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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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  • That is so Microsoft (Score:5, Interesting)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <`dadinportland' `at' `yahoo.com'> on Thursday December 06, 2007 @05:09PM (#21603279) Homepage Journal
    Redesign the machine to fit our OS.


  • by the_skywise ( 189793 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @05:13PM (#21603357)
    You want a low cost computer to give to the children of the world that runs XP? You're sitting on billions of capital. Your ex-CEO runs a worldwide charity. You have manufacturing experience with the XBox360. You have industry alliances with all the major chip manufacturers.

    Why don't you BUILD one? I'm sure you could make it "better" and you'd have a whole new customer base. You could even lock out competitors.

    Or better yet, why dontcha give away copies of Windows CE? That runs under a gig... doesn't it?
  • What's the point? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by QuickFox ( 311231 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @05:14PM (#21603385)
    Microsoft's only argument seems to be that there's lots of educational software written for Windows that becomes available this way. But if the OLPC becomes very widespread, surely those programs will be adapted for the OLPC. If the OLPC doesn't have Windows, the software will be adapted to the Windows-less OLPC.
  • by Skreems ( 598317 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @05:17PM (#21603435) Homepage
    From what I've read, Negroponte would in no way be interested in Windows, even if it were donated for free. Every part of the XO is designed to aid collaboration, and understanding of what's going on under the hood. There's a hard-wired button next to the volume that pops up the source code for the current application, for chrissake. The idea is that the kids can use the computer, AND jump in and make changes, and learn in the process. It's not just a cheap laptop, it's a new computing environment. A lot of the value is in the custom software. Installing Windows would be as damaging to that effort as installing a straight Ubuntu distribution.
  • by sm62704 ( 957197 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @05:21PM (#21603505) Journal
    So true. A friend of mine had never used a computer before and bought an eMachines with XP loaded. Well, his nephew and nephew's wife browsed a bunch of porn sites and got it so riddled with viruses and spyware it was unuseable, so I reinstalled from the GHOST CD and put in a better firewall, Firefox, etc.

    Two weeks later it was hosed again so I reinstalled XP yet again, and installed Mandriva as dual boot. I disabled networking in Windows, problems solved.

    He found Mandriva/KDE easier to use than XP. But then again, he'd never used a computer before and didn't have to unlearn anything.

  • Re:Luckily (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jav1231 ( 539129 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @05:22PM (#21603533)
    "Luckily Mr. Negroponte is an intelligent man who is not interested in profits, but in doing the right thing, and can happily tell them to fuck the hell off. That's what I'd do anyway."

    But will he? He's already struck a very odd deal with Intel. Unfortunately for Negroponte, he was thrown into the fray with MS and Intel when they decided to compete with OLPC. Both assume they're big enough to look that bad and they're right. Now Intel has joined OLPC and what becomes of AMD? How pissed must they be?

    Many within the OLPC ranks may stomach a move to Intel but a wholesale move to MS would cause a mass exodus. I see a disturbing possibility: OLPC moving to Windows and Intel and the vacuum of fleeing engineers being replaced with MS techs. There's a reason Gates and Co. are compared to the Borg, Folks!

  • by sucker_muts ( 776572 ) <sucker_pvnNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Thursday December 06, 2007 @05:38PM (#21603823) Homepage Journal
    It seems MS is trying hard to get XP to work on the OLPC, but since the SD connection is not a standard one, they need to make the drivers to all the hardware themselves AND they so definitely can not touch any olpc GPL code they need to be very careful! Things are not going as smooth as MS would like it to be.

    Some interesting stories:
    concerns for this all [olpcnews.com]
    general info about the things MS is doing [wired.com]

  • come on... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by someone1234 ( 830754 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @05:38PM (#21603827)
    Who wouldn't want a WinXP version with source code attached?
    If i was Negroponte, i wouldn't say a flat 'NO'. I would ask for the source code :)
  • by starglider29a ( 719559 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @05:42PM (#21603885)
    SIGN ME UP! This would KILL Vista forever!!!

    If I could get a $100 laptop that ran a stripped down XP? I'd wallpaper my house with them! OLPR (One Laptop per Room and two in the LOO!) And then, when Vista 2012 comes out, and they want me to upgrade for some super new feature (like being able to print a date (human-type)... I WILL TELL THEM TO KISS MY SHINY METAL XO! Because anything that I need really DOES run on XP, and whatever they are trying to peddle will have the built-in hardware upgrade cost.

    A Grid Networking cheap laptop that runs what I've been running at work for 6 years? That would spread through universities and many businesses like Ice-9. Whole universities and neighborhoods would become one single grid. Comcast would have one cable modem per 10 square miles. The market would freeze over to XOs and MS would have to shove Office 2012 down the throats of those using Office XP, as content as a MS user can be. WHY WHY WHY would we upgrade to Vista 2012? SIgn me up!!! And let's start freezing MS with their own OS!!!

    And so it goes...
  • by CaptainPatent ( 1087643 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @05:50PM (#21604031) Journal

    yes, they probably would give it out for free if necessary. The first hit comes for free. :)
    I don't even necessarily think it will be free (unless we're talking on a trial basis).

    I think Microsoft is more concerned about OLPC machines being able to run Windows XP versus actually giving XP away. I don't doubt that they may give away demos of XP or something similar, but more than likely Microsoft sees a huge market sector they are guaranteed (at this point) to miss out on.

    Microsoft is trying to push into a market segment I think they will continue to have little control - and that is dumbed-down ultra portable (and under-powered) machines. For years Microsoft has taken a one-size-fits-all stance to operating systems when the reality is, some people have much slower machines that can't handle their OS, or the user is a power user who needs to have much more control over the system, or the user is setting up a massively parallel server... etc. In this particular case Microsoft is trying to wedge XP into a tiny amount of processing space designed for something completely different.

    Now it is true that Microsoft probably will not gain a ton of ground on OLPC, but let's postulate Microsoft does get OLPC to place an expansion slot in their machines and run the numbers:

    Microsoft XP can now run (not well, but it can) on the OLPC, so Microsoft hands out demo copies.
    XP on OLPC runs very slow by our standards, but some will decide it has an easier to use interface, so when the demo expires, let's say a mere 1% of people using OLPC invest in a copy of Windows.
    Because the price of windows varies by country (and it is generally much less in developing countries), let's say the average price paid for a copy is $30.
    Let's then say OLPC meets it's goal of selling 2 million laptops:
    2,000,000 * .01 * 30 = $600,000!
    While that's not a ton of money for Microsoft, you need to keep in mind that all they have to do is successfully argue the OLPC should have an expansion slot in order to gain that money.

    I can understand exactly why Microsoft wants OLPC to change the design slightly and of course they'll bitch about it if bitching will earn them better than half a mil.

  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:09PM (#21604361) Journal
    OLPC can not, but MS could. Since MS had no desire to be on this from the ground floor, perhaps, they could pay for ALL of the systems to have improved set-up. In fact, they could perhaps pay the extra 50 dollars/system to get it down to a 100, in exchange for OLPC meeting MS's conditions. When you think about it, MS spends FAR more money on trying to kill off linux/google, so this would be chump change, and could help a number of children.
  • by Bert64 ( 520050 ) <bert@slashdot.fi ... NBSDom minus bsd> on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:18PM (#21604499) Homepage
    Microsoft want them to do a costly redesign, which will increase unit cost just to accomodate their software which is obviously more bloated than the software the OLPC already runs.
    What's worse is they're trying to port an old version of their software to it, while telling everyone else that version is obsolete and shouldn't be used.

    OLPC aims to help kids in the third world, by providing them a cheap rugged computer they can learn about and build up a community around.
    Microsoft just want to get them locked in now, so that when they need support or are looking to buy more machines in the future they have no choice but to pay top dollar to microsoft, or risk losing access to their accumulated data.

    The idea behind using open source is that those kids who are naturally technically minded will learn how to support and develop for the system, and create their own local skillbase they can use to support the less technically minded kids around them.
  • ZeroConf (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:23PM (#21604555)

    It amazes me how arrogant MS is in this matter. These are laptops designed to be perfect for kids and to educate them and facilitate their access to communications. How does MS think Windows compares? These laptops all mesh seamlessly with one another, using zeroconf to auto-discover other OLPCs and share pictures and music, chat, collaborate on compositions, writings, programs, drawings, and educational games, and share network access. MS hasn't even managed to implement zeroconf in Vista, despite it being a well established standard in use on every other OS, by printers and hardware, and even implemented by specific applications running in Windows (Adobe CS3, Trillian, iTunes). There is even a free reference implementation for .Net, but they haven't bothered to incorporate it. Hey geniuses, why don't you catch up in your core market for a change, instead of trying to destroy competition and innovation in a different one, especially one as important as educating kids.

  • by Thaelon ( 250687 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:31PM (#21604693)
    Did anyone else catch the fact that they did not even attempt to squeeze Vista in there?

    Another black mark for Vista.

    So long Microsoft, and thanks for all the BSODs.
  • Re:What's the point? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by thirdrock68 ( 538466 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:38PM (#21604841)
    According to this article [childtrendsdatabank.org] there are presently 73.7 million children (under 18) in the United States.

    If the OLPC achieves it's goal of one-laptop-per-child, then I am sure there will be no shortage of software houses prepared to develop software for this market, or even port their existing titles to the XO. There is a New Zealand company that makes educational software (windows) that sells in shops for $10 retail. At current markups, that means that the software developer is getting between 1-2 dollars per sale. Now imagine porting that same software to the XO, and selling it direct online for $2 per copy. If only 1% of the XO base buys a title, that's 1.4 million per title. At 10% it is 14M.

    This is what Microsoft are looking at, a profitable platform that is running Linux, and that will be used by the next generation of computer purchasers. No wonder they are crapping their pants.
  • by The Angry Mick ( 632931 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:56PM (#21605073) Homepage

    if Microsoft really understood this niche, it wouldn't exist for OLPC to fill!

    That's pretty much the heart of the matter, right there. Microsoft doesn't get the point of the project. They perceive it a platform for possible brand expansion and user lock-in, and care little about the humanistic goals. Its not about what the OLPC can do for the users, but what it can do for Microsoft.

    This is really disturbing.

  • Re:come on... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Myopic ( 18616 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @07:08PM (#21605237)
    In my experience the quality of a piece of source code can be accurately estimated by the quality of the compiled program. I've never seen great, stable, robust, usable software that had crappy hacked code, and I've never seen a shitty, buggy, useless program that had beautiful, clean, well-designed code.

    Without knowing in any way for certain, my guess is that the Windows source code is a horrible mess, and thus is not worth OLPC's consideration.
  • by oakbox ( 414095 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @07:24PM (#21605449) Homepage
    It's not about revenue, at least direct revenue.
    Microsoft has absolutely no intention of ever actually putting it's software on the OLPC.
    The strategy here is to delay or stop OLPC adoption cold. IF there are rumors that an MS version of the OLPC is 'just around the corner' compatible with those 'thousands of educational programs' then a lot of buyers will wait for the new version to come out.
    This is what killed the Osborne [wikipedia.org] lo these many years ago. The sales people kept talking about the next bigger better faster version which meant that no one wanted to buy the version that was on the market NOW.

    I laughed out loud when I read the title to this article, and kept chuckling when I actually read the article. This is all about MS just trying to through a monkey wrench in the OLPC machinery, and NOTHING to do with a serious effort on their part to bring their fantastic product to developing world.
  • Re:OLPC is tanking (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Retric ( 704075 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @07:37PM (#21605633)
    Yes you are. Giving food destroys the local economy. Giving medicine helps in the short term but what about the future? It takes real world skills to move from a 3rd world to a 2nd world economy.

    Anyway, OLPC works best in areas with a little infrastructure and working poor. It's a tool that could open much of the world to the world economy vs. aid without end. The 3rd world is not going to grow up in the same way we did. They are happy to skip land lines and go strait to cell phones and they are happy to skip over DOS. All they need is something to trade and like India and China the economy will start go grow rapidly.
  • Re:OLPC is tanking (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dave562 ( 969951 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @09:05PM (#21606641) Journal
    A kid spending his day farming isn't going to say, "man, I could really go for a /. break right now."

    Really? I suppose he wouldn't be too interested in the Natalie Portman jokes or iPhone banter, but neither most poor people nor most slashdotters are so insular and parochial. The OLPC and the Internet facilitate people talking to people, and is thus an absolute good.

    More likely the kid is going to do a Google search on improved irrigation techniques. Or learn something about what crops might be better adapted to the soil. Maybe he will join a forum where he can talk to farmers in the first world about farming techniques. Maybe he can go ahead and find a dealer who will give him more for his crops than he is currently getting. I never ceased to be amazed what real, non-geek people find on the Internet. They find things that actually pertain to what they deal with in real life. I on the other hand have been "online" since 2400 baud, so oddly enough all I find are warez, pr0n and security utilities.

  • Re:OLPC is tanking (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 06, 2007 @09:07PM (#21606661)

    it's also good logical sense and enshrined in legal codes around the globe.
    So was slavery once - "black people are, after all, obviously inferior intellectually, though they are strong - it's only logical they should be servants toiling in the fields for us.". See how starting from a faulty premise can lead logically to an invalid conclusion?

    By obliterating copyright, you remove their rights.
    No you don't - the author can simply not release if they don't want something REdistributed. Copyright is about restriction of redistribution. Only the physical exists - the author still has his work. If he chooses not to share, that's his choice. Why reward him artificially, giving him market advantage over those who would share freely?

    Neither of those equates with evil.
    It is evil in that it denies people freedom of speech. No argument - it just does. It is IMPOSSIBLE to enforce copyright without monitoring all communication. And it is impossible to have freedom of speech if all communication is monitored. Copyright, or at least enforcement of copyright, is evil. You just don't like facing the fact that YOU are evil because you support copyright.

    Atlantis rising? My ass. Reich rising, more like.

  • Re:arrogance (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Fordiman ( 689627 ) <fordiman&gmail,com> on Thursday December 06, 2007 @09:54PM (#21607161) Homepage Journal
    I don't know. I'm sure MS is aware of the hack of their OS called 'TinyXP' (which would run quite comfortably in a 1G machine, and perky-fast, too). I'm sure it's a piece of piss for them to pore over the convert documentation and ensure that things needed for compatibility and their marketing strategy are included and keep it under that 512M mark. I'm sure they could quite successfully market it as Windows(tm) Lite(r) for $50 a pop without infringing on their Vista business (since they would necessarily run on two wholly different classes of systems).

    I'm also sure that Microsoft doesn't give a flying fuck.
  • Re:OLPC is tanking (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BeanThere ( 28381 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @01:30PM (#21614447)
    Not very insightful. Firstly it isn't really just trying to replace books - if it was then the project would be "laughably absurd", but it's not. That $200 device does far more than a book ever could. Secondly, fast-forward five to fifteen years as economies of scale and ever-cheapening electronics allow the device to be sold at, say, $20. Third, even if the damn thing is destroyed, with books in electronic format, just buy a new one and transfer thousands of books back to the new one in mere seconds at virtually no cost --- destroying the device doesn't necessarily 'destroy the content', as you imply, and as is the case with books. Finally, I live in a third-world country, and it was access to computers at a very young age that sparked my interest in learning to program, which now allows me to earn a good income and create and export software products to the entire world, bringing forex into the country and creating jobs, so why don't you STFU and let poor people decide for themselves that they "need" - it's not your money, so how is OLPC harmful?

"Atomic batteries to power, turbines to speed." -- Robin, The Boy Wonder