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Microsoft Operating Systems Portables Software Windows Hardware

Microsoft Wants OLPC System to Run Windows XP 553

Stony Stevenson passed us a link to an IT News story about Microsoft's recent request that the folks behind the XO laptop redesign it to suit their needs. The company now wants to be able to run Windows XP on the highly-publicized and inexpensive portable. "Microsoft general manager ... Utzschneider says a shrunken version of Windows XP could potentially run on 2 Gbytes of flash memory. The XO, however, can only hold 1 Gbyte. As a result, Microsoft wants the XO's designers to add a slot through which more memory can be added via a secure digital (SD) card, Utzschneider said. Microsoft's renewed interest in participating in OLPC might be viewed by skeptics as an admission that a rival offering for developing markets called Classmate — which uses an Intel processor on Microsoft software — has failed to catch on."
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Microsoft Wants OLPC System to Run Windows XP

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  • by hausen ( 1180303 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @05:10PM (#21603295)
    From OLPC's hardware specs page []:
    External connectors
    • Flash Expansion: SD Card slot.
    See also: [] .
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 06, 2007 @05:12PM (#21603347)
    Can't the slot just be mounted before the bootloader? It apparently takes HCSD cards too. []
  • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @05:19PM (#21603471)
    Microsoft don't charge other people what they charge you for Windows. You see, they know you're a sucker so you get to pay the most.
  • by n1hilist ( 997601 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @05:27PM (#21603635)
    1. You're are not legally allowed to share it with your friends, not even for educational use!

    2. Viruses/Spyware - this is a computer designed to give new users an introduction to computing, and a tool for education, can you imagine the grief virii would cause here, especially in a mass scale / network environment.

    3. Cost.

    4. Linux is not communism, Vendor lock-in is.

    I'm a sysadmin at a school in South Africa, the funding is poor, the choices we have are limited. I really feel strongly against bringing M$ into the OLPC scene, these computers are about education, sharing and hopefully the spirit of giving. Not virii, DRM, WGA, Vendor Lock-In and legal woes.

    I for one would not welcome these monopolistic overlords.
  • bizarre story (Score:5, Informative)

    by ywwg ( 20925 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @05:28PM (#21603657) Homepage
    This is a bizarre story, seeing as I've had a 4 gig SD card plugged into my OLPC for more than a year. It's been there the whole time, and there was even an inaccurate rumor that the slot was added just for microsoft. In fact it turned out to cost next to nothing to add the connector.
  • Re:LOL! (Score:2, Informative)

    by danomac ( 1032160 ) * on Thursday December 06, 2007 @05:30PM (#21603699)
    Did you even read the article? Or even the text you quoted? No one is talking about running Vista on that hardware.

    XP might be possible, but I'd wonder about being able to add any software to it.
  • by MikeFM ( 12491 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @05:31PM (#21603717) Homepage Journal
    The XO I have has an SD card slot so I dunno what M$ is smoking.
  • by mrsbrisby ( 60242 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @05:31PM (#21603719) Homepage

    Microsoft has a long history of announcing new vaporware whenever someone does something interesting to try and keep as many people waiting until the Microsoft branded version comes out. Anyone remember Cairo? Microsoft was going to have us using a fulltext searchable metadata-rich filesystem back in the early 1990's so we didn't have to retrain to build on NeXT. Microsoft was going to be bringing us pen-based computers in the late 1980's so nobody should early-adopt with Dylan on Newton.

    They don't have any intention of getting Windows to run on the OLPC. If they can buy enough time for the OLPC to run out of money, they don't have to do anything, and that is more like Microsoft. So long as Microsoft has presence in a market, the market remains stalled, and the state of the art languishes.

  • by dominator ( 61418 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @05:33PM (#21603737) Homepage
    This is old news.

    The important part is to note the verb's tense. MSFT said "we asked OLPC to add a SD card". The OLPC folks complied, and the slot's been there for a while.

    Since I develop some software that's made its way onto the laptop, I managed to pick up a B2 machine a few months ago, complete with SD slot (in the most awkward place - under the monitor but above the keyboard. almost impossible to get to).

    See [], under the "external connectors" section.
  • by drwho ( 4190 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @05:34PM (#21603747) Homepage Journal
    Well, I hope when they come to Cambridge, Microsoft will realize a few things:

    1) The machine is in production. It's too late to make hardware changes. Wayyyyy too late.

    2) It's already got an SD slot. And it will hold a 4gb, possibly 8gb, SD device.

    3) OLPC is not really interested in running Windows..or any other proprietary product (even the Marvell Libertas has been a very contentious issue). Go port XP to the XO if you want, but don't expect to be welcomed with open arms.

    4) How can you be so clueless as to the above facts? Perhaps you could blithely ignore #3, but #1 and #2 are pretty evident.
  • by Freeside1 ( 1140901 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @05:42PM (#21603879)
    Yes it does. But I think MS wants another, "internal" slot added. Otherwise this article would be pretty pointless.
  • Re:arrogance (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 06, 2007 @05:51PM (#21604041)
    It already has an SD slot cretins. If you RTFA and RTFA it links to, you'd see that the MS tool couched it in terms of the past "...that's why we _asked_ them to add...". Of course the original troll that wrote the article at IT news contributed to the confusion. However, the last line that says they're planning field trials in January should have given it away since obviously that means at least one XO exists that they think will run Windows.

    Get over yourselves for God's sake, it's another meaningless sound bite in a daily deluge of sound bites.
  • Re:Amazing... (Score:3, Informative)

    by dvice_null ( 981029 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:08PM (#21604335)
    > Now, if only Open Source developers would somehow garner the attention of human interface design and make thinks vastly more polished and less rickety/designed-for-the-nerdgineer, and if people like myself (non-developers)

    I'm an open source developer. Programmer that is. I don't get paid for what I do, nor do I ask to get paid. I would love to be an artist, musician, GUI designer, programmer, tester, everything to be able to make the perfect software but unfortunately I am not. I do the best I can and I don't care whether others help me or not nor am I offended if someone doesn't value the work I do. (I'm not saying that you don't value.)

    But do you know why open source applications are not better than they are? Because programmers are pretty much the only people taking part to these projects. If you want better quality, take part to it. There is always something you can do. Marketing, testing, learning how to make a good GUI and using that knowledge, giving feedback, helping users, sorting bug reports. There is a lot of work to be done that could be done by almost anyone, and a very few people doing it. Mostly the ones doing everything are the developers.

    I'm not asking you to fix it. I'm asking you to help us to fix it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:35PM (#21604787)
    No, the article is referring to the existing SD slot, in what is extremely old and somewhat misleading news. Negroponte has apparently said in several interviews that the SD slot was "added just for Microsoft". It's not clear if this is true, or if he is just kidding, or if he is saying it in an attempt to garner Microsoft's favor. Walter Bender, president of OLPC software and content, gave a different reason for the slot six months ago []:

    I haven't seen the email and don't know the context, but the first-hand history of why there is an SD-card slot on the machine is: (1) We needed to add an ASIC to improve NAND access; (2) We took this as an opportunity to add a video camera contoller at minimal additional cost; (3) At essentially no additional cost, we added an SD-card slot to give the kids more options re storing their videos (at the time, we were only planning on .5G of on-board NAND. While it is probably a cleaner solution for MS to take advantage of SD rather than USB, there was not and still is not room on-board for Windows and there has been from Day One external expansion capability.
    It's not clear why Negroponte appears so eager to work with Microsoft while the rest of the project does not, but there seem to be some political undercurrents at work. Some idle speculation on why he might do such a thing:
    • With Windows running on the XO, the XO can compete directly with other sublaptops on hardware alone. While this runs counter to the project's "education first" goal in the short term, it may lead to longer term success, since the XO is much more rugged than any other candidates (and Linux will probably perform better on the XO than Windows will).
    • With Windows available on all platforms, Microsoft has less incentive to back any one platform and therefore has less incentive use its resources to derail the project.
    • Windows on the XO means that the project can deflect the inflated expectations of individual first-world purchasers onto Microsoft, leaving the OLPC able to focus on the large educational systems that are its primary target.
  • by Bertie ( 87778 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:49PM (#21605005)
    So, Bill, how do you square this with your charitable foundation's efforts to give the Third World a hand up? Because it seems to me like, between this and the Classmate, you'd just like to keep them hooked on Microsoft products, just like you've done with the developed world for the last while. And of course, they'll never get any ownership of the software you'd like them to use, you just want to keep them sucking the Microsoft tit ad infinitum.

    A good friend of mine's just been out in Nigeria, seeing how the OLPC initiative's going down and reporting on it for the BBC. He said that the effect it has had on the children is amazing - they've taken to them like ducks to water, and they're hugely proud of them because for most of them it's the most precious thing they own. However, getting Internet access out into rural Nigeria is astronomically expensive (at the minute, over $10,000 per month for a 56 kilobit satellite connection) and he thinks this will be a major stumbling block.

    He was also taken to a school which has been kitted out by Intel as a showcase for the Classmate. He said it was stunning - Intel had pumped a fortune into it and the facilities were better than most schools in the UK. Teachers had interactive whiteboards, there was WiMAX everywhere and a superfast connection to the outside world, etc. etc. He was bowled over. And so were the politicians that Intel showed it to, with the result that 1,000 schools are signed up to take delivery of Classmates.

    So yet again, we have an organisation trying to do The Right Thing being trampled by big corporations with deep pockets, who see places like Nigeria as nothing but "emerging markets" to be brought under their yoke as quickly as possible, and who aren't prepared to let upstarts like OLPC take their market away before it's established.

    I really hope they keep Windows off this thing.
  • Re:Yes (Score:4, Informative)

    by swebster ( 530246 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:50PM (#21605015) Homepage
    You need to have a windows license to use that. The IE eula requires it. See here: []
  • Re:OLPC is tanking (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 06, 2007 @07:22PM (#21605429)

    "Copyright law is a great evil in society"?
    And it is. It's not zealotry to say so, it's perfectly reasonable. []

  • Re:OLPC is tanking (Score:4, Informative)

    by Andrew Aguecheek ( 767620 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @07:25PM (#21605475)

    A $100 laptop will last a lot longer than $100 of food will. Plus, they'll help with the kids education, which might just help them escape the poverty cycle they're in. Teach a man to fish, and all that.

    As for the electricity point, that's probably why solar and mechanical generators are being developed.

  • XP Embedded (Score:3, Informative)

    by EmbeddedJanitor ( 597831 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @07:48PM (#21605801)
    XP Embedded is x86 only.

    WinCE runs on various architectures, but it is a toy OS. Still, CE would be capable of serving educational goals.

    Many of the experimental NT kernels (PowerPC, MIPS, etc) sowed some of the seeds for WinCE.

    XP Embedded does not provide the full MS experience. To get people addicted to MS KoolAid needs more than that.

  • Re:nice (Score:3, Informative)

    by Darby ( 84953 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @06:00AM (#21610197)
    Interesting sentence construction of yours. It parses like "To square one, [it] looks like their [Microsoft's] back".

    Right. It means that they fell behind the beginning, lost ground from the start, got lapped by inertia, you know.

    Yes, I'm being extremely rude because I KNOW parent is a native speaker. Non-native speakers do not make such silly mistakes. Oh, btw, English is my second language...

    So having learned English as a second language, you know how idiomatic it is.
    It's OK, you'll get it eventually. We can't all park our cars on the same yard!


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