I am disappointed to hear that the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative may be changing its original focus of providing a low-cost laptop to the world’s poorest children. Originally, the small device was to enter the market at $100 USD but had a production release price of $188 USD. It is still low-cost by any standard. It may take a huge jump in price if the OLPC group changes from the free Sugar OS, based on Linux, to the costly, proprietary, and soon to be unavailable Windows XP.

The cost of Windows XP is not the only factor in this equation. The hardware requirements are also higher for XP than for a Linux-based OS. And what happens when there are no more patches, fixes, and support available for the potentially hundreds of thousands of OLPC users? They will have an attractive doorstop or worse they will end up in landfills.

Chairman of the OLPC program, Nicholas Negroponte, is taking some heat over this whole “switch to Windows” suggestion. He claims that Sugar isn’t perfect and a switch to Windows would broaden its appeal. Walter Bender, president of software and content, has bailed-out of the project for sketchy reasons but many suggest that it is due to this XP scuttlebutt. Whatever Bender’s reason was for leaving the project, I feel confident that he will pick up a similar project or continue to work on the open source version of the OLPC project.

Perhaps companies like Microsoft should donate their Windows XP Operating System to the project and a few developers to keep it running. That would certainly bring some good will into their less than perfect corporate reputation.

If we truly want to provide laptops to every child, there needs to be a concerted effort to do so. A single non-profit company and a few developers with some spare time can’t do it. The project needs a dedicated work force regardless of the Operating System it uses. Of course, I would prefer that they use Linux but if Microsoft were to donate XP or another OS (OK, not Vista) to it, I would be happy. Maybe Apple should step up on this one and provide OS X.

The Operating System, and the bickering that follows, is far less important than the goal of the project itself: To provide one laptop per child.

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jwenting 1,649

The entire OLPC project is a farce.
It's NOT "for every child", not even "for every poor child".
It's only available to governments of specific third world countries, not to parents everywhere.
Why can Zimbadwe order a thousand of the things (in theory) and distribute them to the entire extended family of Robert Mugabe but a schoolteacher in a school in rural Kansas where the children have never seen a computer because their parents all depend on foodstamps and can't afford them is can't because the US is "too rich"?
To say the very least it's dishonest.

Switching the OS to Windows is actually a good idea. It WILL make the thing (which so far is a dismal failure in sales) more appealing as it is, like it or not, the world standard for operating systems.
System requirements are no higher than for a decent modern version of Linux.
And with Microsoft and the Gates Foundation behind it it's quite likely it will be available to the project at a hefty discount and probably for free for machines donated to charitable organisations.

som3on3 15

Micorsoft sucks! they could give winxp for free but... they don't want to do it. that's why they will fall