the end of the year.

                If you've ever looked at a non-profit financial statement, the difference from a for-profit is that "Owner's Equity" on the balance sheet is called "Retained Earnings". And that indicates the fundamental difference, which is not so much a matter of how the organization budgets (although that is somewhat different), or the kinds of revenue raising activities it undertakes (which is less different than you might think), as it is purpose. For-profit enterprises exist to generate value for, then distribute that value to, the owners. Non-profit enterprises exist to perform a mission, although that can be to create value for some target beneficiaries.

                Just as for-profit enterprises feel they need a mission to generate profit efficiently, non-profit enterprise need profit to pursue their mission effectively. If you run out of cash, or if the creditors are beating down the door, you can't change the world.

                The mission of a non-profit is usually charitable or educational, but not necessarily. A non-profit can be formed for the private benefit of the people creating it, for example some types of cooperatives. The "Best Western" hotel organization in the United States is a non-profit cooperative. The REI outdoor sporting goods stores are a non-profit cooperative that is nearly indistinguishable from a for-profit; the difference is that the dividends paid to members are based on the members' purchases. It is not a reward for investment, it is a repayment for spending more than the minimum than could be charged sustainably.

                And, in the end, it is all about sustainability. A "mission", for a for-profit business, is a necessary evil. You could generate revenue in a completely opportunistic way, and it often pays to be somewhat opportunistic, but ultimately no organization can be good at everything, nor can it court everyone as customers.

                Profit, for the non-profit enterprise, is likewise a necessary evil. OLPC could charge less for each PC, and get more into the hands of students as long as their cash held out which would not be for long.

                So, in many ways, you run a charity (which is what we are talking about here) just the same as business. Oh, you have people who just give you money, but most of that money is what is called "encumbered"; it's no different from being a consultancy that gets an up-front payment for some service they are going to provide. You don't book it as income until the work is done.

                This means you consider exactly the same factors a business does when you make a strategic decision. The difference is this: in a push-comes-to-shove scenario, you choose maximizing mission over maximizing profit. For you, the profit is there to support the mission; for a business it is the other way around.
            • by SL Baur (19540) <steve@xemacs.org> on Friday May 16, 2008 @08:07AM (#23431522) Homepage Journal

              See, it would be one thing if they just flat out stated what they were doing, "It's in our corporate best interests to make sure that everyone learns to use our software, so we're going to make this cheap laptop and put Windows on it and sell it to third world kids." I would actually have a little grudging respect for that.
              US$3 is *not* a trivial amount in the 3rd world, but I expect the Microsoft Fanboys to mod me down as usual. I live in the 3rd world and you don't. so have at me.

              I think this is a *huge* sellout and I don't have any respect for it. None, whatever the explanation.
          • by cgenman (325138) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @11:26PM (#23428506) Homepage
            It also abandons the innovative software that thousands of volunteers have poured their time into advancing. Instead of getting a super-simple windowing system adapted to the needs of the users and the hardware, they get a bloated OS that doesn't work with the laptop and is customized to keep IT workers rolling in money for years to come.

            But most importantly, they just told all of their software developers to shove off. Well done Negroponte. Well done.

            • by Opportunist (166417) on Friday May 16, 2008 @12:05AM (#23428786)
              And even that works in favor of MS.

              Devs disillusioned about OLPC, so they leave the project. OLPC project without devs, so it will bomb. One problem less for MS where they might have lost some market share, and the last thing MS needs is hardware in wide use that struggles to run their bloatware. It might tell people they're better off with a system that needs fewer flashy gimmicks to do what they want to do.

              Sure, the people in "underprivileged countries", who were the alleged original beneficiaries of the whole project are losing out. But ... oh why should we care, their spending capacity is abysmal.
          • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2008 @11:54PM (#23428706)
            The project really has deteriorated with this news.


            That was Microsoft's goal.


            They've won.

          • by TeknoHog (164938) on Friday May 16, 2008 @05:01AM (#23430490) Homepage Journal

            An organization that sets out to change the world and abandons one of main principals

            I can see that's a problem, since this is an education project after all. What are the teachers going to do without principals?

        • by ivan256 (17499) on Friday May 16, 2008 @10:01AM (#23432662)
          It didn't deteriorate. It started that way. Plenty of us pointed out Negroponte's ego and the impossibility of success without compromising on almost every one of the stated goals. When we said these things in forums such as this one, we were modded down, and told we hated children, or that we were linux haters, or were asked what we were doing to improve the world...

          Now, it becomes clear. The cost is higher than was originally planned. The devices are going to run Windows instead of Linux. Negroponte has admitted he's more interested in proliferating his brain-child than maintaining the commitment to learning about and through computers that he originally claimed. They used those things for publicity, and now that they got the publicity they're dishing out the reality.

          We told you so.
      • by zappepcs (820751) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @10:00PM (#23427802) Journal
        Honestly, I wish I had the time and sharper skills to take a distro of GNU/Linux and carve it just right to work on the OLPC. I'd gladly give it to them, not to spite MS, but to help ensure that there are tons of people free of the shackles of forced upgrades, NSA backdoors, and a number of other things that can be hidden from them by closed source software. I had hoped that this is what would happen... natch. Money still rules the roost. One day this will not be so, and I think that it won't take long to turn it around if some group of gifted individuals with time to spare would put their efforts on the task of putting Linux on the OLPC system.

        I'm not bashing MS per se' but I dislike the idea that so many people who can ill afford it would be placed into that cycle of upgrades and buy to play software. RMS was right in some respects, and the OLPC situation illustrates the foundation of his early frustrations. It should be free. I'm not saying that you can't roll your own and try to make some money. Good on Bill for doing so, but using money and clout to force that on others is rather despicable... and I'm being nice here.

        Why doesn't MS just send the disks free of charge with a label on it that says 'fuck you kid' and be done with it?
        • by griffjon (14945) <GriffJon.gmail@com> on Thursday May 15, 2008 @10:47PM (#23428188) Homepage Journal
          Oh I wouldn't worry about software upgrades -- it's running XP, which MS will EOL as soon as they can, so you'll have millions of unsupported Windows boxes without security updates.

          • by Daengbo (523424) <daengbo@nospaM.gmail.com> on Friday May 16, 2008 @01:07AM (#23429166) Homepage Journal
            OK. I'm going to repeat a story I've been telling here for almost four years. If you've heard it, just move along.

            When I lived in Thailand (2000-2004), FLOSS was really picking up steam there. The government had a program to promote it and move all its servers and desktops over to Linux within five years (IIRC). NECTEC was even developing a "national OS" called LinuxTLE. It was in every tiny bookstore and in every hypermarket's computer section.

            Then MS came in -- I'm assuming after a BSA-style audit -- and told the Thai government that MS would pardon all the gov't piracy and give them blanket licenses for all existing computers for free. I'm also assuming there was an "or else."

            In the end, the Thai government reversed its stance and killed the FLOSS movement there with strategic comments meant to cover their asses -- things like "Linux is not ready for real-world use" and "the OSS development method can't produce quality software."

            The clincher? The licenses were all for Win98, which MS EOLed less than a year later.
          • by rtb61 (674572) on Friday May 16, 2008 @07:24AM (#23431256) Homepage
            Not only that but M$ will block the installation of OpenOffice.org on the windows OLPC boxes just as it does on all the low price ultra portables. So the lie that it will only add $3 to the cost is simply another marketing lie, as it will all add a repeating M$ office licence fee another licence fee to be spent again and again, at upgrades and as a result of hardware failures.

            The OLPC project lost focus as the low price ultra portable open notebooks started eating into it's market identity. In order to retain significance it sidled up to M$. M$ jumped at the opportunity, not to promote OLPC, or even to sell it's software at a profit losing discount but to kill the OLPC.

            M$ just like the other single minded greed is everything corporations wants to bleed the taxpayer dry, with endless licence fees, service and support fees, upgrade fees, server fees, content distribution fees etc. etc. etc. all dumped onto the cost of educating the children of the world not only in the third world but also the first and second world.

            The OLPC is just as useful an educational tool in first world countries as it is in third world countries and, people don't really realise how threatening that was to the arse holes of greed, all those billions of dollars of profit gone wanting or in reality tax payer dollars spent more usefully than on bloating the profit margins a just a handful of companies.

            Well at least the OLPC was not a failure, it launched a whole new line of notebooks and created a focus on achieving low cost educational computers using FOSS software, an effort that will only grow, and continue to expand well beyond the M$ lead demise of the OLPC.

      • by jesterzog (189797) on Friday May 16, 2008 @01:09AM (#23429176) Homepage Journal

        ...I don't think that Microsoft as a company is concerned about these kids' education. I think they are more concerned about training new users to use MS rather than linux, and with keeping 90%+ of desktop OS market.

        I'm not sure if this is a disagreement with what you said or a clarification, but personally I don't think Microsoft cares about training these users at all. Microsoft wouldn't have given it a second thought if OLPC didn't take the initiative. Even if these kids are trained on Windows, it's unlikely they'll ever be a huge source of income for Microsoft or any other proprietary businesses, compared with the money made in developed places.

        I think what frightens Microsoft, given that the children will get trained with or without Microsoft, is the possibility of any other platform ending up with some kind of dominance through popularity in third world countries. Microsoft's dominance comes through its monopolistic control and lock-in practices, and if non-Microsoft platforms become too dominant in third world countries, it'll almost certainly propagate to more developed countries in one form or another, reducing the control that Microsoft has. (ie. Customers will be demanding the ability to use open protocols, file formats, etc, so they can properly interact with those in third world countries.) Such a prospect has caused Microsoft's rather ruthless marketing and management machine to jump up and do whatever's necessary to stop that from happening, even though it might mean using subversive tactics to undermine the OLPC programme.

        Actually I have no doubt that many people in Microsoft, probably including most at ground level, have nothing but the best intentions and fully believe that Windows is a good thing for OLPC, since that's what you tend to do when you're embedded in such a corporate atmosphere. I also have no doubt that there are subversive tactics and strategic decisions going on around this at a marketing and management level.

      • by PinkyDead (862370) on Friday May 16, 2008 @04:57AM (#23430468) Journal
        But replace the following words:

        Microsoft with British Empire
        Windows sold below cost with textiles sold below cost (with an effective business model behind it that liquidates the indigenous economy and local resources)
        2008+ with 1608+ ...and you're back to the reason why they are developing countries in the first place.

        You've also got a very cheap future workforce available to you (and this time you don't have to chain them).
      • by ajs318 (655362) <sd_resp2@NOSPam.earthshod.co.uk> on Friday May 16, 2008 @05:47AM (#23430726)
        Yes, that's what I've been saying all along.

        When someone who makes a living selling expensive, proprietary tackle and bait wants to get involved with a project teaching people to fish, you should suspect an ulterior motive. Closed Source software is toxic stuff.

        Two of the Four Freedoms -- freedom to run and freedom to share -- can be taken by force if necessary, but the other two -- freedom to inspect and freedom to improve -- can't, because they depend on access to the Source Code.

        What is worse is, 25 years or so ago, when attitudes were being formed, you didn't need the Source Code so desperately; because most software was written in straight machine code, and physical limitations on memory and storage space meant that programs were smaller. So analysing a binary wasn't anything like as intractable as it is today. You didn't even need any special software tools: it was possible to disassemble the code by hand and brain alone. The entire instruction set of an 8-bit processor will fit onto one side of A4. Changing a machine code game to get a more readable charset, different control keys (there were two major camps in BBC-land; the Snapper faithful with Z and X for left and right, : and / for up and down, and the Contrarians preferring A and Z for up and down and _ and cursor down for left and right), not to mention the usual infinite lives / energy, or even altered graphics (giving the protagonist an enormous todger was always a firm favourite) wasn't difficult. Of course, there were also magazines with type-in listings, and you were more or less encouraged to tinker with them -- many BASIC programs could be hacked, if they didn't depend too heavily on machine-specific features, to suit another machine's dialect.

        Since then, everything has gone compiled; and binaries that came from a compiler aren't meant to be understood by humans. None of this is obvious to non-experts.

        OLPC was supposed to have introduced the rest of the world to computers as a blank slate. With Closed Source software on board, it's going to end up stamped indelibly with one particular vendor's vision of what computers should be like.

        I'm beginning to think that using an 80x86-class (and therefore Windows-capable) processor was a seriously bad choice in the first place. They should just have waited for the last of the first-generation ARM patents to expire, or even bought them outright and PD'ed them (which would have been cheaper than designing a processor from scratch) -- hell, since they were dealing directly with education ministries, maybe even persuaded governments in the target countries to annul them there. It would have sent out more clearly the message that Microsoft were not welcome.
      • by hey! (33014) on Friday May 16, 2008 @06:53AM (#23431072) Homepage Journal

        What really pisses me off is that including XP on these things will increase the cost directly and indirectly ($3+$7) a total of 10% of the target $100 price of the laptop.


        Well, that's beside the point, since the target is not reachable yet. It's more like a 5% increase. And maybe not that. If they sell waaay more laptops, it may end up being a wash, or even cheaper, because of larger volume purchases of components.

        The shelf life of the original vision was always limited; it was based on the idea that there was no hardware appropriate for, and affordable to, developing countries. While the appropriate is still up for grabs, affordable is just a matter of time. A hundred dollar laptop in a thousand dollar laptop world is dramatic. A two hundred dollar laptop in a world with four hundred dollar laptops is less so. Granted the Eepc doesn't have the battery life needed, but the hardware dimension of the digital divide continues to narrow every year.

        Ivan Krstic's rant is actually quite insightful. He's pissed at Negroponte, as well as the other people who are pissed at Negroponte, because they're having the wrong argument.

        The vision that got everyone excited was to put education and collaboration tools into the hands of students who didn't have them before. Worrying about adding $7 to the cost of the hardware is silly, when you don't have any means to actually track the distribution of that hardware. If you ship a thousand units, and only a hundred make it into the hands of the intended users, you've just paid $200,000 to deploy 100 laptops, or $2000/laptop.

        It's not an either/or question, but it's a little like one. The project is engulfed in this huge controversy of $7-$10, while it is not yet dealing with the $1800 question. The problem is that we've lost focus on the educational mission.

        The Windows issue is a total side show. The real problem is about "resources", which is a polite way to say "money". Worrying about $10 per unit is the kind of thing that in business I call a "problem we'd like to have". The real question is whether you've really enabled your focus customers to have that problem.

        The XO would make a fine Xubuntu or DSL workstation. So why develop Sugar at all? That's a bigger question than whether Sugar should run on Windows. It's obviously a nice idea to reinvent the GUI, but is that the best use of project resources? Why not develop all the collaboration and educational tools as open source, and let anybody who wants run it on Linux or port it to Windows or MacOS?

        Well, the short answer is that a new, education centric user interface is a nice thing to have. But is it really the biggest obstacle to the vision that could be removed with the "resources" that have been devoted to it? Charities frequently run on ego as much as idealism; when you look at them closely, it's often hard to assemble the big pictures from the pixels.

        OLPC has done the world a great service, by forcing manufacturers to get into the low end game. The existence of this game is good for impoverished users. It's also good for Linux. OLPC has changed the landscape, and it would probably be a good thing if it reoriented itself to accomplish its mission in that landscape.

        When it comes to doing it "for real", things look a lot different than people imagined up front.
  • "extra hardware"? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by v1 (525388) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @08:16PM (#23426918) Homepage Journal
    For those nations that want dual-boot models, running both Windows and Linux, the extra hardware required will add another $7 or so to the cost of the machines

    Why does dual boot require extra hardware??
  • by peragrin (659227) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @08:19PM (#23426944)
    to run an OS MSFT will stop supporting in 45 days? the OS will run horribly as the hardware isn't fast enough to support XP, and the Interface isn't up to running on a small screen. Not to mention if you ever have any problems and re install you run into WGA activation which requires internet access which may or may not be available to the region in which the system has been deployed.

    Can someone tell me why this makes sense again? or is it more of MSFT buying customers as they can't earn them through capitalistic competition.
    • by whoever57 (658626) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @08:39PM (#23427140) Journal

      to run an OS MSFT will stop supporting in 45 days?
      Under Linux, I assume all the necessary applications are included, whereas under XP, they have...... notepad?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Microsoft is really pushing to get XP onto low cost laptops. They recently started a program to sell XP until 2010 for use on "ULPCs". The OLPC program is seperate though, and could potentially last longer.

      http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/features/2008/apr08/04-03xpeos.mspx
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        That, right there, should tell you something about how much Vista sucks.

        Say what you will about the same bloat being present everywhere, it's simply not true. It may be more difficult, and may no longer support everything the kernel is capable of, but I bet I can still squeeze Linux onto a 1.44 meg floppy.

        XP needs a special version to fit in 2 gigs, and they didn't even try with Vista.
    • by jav1231 (539129) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @09:00PM (#23427332)
      "The people who buy the machines are not the children who use them, but government officials in most cases," said Nicholas Negroponte, founder of the nonprofit group. "And those people are much more comfortable with Windows."

      Somewhere Balmer strokes his horns and drinks a toast to another soul!

  • by johngault33 (1285878) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @08:19PM (#23426948)
    Now, even poor kids can learn to hate M$
  • by Nonillion (266505) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @08:21PM (#23426964)
    Well, so much for a really cool idea. Microsoft will go to any length to have it's shitty OS on anything.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I really hope that's not the end of it.

      I admit, that was my first reaction: Fuck no, I'm not going to buy an XO now, and I'm not going to develop the Sugar UI if it simply ends up being abandoned on 99% of the new laptops being shipped. (In favor of Microsoft Works. Yes, really.)

      Then, I remembered -- one of the earliest documented cases of astroturfing was a couple of Microsoft employees sent to a Linux convention, when a bunch of large corporations started attending -- you know, when there started to be an
  • by presidenteloco (659168) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @08:22PM (#23426990)
    I for one was not looking forward to welcoming a new generation of young, creative, inquisitive, independent minded developing country overlords.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Goaway (82658)
      Wow, you're not just a little presumptuous. So using Linux is the only way to be "creative, inquisitive and independent minded"?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Sentry21 (8183)
        I dunno, I've had to resort to some pretty creative hackery to get hardware working in Linux before, which I had to come up with independently.

        (And before anyone thinks I'm a troll - I once had a sound card whose driver wouldn't load until I did 'cat /proc/isapnp', after which it worked fine for the remainder of the boot).
      • by pizzach (1011925) <pizzach.gmail@com> on Thursday May 15, 2008 @10:22PM (#23428000) Homepage

        Wow, you're not just a little presumptuous. So using Linux is the only way to be "creative, inquisitive and independent minded"?
        I would give the original poster the benefit of the doubt. The man probably meant using ANYTHING but windows means you're "creative, inquisitive and independent minded." (He didn't mention Linux anywhere in his post...though he could have been hinting at it the sneaky bastard.)
  • Pure? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by the_brobdingnagian (917699) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @08:24PM (#23427016) Homepage

    'We've stayed very pure,' Mr. Negroponte said.
    Yet from their core principles:

    There is no inherent external dependency in being able to localize software into their language, fix the software to remove bugs, and repurpose the software to fit their needs. Nor is there any restriction in regard to redistribution; OLPC cannot know and should not control how the tools we create will be re-purposed in the future.
    And they seem to have adapted their "core principles" to be more positive towards closed source. A real shame is you ask me. source: Core Principles [laptop.org] (Renamed to "Five principles" instead of "Core principles" as the seem to value their principles less and less).
  • by conlaw (983784) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @08:27PM (#23427030)

    'We've stayed very pure,' Mr. Negroponte said.

    Yep, as pure as the bride wearing a white dress for her wedding when she's six months pregnant.

  • Phew (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @08:27PM (#23427036)
    That was a close call. For a while there was a threat that emerging countries could grow into the computer world with a fast, reliable and stable platform to develop on.

    Now we drag them down to our level!
  • by nawcom (941663) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @08:28PM (#23427044) Homepage
    IE 7? Office 2007? (in someone's dreams) .NET? (.NET's virtual machine is probably too much to run on OLPCs) If anyone knows what the features are in running windows on these laptops, let me know.

    I used to be a Negroponte fan, but since he allowed the MS move in this project he designed, I am no longer. No, it's not because I'm anti-MS, it's because I thought that this project wasn't a place for competition with commercial software. If MS wants to help out, the should do what Steve Jobs did with OS X: Offer it for Free. No deals, no licensing BS.

    • by snooo53 (663796) * on Thursday May 15, 2008 @11:01PM (#23428302) Journal
      I stopped being a Negroponte fan a while back. The OLPC is an amazing program that has been destroyed by his bad business decisions. He has fought from the very beginning against providing the OLPC to 1st world countries. So instead of simply selling them to anyone for $200 and letting the economies of scale drive the price down, he has doomed the project from ever reaching the goal of a $100 laptop. By forcing 1st world customers (who actually have money) to pay $400 in the give one get one, he has eliminated the vast majority of potential buyers. So what if he allows Windows on the system? It will never be successful until they stop fighting market forces.
      • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@nOSPAM.beau.org> on Friday May 16, 2008 @01:52AM (#23429412)
        > He has fought from the very beginning against providing the OLPC
        > to 1st world countries.

        That was when those of us with a clue smelled a rat. If they really cost what they claim there was zero reason not to do exactly that and allow the 1st world customers to help lower the cost by bootstrapping the volume. I started smelling a typical UN style debacle where cost overruns would be cost shifted.

        > By forcing 1st world customers (who actually have money) to pay $400
        > in the give one get one, he has eliminated the vast majority of
        > potential buyers.

        The G1G1 program was targeted entirely at do gooders who thought they were helping someone in the third world. Wonder what they think now that they have learned they spent an extra $200 to supply some kid with a free hit of XP.
  • Maybe (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Corpuscavernosa (996139) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @08:29PM (#23427058)
    this could extend XP's life a little longer until a non-shitty version of Windows comes out? (insert joke here) I realize we could be waiting awhile. I use Linux for most things but I just can't get away from my PC gaming!
  • by Morgaine (4316) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @08:35PM (#23427092)

    Windows will add a bit to the price of the machines, about $3, the licensing fee Microsoft charges to some developing nations under a program called Unlimited Potential. ... [cut] ... The project's agreement with Microsoft involves no payment by the software giant.

    What? That's totally ridiculous. It means that the XO becomes nothing more than a vehicle for transfer of money from 3rd world children to Microsoft.

    Whoever thought that idea up at OLPC has shit for brains.

    Microsoft should be *PAYING* for the privilege of getting its O/S installed on a machine to which it contributed absolutely nothing during development, and which will become an instrument of propaganda for Microsoft among the children of the world.

    OLPC guys, you've really dropped the ball on this one, and forgotten that the XO was not intended as a normal western product for exploitation of consumers.
  • Support? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by iamacat (583406) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @08:38PM (#23427132)
    I wonder if it means Microsoft is prepared to support XP for at least another 10 years. Developing countries may be able to pay $200/laptop, but not $200/laptop/year. If a school goes with XP solution and some critical patch, such as a revision of IPV6 support, is needed, will they have to buy new laptops to run Windows 2015 or whatever?
  • by joeflies (529536) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @08:43PM (#23427192)
    Although it is being presented as Microsoft doing some good contributed to the project, I wonder if we could compare Gates Foundation money will flow to OLPC after the XP version is for sale. That could be the kind of non-profit pressure that would make the change of heart towards adoption of Microsoft software seem more understandable.

    Comparing the money involved, OLPC = $200, OLPC + XP = $207, and Windows XP Home = $199. Hard to really explain why there is such a desire for Microsoft to cut the costs so deep just to get involved in this project. I'm sure it's not corporate altruism.
  • by athloi (1075845) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @08:47PM (#23427228) Homepage Journal
    $3? I wonder what they want for Vista... $0.50?
  • Sad news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chord.wav (599850) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @08:53PM (#23427272) Journal
    I Can't believe people, even inside Microsoft, can see this as a good thing. This is like McDonalds bullying and lobbying to make the BigMac the preferred choice for UN's world food programme, and succeeding. And having people like Negroponte not mad about it just makes me think there's little to no hope.
  • So much for that. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dragonfire00 (1099913) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @08:54PM (#23427280)
    Off the OLPC website:
    "XO is built from free and open-source software. Our commitment to software freedom gives children the opportunity to use their laptops on their own terms. While we do not expect every child to become a programmer, we do not want any ceiling imposed on those children who choose to modify their machines. We are using open-document formats for much the same reason: transparency is empowering. The children--and their teachers--will have the freedom to reshape, reinvent, and reapply their software, hardware, and content."
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by jav1231 (539129)
      Balmer: "Hey, Nicky? Balmer here. Hey that little blurb about "open formats" and "no ceiling" for the OLPC, yeah you need to take that down, Man. Yeah. Yes, THEN I'll give you back you're testicles. I promise...no I'm not crossing my hideously devilish fingers. Okay....thanks, Buddy.:

  • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Thursday May 15, 2008 @08:57PM (#23427310) Homepage Journal
    congratulations, it's dead. Can OLPC be saved from Negroponte?

  • by hurfy (735314) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @08:57PM (#23427314)
    Seems odd that getting people indoctrinated into MS culture is so much more valuable than the hit to your reputation from a shitty user experience. Face it, while it might run XP, trying to run a program and XP must totally suck on that little thing.

    They are quite confident of their monopoly it would seem.

    There will be (hopefully) a million kids growing up thinking 'Windows is sooooo sloooow'

    If i was in charge i don't think i would let windows only versions ship as then they think the same about you.
  • End of a dream (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jav1231 (539129) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @09:06PM (#23427370)
    Essentially, this can win/win Microsoft. If few adopt the project then so what? They will have shit-canned a rival to the Classmate. If it takes off, then a host of new addicts will come back to Microsoft and pay some day. In the end Negroponte's dream is sufficiently squashed. With so much of the world embracing OSS and many of those involved in the project pushing it too the OLPC has become less desirable. Who's laughing? Microsoft and Intel.

  • by mlwmohawk (801821) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @09:11PM (#23427416)
    Sorry, Negroponte you've sold your soul. You've sold out your once inspiring dream.

    Sorry, this is the pure outrage: You fucking suck.

    We believed, we helped, YOU SUCK.

  • Choice is Good (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MBC1977 (978793) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @09:43PM (#23427656) Journal
    The best way to beat something is to let them have the choice. They can choose to use Linux or not choose to. Either way, all of the negative energy because people have been given a choice seems strange to me. First, you claim you want Linux to be an option to buy, now that its Windows thats an option (rather than the default for once), you complain. Choice is a dual-edged sword. Not everyone wants to be a part of the "free as in speech" camp, just like not everyone wants to pay for software.

    Besides, I know people would claimed foul if MS gave it away for free, so Linux DOES have an advantage here.
  • using the Moblin [moblin.org] stack that will ultimately surpass the XO no matter what's running on it.
  • by spitzak (4019) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @10:15PM (#23427938) Homepage
    A lot of people have just wasted a vast amount of time contributing software to this device. They could have said this was the plan from the start and maybe those people could have concentrated on hardware drivers or interesting Windows software for it. Instead an awful lot of man years of contributed effort is wasted by this moronic decision (no, not the decision to switch to XP. The decision to, for years, lie about what direction they were going, apparently to garner publicity).

    I really am sickened by this.
  • OLPC (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2008 @10:30PM (#23428056)
    One Lame PC.
  • I don't see why... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Belial6 (794905) on Friday May 16, 2008 @12:41AM (#23429034)
    I don't see why anyone should be surprised. The OLPC was clearly designed as a free R&D project from the beginning. Not free as in speech, but free as in, "hey, lets CALL it a charity. That way we don't have to fork out money for our R&D". When the OLPC was listed out at $100 I said it was way too expensive. I went on line and found all of the components to build a hand powered computer for $89. Single Unit Pricing. No, this wouldn't get you an x86 processor, or an 800x600 screen, but is that REALLY Necessary? The OLPC was billed as being for education. Do you really need a late 90's to early 2000's x86 to accomplish that goal? Definitely not. Do you really need WiFi? Definitely not. Do you need cameras? No. The whole design was clearly built around the idea of trying out new low power devices for later sale in the 1st world.

    Honestly the OLPC isn't any better for it's stated goal than a $130 Nintendo DS would be if it came with a dev cart. If they really wanted to make a $200 computer, they would have been better off having Nintendo make a new flavor of DS that was not quite compatible, had an Black and White screen, and had an SD slot instead of a cartridge slot. It wouldn't have broken Nintendos 1st world market, yet it would have been just as useful, and less expensive than the OLPC.

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