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Microsoft Operating Systems Portables Software Windows Hardware Technology

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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  • Re:"extra hardware"? (Score:2, Informative)

    by nawcom (941663) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @07:20PM (#23426958) Homepage
    the initial hardware design of the olpc isn't enough to run xp. simple as that. I find it hilarious that they couldn't get it to run xp with what the laptop already has. That tells you something. heh. btw i haven't RTFA yet, so if I'm wrong, someone correct me.
  • Re:"extra hardware"? (Score:3, Informative)

    by whoever57 (658626) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @07:20PM (#23426960) Journal

    Why does dual boot require extra hardware??
    Disk space to store two OSes?
  • Re:"extra hardware"? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Rinisari (521266) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @07:21PM (#23426970) Homepage Journal
    More storage probably. Windows XP is a beast, at ~3 GB for a full install IIRC. Even shrunk down hardcore, it's probably still at least 1.5 GB.
  • Re:"extra hardware"? (Score:5, Informative)

    by PaintyThePirate (682047) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @07:44PM (#23427204) Homepage
    It's a 2gb SD card. Linux would be on the 1gb NAND flash and Windows would boot off of SD.
  • So much for that. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dragonfire00 (1099913) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @07:54PM (#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."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2008 @08:09PM (#23427402)
    Actually is a special pack OS, they add MS Works with a basic access, word, excel and powerpoint reader.
    Many countries are getting this special packed OS through the MS's Unlimited Potential program.
    MS has given it to thousands of schools already in third world countries.
    Now they just deploying it on the XO mini-laptop as well.
  • using the Moblin [moblin.org] stack that will ultimately surpass the XO no matter what's running on it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2008 @09:25PM (#23428018)
    Actually, XP is faster than Sugar/Linux on the XO right now. We hope to change that soon!

    As explained at: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/AnnounceFAQ ,
    dual-boot is the agreed upon configuration, once OpenFirmware is fully qualified as a Windows-ready BIOS. The key is keeping OpenFirmware on the laptops so that a later Linux installation can take full advantage of the low power modes of the XO, without requiring an always risky BIOS upgrade. Windows on OFW (dual boot), and Window-only versions will suffer from reduced battery life compared to Linux on OFW (single or dual boot).

    They are quite confident of their monopoly it would seem.
    Monopoly ? Ha! See http://www.liliputing.com/2008/04/over-past-six-months-or-so-asus-everex_24.html

    And thanks to http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/ we can rest assured that any software developed by OLPC will run on these machines.

    Microsoft supporting the XO means that OLPC is finally succeeding enough to draw their attention. You have to be tread carefully once an 800 lb. gorilla starts getting amorous! This agreement is announcing that Windows XP runs on the XO, and that MS is gonna buy some machines, install XP, and run trials. Big whoop.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2008 @10:21PM (#23428454)

    The US is a net importer [findarticles.com] of agricultural produce.

    Softwar e is booming [computerworld.com.au] as an economic phenomenon. I'm not as confident as you though that it's a ball which will stay in US hands in the long term.

  • Re:Purity (Score:5, Informative)

    by Miseph (979059) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @10:33PM (#23428556) Journal
    From your own link:

    "OLPC should be philosophically pure about its own machines. Being a non-profit that leverages goodwill from a tremendous number of community volunteers for its success and whose core mission is one of social betterment, it has a great deal of social responsibility. It should not become a vehicle for creating economic incentives for a particular vendor. It should not believe the nonsense about Windows being a requirement for business after the children grow up. Windows is a requirement because enough people grew up with it, not the other way around. If OLPC made a billion people grow up with Linux, Linux would be just dandy for business. And OLPC shouldn't make its sole OS one that cripples the very hardware that supposedly set the project's laptops apart: released versions of Windows can neither make good use of the XO power management, nor its full mesh or advanced display capabilities."

    (bold added by me)

    I hope MS pays you by the quantity of your shilling rather than the quality.
  • 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 SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Friday May 16, 2008 @12:42AM (#23429362) Journal
    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 jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@b[ ].org ['eau' in gap]> on Friday May 16, 2008 @12:52AM (#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.
  • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@hotmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Friday May 16, 2008 @01:03AM (#23429460) Journal
    OLPC isn't here to promote Linux, it's to get technology into the hands of the underprivileged.

    Microsoft evangelists keep spinning it that way, but it's a lie.

    Repeat after me: OLPC is an education project, not a technology project.

  • by l0b0 (803611) on Friday May 16, 2008 @01:43AM (#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.

  • Re:"extra hardware"? (Score:5, Informative)

    by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@hotmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Friday May 16, 2008 @01:56AM (#23429792) Journal
    Bigger SD card

    Not just the bigger card.

    Nicholas Negroponte, OLPC chairman, told vnunet.com at the NetEvents conference in Hong Kong on Saturday: "I have known [Microsoft chairman] Bill Gates his entire adult life. We talk, we meet one-on-one, we discuss this project.

    "We put in an SD slot in the machine just for Bill. We didn't need it but the OLPC machines are at Microsoft right now, getting Windows put on them."
    http://www.vnunet.com/vnunet/news/2170267/update-green-party-labels [vnunet.com]

    So that additional cost was mandated by Microsoft from the start.
  • by Hal_Porter (817932) on Friday May 16, 2008 @02:02AM (#23429832)
    Actually MS has already agreed to do that. XP will be kept alive for ultraportables.

    http://www.notebookreview.com/default.asp?newsID=4345 [notebookreview.com]

    And I'm sure there are enough corporate customers rejecting Vista that it will be keep being sold on other machines too, at least until the next Windows release.

    It's no biggie really, they just need to keep providing security updates. And they're committed to that anyway until 2014. I guess adding a few years to that doesn't cost much.

    http://support.microsoft.com/lifecycle/?LN=en-us&p1=3223&x=14&y=9# [microsoft.com]

    Actually I wish they just commit to selling XP and providing security patches for 20 years or something. It wouldn't cost them much and it runs a hell of lot better than Vista on low end hardware. In fact for most machines, it's pretty much the best OS ever.
  • by johannesg (664142) on Friday May 16, 2008 @03:18AM (#23430270)
    But let us be very clear about this: they have won because the OLPC project caved, NOT because the developers leave. There is no blaming the volunteers who were writing the software.

  • by hey! (33014) on Friday May 16, 2008 @04:57AM (#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 Hucko (998827) on Friday May 16, 2008 @05:05AM (#23430834)
    No, it is(was) a constructivist education project using tech to make education and collaboration resources cheap and accessible.
  • by SL Baur (19540) <steve@xemacs.org> on Friday May 16, 2008 @07:07AM (#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 Anonymous Coward on Friday May 16, 2008 @09:30AM (#23433152)

    What OLPC should do is lock MS into the $3.00/license, then sell as many XOs in the commercial sphere as they can. Can you imagine the outcry from all the OEMs who are trying to compete in the cheap mini-notebook market, but are paying ten times the license fees?
    Microsoft has already considered this [networkworld.com]. They are proposing to only license the cheap versions of XP for machines with less than 10.2 inches of screen, less than 80G of storage, and no touch screen. Any mini-notebook breaking these limitations is safe within its niche, as competitors will not be getting Windows cheaper.

    (Coincidentally, the next version of the XO has a proposed touchscreen, so some aspect of the MS/OLPC situation is due to change.)

  • by hey! (33014) on Friday May 16, 2008 @11:16AM (#23435138) Homepage Journal
    What's confusing to you is that you're mixing up three different classes of things: non-profit organizations; non-profit organizations with a charitable purpose; and non-profit organizations with a charitable purpose that qualify for Federal tax exemption under section 501(c) 3 of the tax code. Each of these succeeding classes is smaller than the previous one.

    Even under 501(c), there are twenty seven other sections under which a non-profit can qualify for some degree of tax exemption. Veterans organizations qualify under 501(c)19, for example. Not all non-profits are charitable (e.g. private clubs); not all charitable organizations are tax exempt; not all tax exempt organizations are exempt under 501(c)3.

    But even for 501(c)3s, the analysis stands: you must make a profit. The profit goes into next year's budget, or into the endowment. You can't distribute the profit for the private benefit of a set of "owners", say the board or people who control the board.

    Of course, it's not hard to get around this limitation. I could tell you stories that would would shock you, and they're not even the worst things that happen out there. Charity attracts the best and worst of humanity's character, and there is plenty of room for the worst to flourish. No politician is going to go after bad charities, because the rogues and cheaters in charity are well connected and quite expert at taking care of themselves. And no politician wants to be known as the scourge of charities, even though culling the bad ones would be a great service to the good ones.

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