OLPC meets XP: Does charm matter?

Summary:The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project is prepping an Windows-XP powered version of its XO device and the big takeaway is that the charm has left the building.Will charm matter  to OLPC's mission?

The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project is prepping an Windows-XP powered version of its XO device and th

e big takeaway is that the charm has left the building.

Will charm matter  to OLPC's mission? See gallery (right).

CNet News's Ina Fried reports:

Microsoft has managed to slim down the OS enough to boot up off a 2GB flash memory card and has written drivers for a number of the XO laptop's unique features, such as its scratch pad, game controller, and built-in camera.

But what's missing in the Windows version is the personality that oozes out of the Linux incarnation. The Linux model comes with an integrated suite of educational games, programming tools, and other software, all built around a kid-friendly OS shell known as Sugar.

I can attest for Sugar's charm since I have an XO and my daughter liked it. However, my daughter also knows XP and Mac for that matter. Perhaps that XO on XP would be more useful to her.

These are all open-ended questions and people will debate the Linux vs. XP thing forever. But for the OLPC's broader mission--putting laptops in developing markets--having two OS flavors makes sense.

But let's not get confused about the Windows vs. Linux thing. What makes the XO work is that it's in a form factor that works for kids--a fact me and my fat fingers have learned repeatedly. And double bonus points if teachers integrate the technology into lesson plans.

More reading:

Topics: Enterprise Software, Laptops, Linux, Microsoft, Open Source, Windows


Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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