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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 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @08:29PM (#23427056) Journal
    Why does dual boot require extra hardware??

    More storage probably.


    If so, that means shorter battery life - even when the memory isn't being used. (Even if you turn off the clocking, leakage current is a honking big fraction of power consumption with the recent generations of semiconductors.)

    So by changing the machine to handle Windows (and raising its price) they've also reduced one aspect of its functionality under a free OS.
  • 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.
  • by frank_adrian314159 (469671) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @08:37PM (#23427118) Homepage
    Why does dual boot require extra hardware??

    To make sure the one with Linux costs more...

  • 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?
  • 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 Goaway (82658) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @08:45PM (#23427206) Homepage
    Wow, you're not just a little presumptuous. So using Linux is the only way to be "creative, inquisitive and independent minded"?
  • by hurfy (735314) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @08:45PM (#23427216)
    Bigger SD card

    XO has 1 Gig and needs a 1 Gig SD card to run XP. I assume to add another OS you would need a 2 Gig card instead as XP has sucked up all your storage.

    No idea what you could actually RUN on it or where you store apps to try and run on it but.....

  • by mrbluze (1034940) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @08:47PM (#23427224) Journal
    closing gates and not opening them. There is nothing philanthropic about enslaving people with money.
  • 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.
  • by PaintyThePirate (682047) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @08:55PM (#23427298) Homepage
    That's essentially what Negroponte has boiled the project down to by letting Sugar dev's out of the loop. Many, Walter Bender included, have gone to start Sugar Labs [sugarlabs.org] to ensure that Sugar remains available regardless of what OLPC does.

    It destroys the "It's an education project, not a laptop project." to not ship with an operating system and educational software.
  • 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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2008 @09:05PM (#23427368)
    How will they know it's so slow if they've never used a computer before?
  • 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.

  • Stallman (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2008 @09:06PM (#23427372)
    I'm pretty sure the cocksucker who wrote the article doesn't really get free software. I think the point is that many individuals, such as myself for example, want for themselves a platform including development tools that are entirely open and free as in both freedom and beer. I want to learn by looking at other people's code and I want to create without paying fees everywhere for every tool I need with someone else deciding the parameters or tools with which I am allowed to create. That's why I choose, for myself, to participate in the world of free software.

    As for kids around the world they may or may not decide they want that for themselves. However, the freedom of free software certainly empowers them to create and learn in any way they choose to without the cost and limitations set by a greedy foreign entity who has a fundamental conflict of interest with the freedom of individuals. It would be arguably unethical to subjugate these students, as so many negligent IT professionals have done for their companies, to the closed blood sucking world of Microsoft. A single potent example is Microsoft's persistence to keep standards closed, even when they're faking making them open, so that THEY can control how much you pay to see your data and documents. They have abundant engineering talent to fix that problem but choose not to in order to control their customers.

    The self-serving asshole who wrote the article tried to set up Stallman as having some abstract political agenda that Stallman puts first. The author misses the point entirely. The empowerment of free software enables especially people with limited resources to explore their own potential, if they choose to do so.
  • Re:Maybe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@NOspaM.hotmail.com> on Thursday May 15, 2008 @09:09PM (#23427400) Journal
    this could extend XP's life a little longer until a non-shitty version of Windows comes out?

    I believe MS has finally set an appropriate value on their OS. $3.00 is a fair price.

    Now governments of the world should mandate a price cap for all versions of XP, based on that value. Otherwise Microsoft is using price dumping to drive out competitors, an illegal tactic for a monopoly.

  • 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.

  • 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 JSBiff (87824) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @09:15PM (#23427466) Journal
    As the parent mentions, this isn't OLPC 'dumping' Linux. They are just giving the countries who will be buying these things another option for Windows. Probably a waste on that hardware, but, really, I do believe some countries probably *want* Windows on the laptops. They probably feel that if they are going to educate kids about computers, the kids should get some exposure to Windows. I don't think that's entirely unreasonable.

    I don't want people to take away from this that I am a MS fanboi - I very much am not. But, why shouldn't the purchasing countries have the option to get Windows if they want it? I hope people don't totally abandon OLPC in terms of quitting the development of software for the Linux-based SugarOS, in protest against this. This just makes it that much more important that the Open Source/Free Software communities continue to work with OLPC and make the Free Software available for it the best they can. In fact, I have a bit of a prediction. I think this whole thing will fall apart of it's own accord when Microsoft can't actually get Windows XP to run decently on the XO, so as long as the Free Software developers don't walk away in protest, I bet they will end up using the Linux based software in the end.

    There is only, mainly, one question I walk away from this with, however - from what I've seen of SugarOS so far, I don't really think it matter much, from a user's perspective, what is running underneath it (what I mean by that is, while the laptops might be slower and more prone to crash with Windows [or maybe not], the *user interface experience* will be the same - that is to say, all the kids will see is Sugar, right?). So, I guess I wonder, from OLPC's standpoint, *why* they would bother putting the Windows XP kernel underneath of it, if the kids are just basically going to be using the same SugarOS and the applications developed for it. Why not use the Linux kernel which is better to begin with than the XP kernel, and has already, and continues to be, tuned just for the OLPC hardware?
  • Wow (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rastoboy29 (807168) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @09:22PM (#23427514) Homepage
    How depressing....
  • 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.
  • by Methuselah2 (1173677) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @09:51PM (#23427728)
    Well, what would be the first program you'd load on an XP XO?
    Firewall.
    Second?
    Antivirus.
    Third?
    Spyware/malware scanner/protection.
    Fourth?
    "Error xpxo, Out of Disk Space. Contact your system administrator."
  • exactly correct (Score:5, Insightful)

    by r00t (33219) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @09:52PM (#23427742) Journal
    Folks, this guy is +42 Extra Super Insightful.

    Dual-boot will be developed to pacify some OLPC supporters. It will never ship.

    Likewise, Sugar will be ported to Windows. It too will never ship. Nobody wants it: not the we-want-Windows government officials, not the free software fans, and certainly not Microsoft. Look at Java and JavaScript if you want to know how Microsoft feels about somebody slapping a portable API or ABI over top of the Microsoft-controlled ones.
  • 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 Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2008 @10:07PM (#23427880)
    I see the Russian mob happily contributing $3 per laptop to the project now,
  • 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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2008 @10:22PM (#23427998)

    Wow, you're not just a little presumptuous. So using Linux is the only way to be "creative, inquisitive and independent minded"?
    No. Other Free and Open Source Software systems exist; Linux just represents the most popular.

    FOSS represents a major part of OLPC's purpose: give kids a system they can tinker with at every level. One of them may well become the next creative genius. If they can't tinker with the system, part of that creativity goes away; they can only create in the ways the software authors envision.

    This doesn't mean they have to become a creative software genius. It means that they can become a creative genius in some other area, and knowing how to work with software gave them the tools to get there.

    Imagine a society where *everybody* knew how to program as a matter of course.
  • by pizzach (1011925) <pizzach@NosPAM.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.)
  • Duh.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by crhylove (205956) <rhy@leperkhanz.com> on Thursday May 15, 2008 @10:26PM (#23428026) Homepage Journal
    Did anybody here actually try Sugar? I'd have replaced it with ms dos in a heart beat. And XP is clearly superior. If only they'd have been smart and initially went with some type of xubuntu derivative, or something that made some kind of rational sense, we'd have not lost yet another battle to the corporate monopoly.

    It's not that Windows is better. It's just that Microsoft is smarter than the passionate FOSS community who is apparently stubborn and arrogant, and completely unaware of what is usable or not, Sugar being an AMAZING example.
  • by IgnoramusMaximus (692000) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @10:26PM (#23428028)

    Do I think the world needs to use Linux more? Absolutely. Do I think that the OLPC is the best way to do it? No.

    I think the point whizzed above your head at orbital altitude and velocity.

    Linux has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with this, it is the openness which Linux simply represents.

    The whole point of the project was supposed to be enabling kids to learn to use/program computers and so the whole environment was supposed to provide them with a complete set of tools for such tasks. Putting XP on this thing adds nothing whatsoever to the value of such a laptop as XP not only takes away a degree of openness but it offers none of the other elements which are part of pretty much every Linux distribution: educational tools, text and graphics editing applications, development tools etc etc etc all in the storage space in which XP can barely fit itself.

    So by essentially totally selling out, Negroponte has in effect killed the project and turned it into a glorified advertising campaign for Microsoft while at the same time dropping all the core objectives the project was supposed to stand for. The winners are: Microsoft, the corrupt, retarded governmental official in the developed countries who are taking kickbacks from Microsoft to push for Windows, regardless of what it actually means for the project and the losers are: the kids.

    Also note that by doing this the OLPC now has become simply yet another low cost low power laptop vendor and as ongoing commoditization of hardware progresses apace, they will soon find themselves competing with the likes of ASUS who will be able to deliver more features for less money. The only thing of course ASUS and other low-cost brands won't do is to offer all the other aspects of the project, which Negroponte himself no longer gives a fuck about, and which were what made OLPC different.

    Microsoft wins, some crooks get richer, all the kids in the developing world (and probably some in the Western world) lose. Simple as that.

  • by Tatsh (893946) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @10:30PM (#23428062)
    I thought one of the major goals of the OLPC project was to promote usage of free software. As for now, I would say the best choice is a Linux-derived operating system (kernel has the best hardware support as far I know). If Microsoft is a choice, fine, but I seriously think the Windows market share is shrinking every day. It seems like everyone and their relative wants a Mac lately after Vista has come out.

    Regardless, I really think OLPC has lost its focus and I have so much less respect for allowing a totally closed operating system to be a choice for the computers. If they allow FreeBSD, Syllable, and other free open source operating systems, that is fine. They may not have necessarily have everything they need for children to learn from, but they are free and open source.

    Linux and whatever distro is the best choice. How many 'edutainment' applications are on Windows by default? 0! Everyone knows Windows is hardly useful on a default install: a file manager, calculator, Soliatire (a few other card games), a really horrible browser, and a really horrible media player. Does Microsoft promote open source development? No! They have 'Express' editions of Visual Studio, but that is exactly it. They are 'Express' editions. They are begging for people to stick with Windows when they do things like this. And now they have .NET claiming it is the way of the future, mainly because C# is easier to learn than C or C++ (in my experience).

    This is not the way to go for OLPC. It is terrible that governments have these choices: promote free software, development, learning, and social contribution; or spend a little more money for an OS that is nearly useless by default, and the people who use it will be locked in once they are settled with whatever software they find to use. Most likely the software they choose to use on Windows will have spyware, and they will use IE (do you think Microsoft will promote another browser?!) and get adware/spyware/crappy toolbars. I cannot wait to have even more infested Windows computers connected on-line, which could do damage (this is precisely the reason why IE7 got non-WGA'd by Microsoft: security). Luckily I'm on Linux 90% of the time.
  • by McGiraf (196030) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @10:37PM (#23428118) Homepage
    Windows whitout crap is nothing.
  • 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 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 1u3hr (530656) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @11:22PM (#23428464)
    I don't understand what it is Microsoft think they are going to get out of this. There's no point in applying ven-duh lock-in to people who literally can't afford to buy your products...

    There are many excellent reasons. Some of the students will grow up and start businesses, requiring computers. They will choose what is familiar to them. That's why MS virtually gives away software to universities. In the bigger picture, MS is trying to keep a lid on the development of alternative OSs anywhere. If a few million PCs in one country are running Linux, it creates a big enough user population (even if mostly using free software) that people will develop all kinds of solutions using it as a base. And when road tested and reliable, there is no reason these could not be sold into the first world.

    That's why Ballmer will fly all over the world and pay any government or other large organisations that start making noises about shifting to Linux. It takes a strong government to reject fistfuls of money. They may honestly feel they are serving their people better by taking MS's money, as Negroponte obviously does. In the short and medium term they may be right.

  • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary @ y a hoo.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 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.

  • Re:Pure? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Heather D (1279828) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @11:33PM (#23428562)
    Well, of course. It's easier to stay pure and true to one's principles when those principles are subject to revision.
  • 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 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 ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@NOspaM.hotmail.com> on Friday May 16, 2008 @12:19AM (#23428874) Journal
    anything that helps accelerate empowerment to those that couldn't previously get it is a plus in my book

    They're not being empowered.

    They're being subjugated.

  • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@NOspaM.hotmail.com> on Friday May 16, 2008 @12:24AM (#23428912) Journal
    teaching kids in undeveloped countries to use Microsoft Word

    MS Works, not MS Word.

    Also shows the lie that it's worth teaching them the "industry standard" apps.

  • by Hal_Porter (817932) on Friday May 16, 2008 @12:32AM (#23428962)
    Funny how your favourite OS, o3zone [slashdot.org] uses the same VMS inspired IRQL idea too [o3one.org].
  • 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.
  • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@NOspaM.hotmail.com> on Friday May 16, 2008 @12:42AM (#23429046) Journal
    There you go with the hyperbolic language.

    This is OLPC's vision;

    The core principal that's repeated often about the project is that it's an education project not a laptop project. Part of delivering on that idea is the open source platform.
    Microsoft's vision is to lock the developing world into their expensive platform. Why else would they be doing this?
  • 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 Gay for Linux (942545) * on Friday May 16, 2008 @01:47AM (#23429388)
    Mod this man up. It's exactly as Negroponte said in the article, people seem to think the point of the project is to support FOSS and not get laptops to kids. OLPC isn't here to promote Linux, it's to get technology into the hands of the underprivileged.
  • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Friday May 16, 2008 @02:08AM (#23429490) Journal
    Go play with Sugar, and then tell me that XP can add anything to that.

    One keystroke reveals the source to any program you're running. You can edit that source, then go back to the program to see the results. Another key resets it to the original, in case you screw it up.

    Tell me that's not about open source. More importantly, tell me that's not about learning.

    Also, I call bullshit on this:

    B. Microsoft is a for-profit business.
    So for every million laptops sold, Microsoft gets 3 million dollars -- for a company which makes fifty billion dollars a year.

    It would be a drop in the bucket for them to give this away -- it would likely have been worth the positive PR -- but they didn't. It's not enough for them to destroy what OLPC is doing, they have to squeeze every last cent out of it in the process.

    If they're NOT better off in the long run I'd like to hear why that is exactly.
    Other posts have said it better than I have, but let me put it this way: Starting from the ground up, Linux provides more possibilities than Windows does. All of the things Windows is good at will be irrelevant to these kids.

    The question is, when they grow up and start building businesses, and building their countries, will they be paying another $3 here, $5 there to Microsoft? Or will they be supporting each other, as a community?
  • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@NOspaM.hotmail.com> on Friday May 16, 2008 @02:10AM (#23429506) Journal
    Because if they start giving out free licensed copies, other users might get even more annoyed with MS's stance on software piracy and DRM.

    That's the trap MS is building for themselves here.

    All the OEMS paying $50/copy for their versions will be looking very closely at OLPC's costs now.

    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?

  • 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 evanbd (210358) on Friday May 16, 2008 @04:02AM (#23430186)
    Huh. Here I was thinking that the point was education, and that software with the source available was an important part of that.
  • 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&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 Hucko (998827) on Friday May 16, 2008 @06:23AM (#23430946)
    The hardware specs were what got people excited , but the sucker punch was in the software being designed to encourage curiosity and learning. The theory is to submerge children into a saturated, enjoyable learning environment and that would promote life long learning in the children -- a seed that gave birth to the knowledge economy ideologies.
  • by dintech (998802) on Friday May 16, 2008 @06:27AM (#23430974)
    I agree that this smells like a bad deal and I love Linux. However, open source advocates should also be careful not turn this education project into a battleground.
  • 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.
  • Not to mention (Score:3, Insightful)

    by keirre23hu (638913) <j2k4real AT gmail DOT com> on Friday May 16, 2008 @07:09AM (#23431162) Homepage
    Now the kids will have to get used to patch Tuesday and Blue Screen of Death and DLL hell. Yep, great way to introduce the youngsters of the world to computing.
  • by quibbler (175041) on Friday May 16, 2008 @07:47AM (#23431384)

    Take a giant step back, this is like holding a charity telathon to fight hunger, then taking the donations and using them to build a few hundred McDonalds in the inner city, and handing out 'half off' coupons to the poor neighborhood kids to help them with their empty stomachs..

    I think Negroponte and the rest of the board could be personally liable for conversion and fraud. They raised enormous support from the community in the form of programming efforts, money, and time under the guise of FOSS only to turn the whole thing over to directly support Microsoft's strategy for commercial success in the third-world. One is left wondering how long ago Negroponte planned this and what his personal gain is from the deal.

    Remember, when you're on the board of an organization -even a nonprofit, you can't just act on your own whim. Save The Dolphins can't just go open up a gill-netting operation and cackle merrily all the way to the bank, the board has a fiduciary duty to stakeholders that binds their actions. I, for one, would love to see them all thrown in jail.

    How about it? Go go gadget EFF!

  • by rbanffy (584143) on Friday May 16, 2008 @07:59AM (#23431470) Homepage Journal
    'Okay, here, install it all you want, this is on us.'

    That would be called dumping.
  • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@NOspaM.hotmail.com> on Friday May 16, 2008 @08:05AM (#23431510) Journal
    So what you're saying is that OLPC exists for the sake of Linux.

    No.

    Linux exists for the sake of the community.

    XP exists for the sake of Microsoft.

  • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@NOspaM.hotmail.com> on Friday May 16, 2008 @08:13AM (#23431566) Journal
    open source advocates should also be careful not turn this education project into a battleground.

    Open source advocates?

    Are you blind? Microsoft and Intel have been attacking this project since it started. If it's a battleground, it's because FOSS people are trying to keep it alive.

  • 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 mhall119 (1035984) on Friday May 16, 2008 @09:22AM (#23432166) Homepage Journal

    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.
    And if this were Intel or ASUS or Everex that would be an acceptable reason. But the goal of OLPC wasn't to give governments what they wanted, it was to give children what they needed to learn. Distributing XO laptops with Windows on them would be a failure of their primary goal.
  • by poot_rootbeer (188613) on Friday May 16, 2008 @10:21AM (#23432982)
    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 got that feeling when Mary Lou Jepsen -- the OLPC CTO, the person most directly responsible for the hardware design of the XO-1, including the fantastic transflective 1200x900 screen -- left the organization in December. As with the Apple Computer, it was the hardware innovation that served as the foundation for everything else groundbreaking.
  • by mhall119 (1035984) on Friday May 16, 2008 @10:54AM (#23433628) Homepage Journal

    Do you really need to see the source of EVERYTHING to learn?
    You do if you want to learn about EVERYTHING. The original goal of the OLPC, as I understood it when the project started, was to give children a laptop that they could maintain, modify, and inspect in every way possible. Every application was supposed to have a "View Source" button so they could see how it worked, could change how it worked, and could share their changes with others. You couldn't do that with Windows.

    I learned the principals of how OSes work, without ever seeing the source to Windows.
    I'm guessing you either learned how OSes work based on non-windows OSes, or you have only a general detached knowledge of how an OS works. The Goal of OLPC, again as I understood it, was not to give a general knowledge of the principles of computing, but to give them the tools that they needed to do whatever they wanted with those computers. Again, Windows doesn't let you do that.

    Also, the goal is education, not necessarly teaching children to program. If Windows runs all the educational software that was planned, what's the problem?
    It's not just about the educational software, it's about software education. It's "teach a man to fish" combined with "teach a man how to make a fishing pole". Windows is "teach a man to fish only with a pole he can't make or modify himself".

    Especially given that, whether you like it or not, knowing Windows is almost a requirement.
    Where is knowing Windows a requirement? Poor kids in the Congo aren't going to become paper-pushing cube-dwellers in rural America. For the vast majority of the world, knowing Windows is _not_ a requirement. Just because the US and Canada are too deeply invested in Microsoft to even think of using anything else, doesn't mean the rest of the world is the same way.
  • by PeterKraus (1244558) <peter.kraus@member.fsf.org> on Friday May 16, 2008 @11:13AM (#23433986) Homepage
    The main point here is the support, the reliability, the cost. Show me, please, how does that benefit from including MS in the bucket?

    I don't think MS on the machines will add to reliability much more, if something at all. The support - okey, if they run into problems, they can call Microsoft, right? But will MS be flexible enough to fix the problem in places like OLPC is going to be developed? And the closed-source nature won't help at all with that... So, is it worth the 10$ more? I don't think so.
  • by plague3106 (71849) on Friday May 16, 2008 @12:30PM (#23435404)
    You do if you want to learn about EVERYTHING.

    But you don't need to see a specific implmenetation to see how something works.

    The original goal of the OLPC, as I understood it when the project started, was to give children a laptop that they could maintain, modify, and inspect in every way possible. Every application was supposed to have a "View Source" button so they could see how it worked, could change how it worked, and could share their changes with others. You couldn't do that with Windows.

    The goal as I understood it was to be a learning tool. Do you have something from archive.org that says otherwise? You can maintain software without seeing the source.

    It's not just about the educational software, it's about software education. It's "teach a man to fish" combined with "teach a man how to make a fishing pole". Windows is "teach a man to fish only with a pole he can't make or modify himself".

    Can you make a 100% exact duplicate? Actually with software you likely can, given enough time. But I learned "how to fish" without ever seeing the source code for Windows or Unix, Unix being my primary development platform in college.

    Where is knowing Windows a requirement? Poor kids in the Congo aren't going to become paper-pushing cube-dwellers in rural America. For the vast majority of the world, knowing Windows is _not_ a requirement. Just because the US and Canada are too deeply invested in Microsoft to even think of using anything else, doesn't mean the rest of the world is the same way.

    Well, you're just showing how out of touch you are. Given that the countries which this product was aimed at sited "doesn't run Windows" as a reason they weren't interested, I'd say it is a requirement. More people work on the Windows platform than anything else.

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