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No Windows (Officially) On OLPC 179

Kadin2048 writes "Despite reports last week in major news sources indicating that the One Laptop Per Child project was in negotiations with Microsoft to bring Windows XP to the low-cost platform, Walter Bender, president of Software and Content at OLPC, said in an interview with Ars Technica, 'We are a free and open-source shop. We have no one from OLPC working with Microsoft on developing a Windows platform for the XO.'"
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No Windows (Officially) On OLPC

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  • by Timesprout ( 579035 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @08:46AM (#18970907)
    re MS forcing the price of the OLPC up with their hardware requirements look very silly now doesn't it.
  • by NeverVotedBush ( 1041088 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @08:51AM (#18970949)
    I am glad to hear that it won't be Windows. Open software is a much better choice when you are trying to distribute low-cost computers to every child. Windows would have locked them into the Windows upgrade cycle, required frequent net access for updates, and would have just hidden a lot of the internals from the kids.

    Open software, while it also requires updates, gives them a much better platform on which to learn. They can explore *nix operating systems, add programs - almost always for free, plus it will build an open software user base around the world. Not that that isn't already happening as more and more countries and companies switch to open source software, but by bringing on a new generation, this will be the push to put open source over the top.
  • Good to know (Score:1, Insightful)

    by MatrixCubed ( 583402 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @08:52AM (#18970963) Homepage
    Windows has no place on a system built with the ideals for which OLPC strives.
  • Re:Good to know (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bob54321 ( 911744 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @09:06AM (#18971077)
    It is interesting to see that choice is good, unless someone may have the choice to install software from Microsoft. I know when I get a new computer, I like having the choice to run windows.

    Given who the laptops are going to, my guess is that Microsoft would have to give away any version of windows that actually ran on the computer. It is not as if the owners a going to have spare money lying around to buy a license.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 03, 2007 @09:09AM (#18971119)
    It's also a great way of ensuring that they never threaten the jobs of any of us in the first world, since they won't have a clue how to use the OS that 95% of our businesses use.

    Says the person who learns by rote. []

    I'm willing to bet these kids will be exposed to more OSs than you & know more about general computing concepts than you when they're twenty.

    The lucky kids will grow up with OLPC, be exposed to other linux flavours/Windows/OS X/whatever in other situations & end up know more about computer than you EVER will.
  • by Silver Sloth ( 770927 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @09:18AM (#18971257)
    I suppose it's inherrant in /. that you equate OS usage with job ability.

    The most important thing is that they are getting access to the internet, with all that that implies. As such it doesn't matter what OS they use, or realy which browser. But above and beyond that, anyone with any nous can swap between OS with little or no difficulty and it really doesn't matter if the office tools are M$ or OO, they both teach you how to use office tools.

    And, cost wise, if it's a choice between an affordable system with OSF tools, or an unaffordable system with M$ tools....
  • Spare me (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @09:24AM (#18971329) Homepage Journal
    Open software is a much better choice when you are trying to distribute low-cost computers to every child. Windows would have locked them into the Windows upgrade cycle, required frequent net access for updates, and would have just hidden a lot of the internals from the kids.

    Get real, these are not machines destined for upgrades and I seriously doubt a full blown version of windows would have ever be used.

    Besides, if you want to get nit picky. Windows delivers updates very easily and wholly hidden should you choose. Its by far one of the easiest methods out there. Second, the people destined to get these machines are not going to care one whit about the "internals".

    These PCs are not about exploring an operating system, its about getting to the end user the information they need to lead better lives. The last thing on the minds of the supporters is a war between unix and windows. They are more concerned with making sure these people can communicate with each other, receive information helpful to their daily lives (like weather), and provide education to children who may not have access to a teacher.

    On a side note, I still think the OLPC is more feel good than do good. We are still relying on these governments actually doing what we want them to do with these tools and we still have the belief that people actually want them in the countries we are sending them too. My fear is way too many of these will end up along the roadside with the other trash.
  • that's fine (Score:3, Insightful)

    by r00t ( 33219 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @09:40AM (#18971519) Journal
    The 1% of kids who care are the 1% who can do the most to power the economy. They are the ones worth supplying computers to, even at the effective $10000 per machine if you assume the other kids (99%) get no use out of their machines.
  • by YU Nicks NE Way ( 129084 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @09:47AM (#18971617)
    Here's a thought: perhaps the OLPC software does require the extra space? I'm really tired of the chronic mantra that "Linux/FreeBSD/whatever doesn't need memory/CPU speed/whatever" -- it's a classic piece of misdirection. Yes, Linux itself can run on a stripped-down system -- but GNU/Linux is a memory hog, particularly when GUI interfaces are involved.

    I think it's far more likely that Negroponte followed the lead of his brother who believed in flowers-and-candy welcomes on the basis of a serial con-man he should have seen through. Go back to the early pieces on OLPC: how many people kept saying that (Nick) Negroponte was either deluded or lying about the cost, and that by the time it came out, the OLPC would cost almost exactly what a cheap laptop with Windows cost? Surprise -- that's exactly what happened.
  • by TheMeuge ( 645043 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @10:21AM (#18972085)
    Something tells me that the people that the program is targeting are not going to be doing many spreadsheets for a Fortune500 company.
  • by eno2001 ( 527078 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @10:37AM (#18972323) Homepage Journal
    Looks like someone is assuming that the CIOs of the future are idiots. Only an idiot latches onto one single tool and eschews all others. I'm a 100% hardcore Linux guy, but I don't avoid Windows or Macintosh. Why? Because I can use them all completely and thoroughly to do whatever it is I need. How is it that I can navigate multiple OS platforms so easily? Because I have a clear understanding of what it is that the system is doing behind the scenes instead of just memorizing how an application works. Gimp? Photoshop? Same thing in my mind. CMD is just sh's retarded cousin. "My Computer"? Finder? Nautilus? Konqueror? All identical concepts in my mind. There is NO difference if you're not a moron. Now wake the fuck up, get to learning and quit posting worthless shit on the net you asswipe.
  • by PinkyDead ( 862370 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @10:40AM (#18972367) Journal
    ...but that lack of Windows on the OLPC could be an issue.

    Mainly because your average Joe Schmo is absolutely convinced that Windows is a program for writing letters on, or something equally stupid. The lack of interoperability with the rest of the world (however stupid the rest of the world is) puts people at a serious disadvantage.

    For instance, we all know that ODT is the superior document format, but try giving one to someone (in the Joe Schmo category) who only uses Word. They look at you as if you had two heads. Same thing is actually quite common for the pdf format (I'm telling you, it happens).

    The OLPCs are not going to people who are sitting on the side of a ditch oblivious of the wider IT world. They will have heard of Windows, and they will want to know why they are getting this 'second-rate' linux thingy. When they do business they will do it with some idiot who is blissfully unaware of anything outside of Office.

    I wouldn't for one second suggest that Windows should be shipped with the OLPC. But there are perception issues that must be dealt with.

    I'm reminded of the film 'The Shipping News' - when asked what kind of computer he wants, Quoyle says 'an IBM'. He didn't know whether it was any good or not, he just knew that it was the 'right' answer. And unfortunately, at the moment 'Microsoft' is the 'right' answer.
  • by DragonWriter ( 970822 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @10:42AM (#18972409)
    All it really seems to say is that OLPC staff aren't working on porting Windows, which no one, that I recall, ever claimed. The project has, however, also stated [] that Qanta, the company that is building the computer for the project, is working with Microsoft on Windows for the computer.
  • by ceroklis ( 1083863 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @11:04AM (#18972807)

    First, I have nothing against users or editors of proprietary software. As an individual user you can evaluate software on different criteria (functionality, price, familiarity, ease of use, supported platforms, use of closed or open file formats/protocols, code quality, existence of irritating activation/licensing/time bomb schemes, support options, ability to study/audit/modify the code, ability to distribute modified versions, ...) and make choices based on what is more important to you. Not everyone will arrive at the same conclusions and I have no problem with that.

    What I was pointing out is simply that contrary to what some enthusiastic supporters of the OLPC project seem to think (particularly on this forum), it may not have that great an impact on the promotion of free software. This is important because many support the project not (only) because of its obvious goals of democratizing computers, facilitating communication, facilitating learning, encouraging development of indigenous technology, and the like, but because they believe that encouraging these countries to use free software is (one of) its most important quality/(ies).

    And I am not suggesting that the OLPC project should do anything to prevent installing external software on their hardware. Choosing the free software path is a decision that only the participating governments can make, not the project. So I am not blaming it in any way.

    Am I blaming the governments that may hypothetically put windows on these things ? Yes. Individuals can do what they want but a government has responsibilities. Rendering a whole country dependent on a foreign vendor is not a good idea. I am not saying free software is necessarily the answer but at the very least they should encourage development of a local IT infrastructure. India or China are exemplary in this regard. And I do think wasting money on windows licenses, forcing citizens to buy specific software to access government-produced documents, or taking the risk to loose these documents altogether if the vendor drop support for the only software reading the closed format their are written in, is not responsible. I also do think that requiring software used in schools to be free is not a bad policy if it can encourage students to get interested in software.

  • by marcello_dl ( 667940 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @11:05AM (#18972821) Homepage Journal
    Windows is easy to use if the only OS you ever used is windows.
  • electricity (Score:2, Insightful)

    by zogger ( 617870 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @11:35AM (#18973367) Homepage Journal
    All of those used computers and the displays needed you mention require being plugged into the mains, which may or may not exist where these little laptops are going. The laptops are self powered with a pull string generator charger. That makes a rather big difference one might think. They are also LAPTOPS, which means the kids can haul them to and from school, etc. They also have integral MESH NETWORKING, which your used desktop systems don't have.

    And so on. Every one of these points has been brainstormed, and the project as it stands was determined to be the best over-all compromise for the situation and project, which is primarily an educational project, and the primary use of the proposed machines is for them to have the ability to have hundreds of books cheaply, and to be able to custom tailor what the various nations and kids need and want.

    As for it being crippled, on the contrary, there are some spiffy new hardware designs coming out of that project, just the self powered part and the display innovations have made it worthwhile, as this tech will expand into general planetary gadget-dom. As to the expense, do some basic math, run the cost of hundreds of hard copy books plus shipping, etc, to each individual kid, compared to a lightweight upgradeable e-book reader that has the ability to keep pulling down new books as they come out, plus let the kids write,draw, create, etc and you'll see this option is way, WAY cheaper than the traditional methods, short,medium or long term.

    If you think of it more as a decent networkable e-book reader/multi functional decent screen sized PDA that is self powered, then it makes more sense than thinking of it as a standard laptop or desktop replacement. The same tool could conceivably be a kids entire set of books and learning tools throughout their entire primary school years. It is going to be an economic *deal* for these nations, not a burden, it is going to drastically reduce educational costs at the same time as it expands resources, a win/win thing.
  • by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @02:18PM (#18976061)
    I could see either an SD slot or the extra FLASH but both seem to provide the same feature of added storage space. And just because the chipset has the support, it's not free or cheap. The SD slot required a new case and planarboard layout and it opens the package to environmental incursions. But like I said, putting expanded onboard FLASH or removable FLASH provide the same function. As far as increasing system runtime memory from 128MB to 256MB goes, it's a toss up as to if this really buys you anything in that the device is a limited function laptop and not a general purpose laptop.

    So, where did all the extra cost come from? The CPU upgrade was free, there's double the DRAM and FLASH and the CPU uses far less power than the previous version IIRC( 1.5W compared to 3W ). But there's little talk about the fact that the battery went from NiMH to LiON. Surely the power requirements/loads were factored in before this latest change. What was driving that change and did it also change the charging system too. Granted, LiON does not have the internal self-discharge rate of NiMH but they are far more expensive and not forgiving in charge regiment.

    I will also say that I've SEEN how Microsoft works for over 20 years and when Bill Gates goes public and bashes a project to educate poor kids around the world, he and his company are a threat to the project. They are a business and have no interest in feeding the world or other humanitarian effort except to put a Microsoft Windows desktop OS and Microsoft software in front of them. The very day I heard that Quantus was the OLPC partner, I wondered if their contracts to build Microsoft systems would allow Microsoft to somehow derail the manufacturing process. It's not a conspiracy theory, it is a fact of how Microsoft does business.

    I'll be brining up a OLPC dev env and will see how their python based Sugar does. To me, when I saw that the original CPU didn't have L2 cache, it definitely put a question mark on the performance aspect of the device. It is very tough to see the price keep going up though.

  • by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @02:50PM (#18976659)
    That is the one thing I just can not get across to people who are afraid to try Linux instead of Windows. These people are having a very hard time keeping their systems running and many cases have paid over $200 a couple of times to have their systems completely rebuilt because of software problems. It seems that a very few actually understand the basic concepts and just memorize ways to do certain tasks. You wouldn't believe how many Windows users email me by finding an old email and clicking the 'reply' button instead of creating a new email with new subject and my email address.

    What I'm hoping is that the OLPC project, because it is 'different' will give these kids a chance to look at other systems with an eye towards the concepts required instead of memorization. The fact that the entire system is open to exploration might also help feed the desire of the youths to learn more than just using the applications. IE, I hope there will be some simple tools to create basic programming concepts so later on, when they see something like Design, they'll not be afraid to try changing existing programs.

    BTW, kids today are still not taught the basics of using computers. They are taught how to use certain applications and nothing more. Have people noticed you keep hearing people talking about creating "a powerpoint" or "an excel"? It's not flattering in this day and age and it does not help them when they enter the business world. IMO.


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