back to article OLPC sweet talks Microsoft

The One Laptop Per Child Foundation (OLPC) is adapting its Sugar software package to make it compatible with Microsoft’s operating system. The group’s founder Nicholas Negroponte said in an email yesterday that it was agreed after months of discussions with the software giant that the XO Laptop, which currently only runs on a …


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  1. mike


    Hhhhmmm that should bring the price down - lmao

  2. SpitefulGOD
    Gates Halo

    Our Survey says

    After asking a couple of kids who use the Laptops what their thoughts were, the reply... "I maybe poor, but I ain't that poor, what's this Tesco Value OS?"

  3. Solomon Grundy


    I know the open saucers are going to be upset when I say it, but very few people want anything other than Windows and selling a PC to the masses without it is largely a waste of time.

    Sure open source OS's might be fantastic but between their terrible marketing and as Negroponte says, their extreme fundamentalism, the open source community and their products aren't ready for the big time of consumerism.

  4. Warren
    Paris Hilton

    Here we go again

    To start with it's all cheap, open, innovative and so on. Then the bigguns (usually Microsoft) notice that it's getting popular and think "We'd better get in on this." Finally, their version gets the marketing budget and before long everyone's using it.

    You're left with something that's good but not quite as good as it would have been.

    Paris, because she's as good as ever.

  5. Neil Paterson

    Oh Hell - P*ss Eee

    Anyone have Negroponte's personal email so I can let him know how I feel about this?

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Schools need Windows(tm), like

    Schools need Windows(tm) like a fish needs a bicycle.

    The difference between Firefox on Linux and Firefox on Windows is ... ?

    The difference between OpenOffice on Linux and OpenOffice on Windows is ... ?


    On the other hand, the Microsoft-centric ecosystem needs an ongoing monopoly like a drug dealer needs an ongoing supply of addicts.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    @Solomon Grundy

    "...very few people want anything other than Windows and selling a PC to the masses without it is largely a waste of time."

    You tried buying an Asus Eee PC recently? Sure, you will shortly be able to get it loaded with WinXP (not Vista?? Nelson Muntz - "HA! HA!"), but they are like hen's teeth now, flying off the shelves as soon as they are back in stock, loaded with Xandros Desktop - i.e. Linux.

    By comparison, and taking into account Microsoft's panic to try to spark up interest in Windows 7 (comin' real soon now, folks...), selling a PC to the masses *with* Windows - in the guise of Vista - seems to be an even bigger waste of time... :-)

  8. Chewy

    what version of windows?

    Can't see it being Vista somehow, so I'm guessing it will be XP. So thousands more unpatched XP boxes being used to send me spam from China.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Tesco Value Commentary

    @SpitefulGOD: A lot of comments from random kids, mostly in the developed world if you look at various reviews, seem to be about not having access to the latest games, Flash, and so on, but that perspective is completely at odds with the point of the project: it's about providing tools for learning, not leisure (or time-wasting). And to preempt any retorts about "not wanting the best" for the developing world, I think critics of the OLPC should actually take a look at what the project is trying to provide, whilst bearing in mind the continual grumbling from various directions about how today's schoolchildren (in Britain and elsewhere in the developed world) have missed out on what their predecessors experienced in the microcomputer era, now knowing only Word, Excel and Outlook, trained up for a Wernham Hogg-like existence forwarding e-mail viruses to each other.

    @Solomon Grundy: It may well be the case that the government buyers want Windows, but that's arguably down to the "no-one got fired for buying the market leader" attitude. I'd dispute that it's a waste of time selling anything else - clearly, Asus, HP and others don't see it that way. And talk of "fundamentalism" is just dirt-slinging with a blindfold on: there are numerous benefits in deploying open and interoperable technology, especially in places where people aren't burdened by the legacy thinking shown in various comments so far. Even if you wanted to replicate some kind of casual developed world user experience, you could easily do so with open source software.

  10. Mark


    Do you expect children to refuse pens because they are coated in a poo-brown colour paint? Refuse to enter a school because of the lime green walls? Why then are you expecting when children are given a computer to learn on and do their homework on, they should refuse because it isn't Windows (The One True OS)?

  11. cam

    OLPC Google Summer of Code 2008

    And what if some bright sparks spent their Summer writting a Cloud Based Version of Suger using Google Summer Of Code, Google App Engine and Google Gears, then you could browse using Firfox and all of these nasties about what OS go away; stop arguing and start creating

    Google Summer of Code 2008

    Google App Engine

  12. Gerry


    I'm with Warren on this one.

    Solomon Grundy is not entirely wrong with his view, just a shame it is expressed so extremely.

    Money buys smooth. Smooth seduces first world consumers that, as a result of being able to throw money at problems, seem to have lost the ability to discriminate between sizes of issue.

    Free Software, for better or for worse, is a fight against the enclosure of the commons, this time, the information commons.

    The warnings are all there: Microsoft and Zune and..., Apple and iTunes..., DRM and all of them, and luckily none of this stuff is life threatening, but over time all this will encroach on things that really matter.

    Free Software does not attempt to create a rent seeking monopoly and so has no money for "marketing". However, and integral to the underpinning philosophy, everyone gets "voice" and that includes those that are less articulate or with poor influencing skills, and perhaps end up shouting in frustration.

    It's easy, especially if you are living off the eco-system created by rent seeking monopolies, to dismiss these these people. However they are trying to be free and to give others freedom.

    Those living off the rent seeking eco-systems are at best parasites, reliant on the host, doesn't make them evil, doesn't make them rubbish, but does make them absolutely dependent on the good will of the host.

    Good luck to them, it's a shame that Negroponte is going the same way, I'll stick with Freedom and cope with who is inside the tent, thanks.

    But everyone is welcome to join in and make the tent a more attractive place.

    Penguin, because you haven't got an RMS.

  13. Solomon Grundy


    I should clarify my original "Sugar" comment.

    "...selling anything else (Windows) is largely a waste of time". Would have been better if I had said "selling anything without Windows to the mass market will not, at this time, result in the sales volumes necessary to maintain a large scale sales and marketing program to an extremely large customer base".

  14. Anonymous Coward

    downhill anyway...

    OLPC has been going downhill anyway - hardware issues showing the lack of real world manufacturing experience, a user interface that attempts to reinvent too much with an inconsistent feel and the recent people leaving.

    My bet is that they are trying for money from MS before the whole thing goes titsup, MS - consistently about 2 years behind the market - is easy to sell to if they think something is popular (regardless of project financials).

    IMHO MS is more than welcome to take the blame...

    Put mesh networking and a better (biodegradable) battery in the linux based Eee PC, beef up the case - and you almost have a package ready to go....

  15. Nigel Kneale

    Must admit...

    ...with bespoke hardware *and* software, attempting to redefine how a computer is supposed to be, I can't help thinking about the QL and the SAM Coupe.

    Both were meant to be revolutionary, both used specialist hardware, and both died on their arses because little companies with small budgets run by inexperienced directors attempting to do big new things mean that so many corners have to be cut that the end result loses its appeal.

    A bigger company with more talented staff could have pulled this off.

    And other companies will do so.

  16. muvaffak gozaydin

    I hope Bill GATES will give free

    I am so glad that Negroponte is about to reach agreement with Bill.

    I hate windows and its monopoly. But God it is so famous and still good and we, human beings, are so weak that we all go after windows rather than Linux.

    In case of OLPC windows should be there. Parents will buy the laptop; not the children. So parents will ask for windows.

    My only hope for the sake of all children of the world, let Bill give windows free to Negroponte's OLPC. It will be given to 3 billion children of the world.

    Don't worry Bill. you will make more money when all children learn windows. from Turkey

  17. muvaffak gozaydin

    I hope " not downhill "

    To the anonymous crowd

    It seems you are very happy because OLPC is not very good in these days.

    " Trying for money from MS... " Such a comment shows why you are anonymous.

    Why in the world, there are bad people in the world,

    " having great joy from failures of others "

    I hope OLPC will be better soon.

  18. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects
    Paris Hilton

    You can't educate people you can't reach.

    The last thing a poor start-up wants is competition.

    And I very much doubt that the XO will have a lock-in format. Maybe a cut down XP after all it doesn't need backward compatibility.

    It might actually turn out to be a winner if Microsoft release an XP version that is whip-cracking fast. Might even get it myself.

    What is interesting is how quickly Mr Negroponte was excoriated on Groklaw.

    Yesterday morning he was still Saint Nicholas.

    By the evening he had been excommunicated and was on his way to Tyburn for a ritual disembowelling after a quick bit of hanging.

  19. A J Stiles
    Gates Horns

    Taking a wrong turn

    This is completely the wrong direction.

    There's an old saying: If you give someone a fish, they will eat for a day. If you teach someone to fish, they will eat for the rest of their life.

    However, you should be especially wary of anyone quoting that whose entire business model is based around selling expensive, proprietary bait and tackle and using dirty tricks to put their competitors out of business.

  20. Geoff Mackenzie

    @muvaffak gozaydin

    We don't all choose Windows. Fewer and fewer of us do.

    And I can honestly say, having worked in a couple of computer shops (in a sales/tech role) before getting a 'real' IT job, that virtually no customer actually asks for Windows. They just get it (and pay for it) by default.

    Although fortunately where I worked we had no cosy special relationship with Microsoft so on the rare occasions when someone asked for Linux, we were happy to install it, support it, and give them a discount.

  21. James Butler
    Gates Horns

    Something stinks

    Not sure that it's a "user request" issue, rather more like a "overseer" issue.

    Since RHL doesn't provide any "phone home" services in its default installation, the US Gov't was chaffing at the thought of providing low-cost systems to low-income people with no "anti-terrorism" mechanisms.

    Since OLPC is a bunch of administrators (sorry, Nick), and I don't mean system admins, they don't have the ability to put such a mechanism in the PCs.

    By installing Windows (I guess they've figured out how to unbundle Media Player?), the brass gets their spyhole pre-installed and quite robust without needing to develop anything or modify the base installation.

    Microsoft extends their market into areas that previously had no business spending the required amount of money to join in, and the US Gov't gets their Windows on the World(TM) without needing to do any heavy lifting.

    Oh ... and I agree with cam re: developing a Sugar-free alternative.

  22. SpitefulGOD
    Gates Halo

    @muvaffak gozaydin

    It won't be free but it will probably be as close as $5-$20 I would think and probably come with student office, as for the other comments about me.. I was only kidding, although I am a firm believer of start as you mean to go on and I hate these little blighters to be given even more disadvantages.

  23. Charles Manning

    Sygar is OS agnostic

    Putting Sugar on a box is somewhat like putting a browser on it: once the Sugar's on top you don't see the OS anymore.

    For those fanbois that feel burnt by this: OLPC has never been a Linux project. It has always been a Sugar + OS project. Negreponte has always considered both Linux and Windows as alternative. That's stupid because it forces some dumb decisions like x86.

    It they'd made this machine ARM based it would have been cheaper and lower wattage. Linux runs perfectly well on ARM (there are more ARM Linux systems out there than x86 Linux systems). But then they'd have had to drop the Windows option.

  24. Mark

    @I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

    So? When someone does good, you should applaud them. When someone does bad, you should vilify them.

    If you only ever reward good and ignore bad, you're producing a reality distortion field (a' la Apple).

    If you only ever vilify bad and ignore good, you're a zealot (per common internet meaning, e.g. ABMer).

    So, NN produces a cheap rugged and maintainable machine for teaching third world children. He's a saint.

    NN puts a bloated OS that won't enable the children to learn on the laptop. He's a twat.

    He did good, we say good. He did bad, we say bad. You seem to think that we should only ever laud or vilify. Why?

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