back to article Microsoft readies XP for One Laptop Per Child computer

Microsoft has quietly released to manufacturing a tweaked version of Windows XP to run on the One Laptop Per Child XO computer. Microsoft’s marketing and communications wonk James Utzschneider offered some detail about its forthcoming release in a blog post late last week. “Microsoft internally ‘RTM'ed’ the Windows XP version …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    More viruses and trojans for the third world!

  2. Anonymous Coward

    >More viruses and trojans for the third world!

    Not to mention reliance on shoddy software and vendor lock in, so MS can screw them over as soon as they show any signs of having any money. Ah well, we wouldn't actually want "emerging economies" to actually stand a chance of competing would we?

    Mine's the one with the etch-a-sketch

  3. Doug Glass

    How Delightful

    Now the children of third world countries will learn the joys of crashes, BSoD, service pack FUBARs and all the other popular things that accompany XP. I'll never believe M$ is capable of creating a watered-down version of XP immune to any of its normal ills.

    I wonder if M$ will be able to resist threatening these children when they run afoul of an incomprehensible EULA?

    But I can only imagine how the RIAA is licking their chops at the though of having a whole new world of children to torment.

  4. Tom Silver badge

    Thank god for that

    its nice to know that in two or three years time there will be an update to this which will kill every XPXO in the world. We cant have charities giving away computers - companies have a right to make profits which override all other human rights!

    Or does it just seem that way?

  5. Dave

    Keeping it safe

    “We still have no plans to make Windows available for individuals who bought an XO in the Give 1 Get 1 program though"

    That's good, it keeps mine safe and provides an incentive for the Linux fraternity to continue to support what's in the field. I can see an install kit on a USB stick or SD card being made available for those who want to upgrade their XP machines to Linux...

  6. Gerry

    XO is about M$ world domination and not about learning.

    XO was supposed to be about learning, not about software. Until M$ came calling. Did M$ make Negroponte an offer he couldn't refuse, I wonder.

  7. paulc

    Cheating on boot time

    I'm convinced they cheated on the boot time... they must have booted one machine and then when it made it to the login screen, made a snapshot of the ram to use as a boot image to load in from the SD card... It's the only possible explanation...

  8. mittfh

    Malware Ahoy!

    Ooh goody - do I forsee a whole new generation of script kiddies honing their skills on this box? Or Nigerian 419ers 'educating' their offspring in the subtle art of MMF (Make Money Fast) scams?

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Regarding viruses and trojans in the third world...

    ...would more trojans not solve some of problems with viruses in the third world...

    ...Already out of the door.

  10. Ishkandar

    If you can't browbeat the business world with Vista....

    ...then threaten the kiddies of the third world with security failures unless they pony up with the money for upgrades !!

  11. JC

    @ Gerry

    I'm sure MS did make an offer that couldn't be refused. It wouldn't surprise me one bit if MS paid to have windows on these systems just to get a userbase in a previously nonexistent market instead of *allowing* 'nix to grow there.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Nice idea while it lasted

    The whole point of the XO was to make it cheap, allow it to be used as a device to leanr, but with the option to dig about underneath the covers of the enquiring mind wills, but thanks to M$ need to for world domination, they'll be no amazing IT literate people able to break out of the third-world bring their talents to the world stage, just another huge legion of brainwashed M$ zombies, ready to believe that COMPUTER = M$, like we already have 90% of the first world.

  13. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects
    Jobs Horns


    I think the problem with the XO is that it was going nowhere. No doubt the fix was already in before the team were anywhere near production.

    But it is hard to believe Intel and M$ were farting around avoiding all thoughts about it.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo

    So glad they turned down free OS X

    Don't get me wrong, I'd rather the XO stayed all open source.

    But IF they are going with a commercial OS, they should've taken Steve's offer of a free version of OS X. Sounds like they planned for Windows all along, and everything prior to this was posturing to get MS to give them the best price.

  15. Robert Forsyth
    Gates Horns

    Think of all the aid the Foundation can give...

    ... to the third world to buy MS products to use on XP.

  16. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects
    Jobs Horns

    Easy come easy go.

    I think the problem with the XO is that it was going nowhere. No doubt the fix was already in before the team were anywhere near production.

    But it is hard to believe Intel and M$ were farting around avoiding all thoughts about it.

  17. Charles Manning
    Thumb Down

    XO: dumb idea

    Got AIDS, famine and bad water? No problems: what you need is broadband and some shiny pixels.

    Tech support? No worries. Let them use Linux so they can fix their own problems.

    The cost of an XO or two and a year's internet connectivity is enough to dig a well for a village or buy all the books and pens that a small school needs.

    XO is the expected outcome of a geek-centric view of the world. Sure, there were some government minister types from some third world countries that contributed to XO but they were there for the gravy and have little concern with the people on the ground.

  18. PunkTiger

    One Blue Screen Per Child

    I wonder if Microsoft will put "Vista-Capable" stickers on them.

    Mine's the green and white one.

  19. tony trolle

    one xo per village

    is what i think will happen just like the one phone per village in parts of Africa.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Charles Manning (Re: AIDS, famine and bad water)

    Wow, that was patronising.

  21. zcat

    So it's *actually* running on the XO?

    It's been pointed out in a few different places that an earlier 'photo' of Windows XP running on the XO was a fairly crude photoshop job. The 'desktop' is square right to the corners and slightly overlaps the borders of the screen. Microsoft would probably argue that they only did this to get better screen contrast or whatever, but I've taken photos of an XO myself and the screen contents came out wonderfully clear.

    The video of XP running is also a little suspect; no apparent drive activity a lot of the time (that could just be because it's not running from the inbuilt flash memory) and the camera light is off when they're using the inbuilt camera. I could believe the lack of drive activity, but we know the camera LED is hard-wired so the camera can't operate without it lighting. It's a design feature.

    Anyhoo, If they've slimmed it down I can imagine it runs well enough after a fresh install, I've used XP on some fairly low-spec machines and it's not all that bad. But just wait until you install antivirus software or wait a few months for the crud to build up..

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    This is one of the most pathetic things I've ever read. MS release a customised OS for a charitable cause, and suddenly they're EVIL HIDEOUS MONSTERS ON PAR WITH HITLER, but when it was the FOSS/Linux agenda being pushed it was an altruistic wonderful thing?

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Competition time?

    Why doesn't The Register start a competition when this finally hits the streets. Basically, the first person who provides a picture of an XO with a BSOD gets a grand (£1000). No PhotoShop jobbies - well, actually the XO won't run PhotoShop. It will barely run Notepad! But you get the point.

    On another note: Is it Microsofts goal in life to slow computer technology down? First Vista on even high specced machines, and now XP on the XO and lapchilds. Lucky they are not into childcare, otherwise all of our children would end up slow! Then again, since they are forced to use Microsoft technology in schools it appears that MS are getting there via the backdoor.

    Mine's the one with the Etch-a-sketch with the blue screen of death.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo


    come on guys honestly what is going to more benificial to them a windows machine like the vast majority of the world with whom they are trying to compete with are using and is industry standard accross the globe. or an open sorce distribution of some sort which may or may not be around in the future, is hard to use and the skill's learned are unlikely to be of use in the work place unless they decied to become a system admin which is a little unlikely certainly on a large scale.

    this is about helping kids and giving them hope for the future not about promoting your fav distribution of open source, if MS are giving a free version of XP away then if you like MS or not it is a very good thing for these kids so don't knock it!

  25. Chris Parsons Bronze badge

    @Anonymous Coward

    Absolutely right. Does Steve Jobs really wear a halo all the time? Incidentally, why all this talk of BSODs? I am responsible for many XP desktops and, on the whole, they're pretty robust. Still, always fun to bash MS, isn't it?

  26. David Perry

    If it's gonna be windows...

    Why not Windows 98 SE? Runs like a dream on an old celeron 450 with 64mb RAM, so should fly on these things. They only need a basic word processor anyway :)

  27. Lager And Crisps
    Jobs Horns

    ...think of the children!

    Microsoft could not afford an entire generation to be exposed to a non-Microsoft centric view of the world. They would spend billions to try and halt the rising tide that is Linux (and FOSS in general) from breaking on the shores of an emerging market.

    This is all about mindshare, simple as that. Can you imagine millions of third world children educated in the use of Linux and FOSS? Microsoft saw this potential and reacted accordingly.

    I suspect Negroponte was wind and dined by the Redmond outfit and told about the error of his ways. He was then 'retooled' to work on Microsoft's behalf.

    Since these devices will not run Vista, XP was the only option left open to Microsoft. Ironic when you consider it's legacy status. Linux comes with all software included (office and multimedia etc) and represents a real world threat to the Microsoft empire. Does the OLPC come with Office 2007? Does it come with any version of Office included by default for free?

    Once the public hullabaloo has died down and receded they will depreciate this entire endeavour. Where will OLPC be then?

    And to those that have posted about Microsoft supporting a charitable cause and how they should be congratulated, what a crock of donkey droppings.

  28. Colin Millar

    @AC Re:@Charles Manning (Re: AIDS, famine and bad water)

    Patronising? Try Negroponte and partners if you want patronising. It is them that have decided that problems which they have no experience of can be resolved by spending part of the limited resources available on solutions which are only sustainable with a western level of support resources.

    This whole project is an attempt at a cynical lock-in. These people are as bad as tobacco companies and drug dealers hooking pre-teens. The MS only development simply confirms this.

  29. Torben Mogensen

    Black market

    One of the risks of any kind of relief programme is that your donations will be redirected to the black market instead of reaching the intended people.

    Having Windows on the XO increases the black-market value of the machines and, hence, also increases the risk that they will be snapped up for black market sale -- either before they ever get to the children or by offering the kids ten quid for their laptops (or just force them to hand it over for nothing).

    IMO, OLPC made three serious mistakes wrt. the XO:

    1. They chose an x86 processor which is both more power hungry than alternatives such as ARM and which made it inevitable that Windows would eventually be ported to it.

    2. When introducing the two-for-one programme, they made it legitimate for private persons to own XOs, which make black-market sale more viable (since you can always claim you got yours legally). A simple way to avoid this was not employed: Make the privately-sold XOs distinct from the donated by changing all the green plastic bits to, e.g., orange or blue. This would not be difficult to do (use the same molds, just add a different colour to the plastic) and it would be very difficult for black-marketeers to work around.

    3. Actually allowing Microsoft to make an official port of Windows, which exacerbates the above two issues.

    So, all in all they could not have made it any easier for black-marketeers to get rich by depriving school children of their donated laptops.

  30. Anonymous Coward


    what a load of hogwash, how many reasons can you find to criticize this donation from MS it’s easy to assume there is a hidden agenda as there normally is when big companies but remember MS was founded by Bill Gates who has given more so poor children the world over than anyone before by a very long way so that culture and mindset probably exist and will continue to for some time after his departure from MS. Don’t tell me bill only donates to the third world to help windows vista take over the world????

    Your pathetic arguments and there are many are created purely because this move doesn’t fit with your plan for open source, its hardly going to mean the end of open source now is it? It’s a set back so please stop now and pat MS on the back however hard that and support something that is good.

  31. Lager And Crisps
    Gates Horns

    ...R.E. hogwash!!

    ' please stop now and pat MS on the back however hard that and support something that is good.'

    My God!!!

    I nearly fell of my chair when reading this naive ramble of a 'praise be to our Lords at Microsoft' rant.

    Microsoft is in this for the money, you know the green stuff. Ole Billy Boy is not your saviour unless there is a profit in it.

  32. Avi

    @ ACs

    > ... MS release a customised OS for a charitable cause, and

    > suddenly they're EVIL HIDEOUS MONSTERS ON PAR

    > WITH HITLER..."

    It's not sudden at all. I think it's quite fair to presume this is along the same lines as MS's not-overly-friendly history. Obviously I'm hoping I'll be pleasantly surprised, but I can't see any reason to presume MS are doing this entirely out of the goodness of their hearts.

    > come on guys honestly what is going to more benificial

    > to them a windows machine like the vast majority of the

    > world with whom they are trying to compete with are using

    > and is industry standard accross the globe. or an open

    > sorce distribution of some sort which may or may not be

    > around in the future,"

    May or may not be around in the future? XP's only just about still around...

    <standard comment about the ease of support of OSS, since any developer can do it>.

    I'm not sure your argument that Windows is ubiquitous everywhere else is particularly strong, either. intra-company you get issues, sure, but inter-company there are so many incompatabilities (and non-windows boxes) that everyone tends to resort to 'real' standards in any case, IME.

    As for getting used to the 'wrong' UI, that changes substantially with every Windows release anyway, not a lot of point learning XP now if they're going to be forced into Vista-Lite or somesuch in two years.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    bah humbug

    Bah Humbug isn't it, yes bill gives away billions of 'greenbacks' to er um make 'greenbacks' to er what give away? yes i guess your right he's in it for the money because he rellay needs it? and you call me niave, bet the moon landings were fakes eh? either that or apollo really ran a version of linux.

  34. Lager And Crisps

    ...R.E.bah humbug!

    How did you type your response, did they loosen the restraints?

    I know, you where using Vista's built in speech recognition system. You can tell because the grammar and spelling is a little off.

    Was it hard to see what was in the content of your post because of all the spittle and phlegm that had congealed on the monitor?

    And why keep posting as 'Anonymous Coward'?

    I just love Microsofties, always a tenuous grasp on reality.

  35. Sam

    Irony alert

    "I know, you where using Vista's built in speech recognition system. You can tell because the grammar and spelling is a little off."

    That's WERE using..

  36. Anonymous Coward


    Maybe next they'll Open Source XP eh?

  37. Lager And Crisps
    Thumb Up


    Thanks Sam, I stand corrected.

    *mumbles something about the duff keyboard he's using*

  38. Martin
    Gates Horns

    D'oh missed opportunity M$ - install Vista

    Vista is so much faster and better and WOW and super-duper...

    Oh - they actually want it to work...?

    Ooops... my mistake...

  39. Mark
    Thumb Down

    Somebody call a waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaambulance

    ...Bill's taken the freetards' milk money.


    Can't you guys just be happy forcing your grandmother to use TARDOS?

  40. Christian Berger

    Hardware prices irrelevant for Windows PCs

    The Hardware prices are irrelevant anyhow if you have Windows, as no normal person can keep a Windows system running, so they will need an administrator. This greatly outweights the costs for any hardware. So it's irrelevant wether you pay 100 or 10000 Euros for a Windows computer, during it's livetime you will spend far more on the administrator.

  41. Gordon Crawford

    i will bite

    i will buy a cheap xo comp and donate it to any Linux company that will develop a free os for these poor kids and support it.. why should these kids be stuck on an os that is not sold any more ... or i will donate my 5 copies of win 98 SE if others agree to same..

  42. Manu T

    Why would you deny them XP?

    What's so wrong with wanting to run XP on that XO?

    Most of the first world use it anyway? So why deny them that pleasure?

    Someone mentioned Windows 98. That's no good OS but Windows 2000 is a much better alternative. So slimming down XP to Win2000-level might indeed be a good option. I can't see a fault in that.

    Why are we so against this? Win NT and derivates were never as bad as the fat32-windows versions. Also since most job-opportunities are targetted towards ppl with Windows knowledge it's inevitable anyway. So what's all the fuss about?

    Besides it's already mentioned that there are far better ways to spend that money in third world countries (digging a well indeed) so I seriously doubt that this XO effort will have real benefit no matter what OS it runs.

    Also (what most pll forget) it doesn't matter what OS your system runs. It's what you do with it (or want to with it) that matters. Again why always this crap about xp sucks and linux is better. Djeez. It doesn't matter.

    As for that remark about OSX. Steve doesn't want OSX to run on anything other than Apple hardware (which has premium pricetags). So there's no need to brag that up.

    Finaly, if it's really about bringing tech to the third world then there are far better options than a "notebook PC". For instance all smartphones have pc-like capacities and run circles around ANY laptop. I remember my Psion series 5, ARM-cpu, ran of 2 AA-batteries, good keyboard and fast enough for it was intended. I'm sure other ARM-based technology has evolved far beyond that series 5 handheld by now, isn't it?

    Oh well why do I care at all? It's all corporate battle. Who cares?

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