back to article OLPC and Microsoft punt Windows-only XO laptop

Microsoft and the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) foundation have confirmed that the XO laptop will soon be available as Windows-loaded machines. They will be sold in five or six countries (Microsoft hasn’t said which ones) starting in June, with a broader release penciled in for August or September this year. The announcement …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    "Microsoft, has stressed that running Red Hat’s Linux distribution on the machines seriously limited their credibility among governments and companies reluctant to invest in a non-Windows system."

    i.e. the Red Hat's brown envelopes ain't fat enough.

    On a brighter note, haven't Peru just order 250k of these things?

    Paris, because she uses Sugar ported to Windoz XP

  2. Patrick O'Reilly
    Gates Horns


    All I can say is that I am very disappointed.

    Turns out everyone does have a price.

    I hope the backlash destroys project now for turning it's back on the community that nurchered it.

  3. Anonymous Coward


    These are the same people who turned down the offer of free Mac OS X for the machines on the grounds it wasn't open source, yeah?

  4. Dunhill
    Thumb Down

    they really need to go back to school

    So now we have a "cheap" laptop for the "poorest" countries and people

    Most of these people can't read and/or write correctly, have NO MONEY almost to eat and than we give them laptops with the most expensive operatingsystem in service/software/ownership ??

    How the F%^K does that fit ...

    Someone is filling his pockets with M$$$$$ or they are plain stupid and need to go back to school

    BTW, they also never really investigated in those poor areas with no infrastructure, electricity, telephone and other "normal" services, where the people are really hungry, how fast that laptop is changed for food ...


  5. Nigel Kneale

    Reality bites

    A bit of due-diligence at the start of the project would have revealed that most govts out there won't make significant cash outlays on non-MS IT systems - not unless you've got a *really* good salesman who can understand and calm their fears. Mere FLOSS advocacy isn't enough.

  6. variant
    Gates Horns

    wont take macos cus the kiddies wont be able to tinker

    Steve Jobs, Apple Computer Inc.'s chief executive, offered to provide free copies of the company's operating system, OS X, for the machine, according to Seymour Papert, a professor emeritus at MIT who is one of the initiative's founders. "We declined because it's not open source," says Dr. Papert, noting the designers want an operating system that can be tinkered with. An Apple spokesman declined to comment.


    a lot of other funny backtracking going on since that article was printed!

    negroponte is a fking sellout.

  7. Marc Lawrence

    EEE by eck

    I just wish the 'mesh' and 'b/w to color' screen options could be made available to other laptop manufacturers (asus eeepc take note)... How many people travelling and working on train really need true colour resolution when compared to long battery life...

    Its going to Microsoft? Well there is a huge surprise. Dirty tricks work in all directions. The Asus one with 12GB (windows) or 20GB (linux) is a good example in the other direction. Just wait to see what happens on the 901 (eee + Atom)...

    And at least more people will know about Microsoft.... and then google and other freeware. Just wonder if this is the other reason behind the recent XP long life agreement...

  8. Brett


    I formally object to this headline: gives an informal definition: From Google's cache:

    to cease doing something; give up: "Let's punt on this and do something else"

    From the live page:

    to equivocate or delay: "If they ask you for exact sales figures, you'll have to punt"

    Is there a dictionary that supports this usage?

    -Word nazi

  9. James Pickett
    Gates Horns


    I'd be interested to know how you activate the effing thing where there's no phone or internet. And may we know the price difference between the two versions? Presumably the MS one will require loads more memory, as well as the Windows tax...

  10. Philip Cheeseman

    Bye bye XO laptop - We barely knew you

    With the EEEPC (and lots of similar machines) doing so well (And selling with Linux) and the main selling point of the XO gone. Its days are seriously numbered.

  11. Vince

    Waa Waa why windows waa

    "Most of these people can't read and/or write correctly, have NO MONEY almost to eat and than we give them laptops with the most expensive operatingsystem in service/software/ownership ??"

    Yes, the one that is almost the most widely used desktop setup, has the widest range of applications available for it to make it more useful (just because windows isn't "free" or "open source" doesn't mean there aren't tonnes of programmes that run on top of it quite happily). Gosh what a silly decision. Not.

    Or you could give them some custom *nix variant, with less accessible support, less broad support, less choice of industry standard tools for the future that may just come in useful if this project works.

    Damn, how stupid. You could run either option, but my money is on the Windows version being most popular. Just like on the eee-PC - just check how many of them are actually running Windows now. There is a good reason whatever you'd like to think.

  12. Herby

    OLPC must have gotten new funding...

    From the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. Yeah, that's the ticket. New infusion of cash to change someones mind.

    Me? Cynical? Couldn't be!

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Now, lemme get this straight...

    "Negroponte, who has been keen to justify the group’s new tie-in with Microsoft, has stressed that running Red Hat’s Linux distribution on the machines seriously limited their credibility among governments and companies reluctant to invest in a non-Windows system."

    So, lemme get this straight...there are governments out there that **insist** on computers in their country having Win-duhs?!?

    As they say around here..."Who you crappin'"?!?

  14. Nick Woodson
    Gates Horns

    .....And again from an American.......

    This is a blog from over here . We definitely have similiar views on this debacle. I just feel bad for anyone who actually thought that there might be a little integrity in the world.

  15. Rafael


    The lack of infrastructure, electricity, telephone, etc. is a problem, but the worst is that people are blindingly embracing the idea without considering an education plan behind it -- where is the (adequate, localized) content? Where is the training for the teachers who will use, indirectly, the laptop? Do they really believe that all they need to do is give the laptop to the kids and voilá, problem solved?

    Just read for some thoughts on what OLPC's (lack of) educational goals. The money spent on those toys could be better used to solve other educational problems.

    BTW, El Reg, why can't we comment on Andrew Orlowski' stories?

  16. spegru
    Gates Horns

    No-one should be surprised

    With their vista problems and the obvious threat from linux, mist were always going to try to defend themselves and XP (and probably MSworks too) at very allow/givaway prices is an obvious choice how to do that.

    So the question is will it be enough? On the one hand further XP sales will undermine Vista sales. On the other hand even XP is to clunky for small 'cheap computers' - plus it cant be customised to make it sexy in the Apple air kind of way that the hardware makers would like

    On the one hand Msft can use XP to fend off linux (but not well enough) and on the other it could be the author of vista's downfall

    problem. but I predict it's going to continue through 2008/9


  17. Christian Berger

    Where's the point

    Essentially they are porting the GUI to Windows. So the normal user will see no difference. It's more or less just the kernel that's beeing changed.

    It's something purely symbolic. It just creates a lot of work and makes a less secure system. (the OLPC uses virtualisation to keep the applications appart)

    It's just stupid. It would have made more sense to use DOS as that might save a bit of resources.

  18. Robert Moore
    Gates Horns

    Free OS

    I expect that MicroSoft is giving OLPC freen copies of XP. Probably the cheep limited multitasking version they came up with for places with high piracy rates.

    Not only do they get a corp tax writeoff, but you can also think of it like a drug dealer giving out free samples.

  19. Damien Jorgensen
    Gates Halo

    great news

    sounds like the OLPC has seen sense and installed and OS which can be used and wasnt created by monkeys

  20. Telic
    Gates Horns

    Never Never Land

    How can Windows be widely useful without Internet or computer stores for the (proprietary) application programs? With Linux, productivity software can be provided as freely as the OS.

    How can dirt-poor communities advance or leverage their children's early "Windows education" unless they subsequently purchase overpriced Microsoft products for their homes and senior schools and small businesses?

    Microsoft dumps its products into underdeveloped markets -- like a drug ring handing out cheap samples -- knowing it'll eventually cash in (full price) on all the "hooked" customers.


  21. MD Rackham

    Punt: Word Usage Lesson

    @Brett, Word Nazi: Look up "punter" and you'll see where this usage of "punt" is derived from:

    Informal chiefly Brit., A person who gambles, places a bet, or makes a risky investment.

    I would have to say that choosing Windows satisfies all parts of that definition: it's a gamble, a bet, and a risky investment.

  22. Don Mitchell

    Freedom of choice is not just a Western luxury

    People in developing nations deserve to have the same choices we do, not be herded into making an ideological decision that will isolate them from almost all western computer users (of Mac or Windows). The XO's are not bibles handed out by evangelists, which is how a lot of patronizing open source zeolots seem to view this situation.

  23. Kanhef
    Gates Horns


    How much is this going to increase the price of the XO? I can't believe Microsoft would give them free copies forever. Also, no one seems to be considering the TCO. You'll need a technologically-skilled person to fix them when someone messes up the system (not if – Murphy's Law). If you hook them up to the internet (via satellite phone, e.g.), you'll need to manage security updates, anti-virus/-malware software, etc. Once a community gets screwed over because they can't support that, the market is going to dry up real quick.

  24. Jach

    Too bad

    I've had high hopes for the project from its beginnings, and only had doubts when there were rumors about moving to Microsoft. But now it's confirmed, and all I can say now is that I hope the company dies a swift death and Asus' lappy takes its place to be given to the poor kids.

    Guido van Rossum's comment in the other article is interesting, though. The whole thing does sound like "We're better than you because we have technology, let us civilize you."

  25. Telic
    Thumb Down

    Disgrace to Humanity

    "People in developing nations deserve to have the same choices we do, not be herded into making an ideological decision that will isolate them from almost all western computer users (of Mac or Windows)."

    What isolation? Fewer video games?? The Linux GUI has the same windowing paradigm as the Microsoft and Apple OS, and the system interoperates with industry standards. Mac OS X was derived from FreeBSD, which means it's as much of a *nix creature as Linux.

    As far as what currently dominates western computers, that was achieved through racketeering tactics by a convicted monopolist which treats its own customers like criminals. Its ideology is as foul as a greedy and soulless cult.

    That the target is young children of the poor is a disgrace to humanity.


  26. Ed Vim

    XO just another MS monopoly victim

    Looking back at all the recent problems OLPC has gone through recently, this is just a very disappointing but not surprising change in direction. Now that the XO will be competing with major manufacturers as just another low-end laptop it will be interesting to see if it's new pseudo-nonprofit status is enough of a distinction to keep it alive for very long. In any case, the OLPC project was an inspiration for the Open Source community, and full of examples of what can be accomplished, what to avoid, and what to do better. But my heart sinks when I think of all the kids around the world who are definitely going to lose out in this 'jump the shark' change.

    As for Nicholas Negroponte, I remember when news of OLPC was just coming out two-three years ago and how surprised I was to learn he was the brother of Team Bush member John Negroponte. I guess they're not so different after all.

  27. Dan


    "Punt" from the OED

    b. Brit. To promote, sell, or distribute (something), esp. in an insistent or pushy manner; to tout around.

  28. John Stag

    @"how fast that laptop is changed for food"

    Not very fast. XOs disable themselves if they stray away from their designated base station for too long. All the innards are surface mount and designed to make the effort of re-chipping one cost more than the thing's worth.

    Even the XO's color is deliberately chosen - if you're an adult with a bright green laptop you'll have some explaining to do.

    PS: A great big forehead-slapping "duh!" to you for thinking they hadn't thought of this ...

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Here's a thought...

    How about sewer treatment plants, running water, modern agriculture, and *then* we worry about giving everyone in the world a laptop. For the love of all that's right and logical, the world was able to get by just fine without computers. The Romans did trig by hand, using chalk on slate. The seemed to be able to get by. There are plenty of people in the USA and UK who still manage just fine without 'lappies,' either because they don't need one, or can't afford one. How about "one clinic per village," or "99% literacy worldwide" before we start trying to equip everyone on the planet with their very own laptops.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    Bait and hook

    Negroponte sold his soul to MS, easy to see.

    Too bad for those who used their time for free for making software, when their leaders betray them for money.

    I wonder how much cash Negroponte got for selling "his" project?

    And for you idiots telling that "MS has so much more sofware _available_", I have a very acute question: Who is going to pay said software?

    How many mp3-players do you need and what's the use of 216 different mp3-players, when you really need just one?

    Further: Who is going to pay Microsoft?

    Like drug dealers: First one is always free, isn't it.

  31. Peter Kastner

    Yeah, but will Windows actually work on the OLPC?

    I have used an OLPC and tested it against Intel's ClassMate PC.

    I will be interested to see just how "Basic" Microsoft has to get to fit Windows into the tiny memory footprint. And I doubt they'll spend the necessary R&D money to fix up various system maintenance screens (e.g., connecting to a network) to fit into one OLPC screen. Believe me, when you have to drag the screen around in a mad hunt for a dialog box (that you know is there and newbie students do not), the fun will go out of the exercise quickly.

    -- Peter

  32. Charles Manning

    @ Here's a thought

    Spot on!

    Most of the Pro-OLPC crowd have never really experienced the third world but have this bizarre idea that putting a laptop in every kids hands and rolling out broadband will make everything sweet.

    A few hundred years ago our forefathers sent them missionaries and bibles.

    As you say, most people in the third world have zero disposable income. If they had any spare cash it would soon be used buying clothing etc.

    Although I'm more or less a geek (kernel programmer etc), I grew up in rural South Africa. Although I had a priviledged white upbringing, I interacted a reasonable amount with Xhosa speakers living in the rural Transkei area where there is no electricity or phone system. For the most part these people don't even have bank accounts or mechanised transport, and a trip to Lusikisiki (Google Earth will find it) is considered a huge deal. These people don't really need or want electricity and could not afford to pay for it or buy any appliances. A laptop does not fit into this equation at all.

    Then there are the urban poor. A laptop might make a bit of sense here, but it is way down the list compared with other basics. Being able to IM an "internet pal" on the other side of the planet is hardly useful.

    Anything like a laptop also needs a sophisticated support structure: people that can fix laptops, figure out networking problems, etc etc.

    Many a misguided aid program has failed because the whole package was not delivered. Some Swedish government program sent a bunch of tractors to rural Africa. Within a year most of these tractors were dead. Why? They did not send support and spares for their Swedish tractors. This was Massey Fergusson land and MF spares were readily available. The Swedish tractors needed spares to be brought in from Sweden. Same deal with OLPC: the laptop is only a small piece of the puzzle.

  33. Anonymous Coward

    Selling out.

    For a company which had a wonderful (if misguide) ideology of getting every kid in the world educated and using technology, it seems to have sold that ideology out pretty quickly.

    The whole point of using FOSS on the beast was to make it easy to support and develop. Seems stupid to me to let MS push Windows into the market these were aimed at.

    But that is typical for the world now. Money and personal gain is more important than helping our fellow human beings.

    I am sure when the U.S. goes south the rest of the world will show just as much compassion and understanding to it.


  34. A J Stiles
    Dead Vulture

    fish analogy

    So, that's it then.

    The old saying "Give a person a fish and they eat for a day. Teach a person to fish and they eat for life."

    has been subverted into

    "Sell a person a fish and you have sold one fish. Teach a person to fish your way and you can sell them expensive, proprietary bait and tackle for life."

    IMHO it was a bad idea to use an 80x86 processor in the first place. They should have based it on a first-generation ARM architecture, which is no longer encumbered by patents. Although this has traditionally been considered space-inefficient (requiring a whole 32 bit word for every instruction!), the low price of RAM and storage (caused by the even more inefficient 80x86 architecture) have negated this objection. And then, with the machine physically incapable of running Windows, Microsoft wouldn't have been able to get their dirty little hands anywhere near it.

  35. Danger Mouse
    Paris Hilton

    Service Packs etc

    Any sort of windows on a 1GB HDD PC is a pipe dream, what with the swap space, user data, as well as the temp files which windows apps love to create. I wonder if M$ will be 'donating' bigger flash drives?, A nice little tax write off.

  36. Andrew Kirkpatrick

    Out of date OS?

    Everyone's made some really good points, but the one thing I wonder is, why are they deciding now to push an OS that's already out of date?

    What happens to all these lappys once support for XP has vanished?

    (so many other problems but everyone's already mentioned them!)

  37. crayon
    Gates Horns

    scorched earth policy

    MS has won a major victory here. Whether or not OLPC goes on to selling any units from now on is moot. They have managed to decapitate OPLC by forcing the top people to resign and destroyed any credibility that Negroponte may have had. And most importantly they have prevented millions of people from getting acquainted with computers using something other than Windows. If the OPLC does still manages to be a success then MS would have indoctrinated a whole new generation who grows up believing the 3 Rs (restart, reboot, reinstall) are the holy tenets of computing.

  38. Cyfaill

    A perception of the plan

    To scorched earth policy, spot on correct.

    That was the goal, Microsoft has no intentions of allowing any notion of decency to divert anyone on planet Earth from escaping their malicious grip on owning all digital data.

    It is all about control.

    Those who are in information technologies who don't see it are incapable of deep thought.

    Those who are in governments who don't see the threat of mono culture to the stability of any ecosystem are either willfully blind due to corrupted thinking or a part of the plan with a serious case of ignorance exploitation by those smarter than them..

    And the operational methodologies of Microsoft is a great example of absolute power corrupting absolutely. The sum total of their intent is what defines the face of evil, as it is well planed and executed malicious intentional destruction of any form of communication via any system they can't possess.

    Decency is not dead, as shown by those who struggle for its survival.

    However it is obvious that those who thrive on the power base of Microsoft should ask themselves if that is really the world they want to live in... One in which most of humanity's efforts are focused on the maintenance of inherently corrupted communications with hundreds of millions of man years of wasted time patching the un-patchable and paying equivalent sums of money to those who possess and own the system itself in perpetual servitude of that system.

    OLPC was not going to save the world, but its ideals with open source for its malleability and freedom of the future was a nice idea, and that is why Microsoft must destroy it.

    Will Microsoft succeed, of course not, but the train wreck in communications technologies that will follow in the wake of their collapse might cause people to ponder what a better world might have looked like.

    Good night and good luck

  39. Mike VandeVelde

    @ A J Stiles

    "Build a man a fire, he is warm for a night. Light that man on fire, he is warm for the rest of his life."

  40. muvaffak gozaydin

    why good projects get bad like this

    5 years ago there was great hope and happiness for OLPC.

    The more project delayed the more suspicion accumulated.

    Now there is no trust on OLPC.

    The only way OLPC can get trust again, Very easy :

    " give OLPC to USA consumers. If they buy Negroponte can get trust again . "

    I am so sorry for the end of OLPC.

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