OLPC - No Windows and Office for you ... officially at least

Summary:Walter Bender, president of Software and Content at OLPC, says that the OLPC project is "a free and open-source shop" and that "no one from OLPC working with Microsoft on developing a Windows platform for the XO."

Last week Nicholas Negroponte, former director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab now head of the nonprofit One Laptop Per Child project, gave analysts and journalists the impression that the $175 OLPC (the price hike was announced at the same time) would be able to run Windows as well as Linux.  But according to Walter Bender, president of Software and Content at OLPC, this isn't the case.

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Speaking to Ars Technica, Bender said:

"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.  MS doesn't get any special treatment from OLPC."

The OLPC Myths section of the OLPCWiki sheds some light on the situation (although this entry is quite old now):

The proposed $100 machine will run a Microsoft Windows operating system

True: Microsoft is working on a Windows based system that can be executed on the OLPC laptop. False: There is no strategy change. The OLPC is continuing to develop a Linux-based software set for the laptop in conjunction with Red Hat. But since the OLPC project is open we cannot (and maybe even don't want to) stop other people from developing and supplying alternate software packages.

One way or another, Microsoft will get in on the OLPC projectWhat this seems to imply is that Microsoft is working on software for the system, but there's no official support for this from XO developers.  But since this is an open source project the $3 Windows/Office bundle might still make it onto the XO since there doesn't need to be a relationship between Microsoft and the OLPC for this to happen.

One way or another, Microsoft will get in on the OLPC project.  There's too much at stake for this not to happen.

Nonetheless, this media mix-up sounds to me like a case of one hand not knowing what the other hand is doing.  Not a good sign for a project with such ambitious goals. 

Check out the two OLPC galleries - one showing the software interface and the other showing how the hardware designs have changed over time.

Topics: Microsoft, Enterprise Software, Laptops, Windows


Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is an internationally published technology author who has devoted over a decade to helping users get the most from technology -- whether that be by learning to program, building a PC from a pile of parts, or helping them get the most from their new MP3 player or digital camera.Adrian has authored/co-authored technic... Full Bio

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