Will Windows 'XO' bear fruit for OLPC?

Will Windows 'XO' bear fruit for OLPC?

Summary: Just this morning, I read MSFT working on XP for XO and I wondered: Why?If the OLPC project has accomplished nothing else, it has made Microsoft (and Intel) stand up and take notice that third-world schoolchildren represent a huge potential market.


Marc WagnerJust this morning, I read MSFT working on XP for XO and I wondered: Why?

If the OLPC project has accomplished nothing else, it has made Microsoft (and Intel) stand up and take notice that third-world schoolchildren represent a huge potential market. But still ...

To date, OLPC has had only marginal success convincing third-world governments to buy the XO. (Even hundreds of thousands of units won't meet OLPC goals, or make a dent in improving conditions in the under-developed world -- it will take millions of units.) Meanwhile, Intel has introduced the Classmate -- arguably, a much more flexible solution -- and has had as much success.

The main difference between the XO and the Intel offering is that the Classmate runs standard distros of Linux as well as Windows XP out-of-the-box and the XO requires a hacked (some might say proprietary) version of Linux. The Intel Classmate also offers a level of hardware flexibility which the XO cannot match. Oh, and Intel offers training for educators and full hardware support for the Classmate.

At a similar price-point, there is also the ASUS Eee PC -- another Linux box offering Windows XP compatibility. From what I'm reading, OLPC is offering no training and no support for the XO. Would you buy a product without technical support? Well, why would a third-world government?

Considering the relative success of the Intel Classmate and the XO so far, I see no compelling reason for Microsoft to care about porting a crippled version of Windows XP to the XO. Apparently, Microsoft is betting that I am wrong (probably a good move) and hoping that by having an XO port of Windows available that potential OLPC customers might demand that OLPC sell them Windows-equipped XO laptops.

There's no doubt that Microsoft is in it for the money. So is Intel and ASUS. So? Even Nicholas Negroponte cares about the money (because he has to sell enough of them to get the cost down to $188, let alone his ultimate goal of $100 per XO) -- though he would claim that schoolchildren in the developing world are his primary concern -- and who am I to question his motives? Frankly, it's not his motives that concern me -- it's his naivety, but that's another story.

If having Windows XP on the XO, makes it more marketable, then that's great. Frankly, I'd rather the XO be capable of running a standard Linux distro out-of-the-box than to have it run an incompatible hack of Windows XP -- 0r Linux for that matter.

In the end though, it's customers (those footing the bill, not end-users) who will dictate whether the XO succeeds or flops -- regardless of the OS on board.

Topics: Software, Intel, Linux, Microsoft, Open Source, Operating Systems, Windows

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  • You are again trashing Christopher Dawson's blog. Get you own blog

    instead of trashing somebody else's.
    • I SECOND THAT! (nt)

    • Why not try facts and argument

      You know Donnie, like adults do.

      Jsut keep running the benchmarks and distros, the devil has work for idle hands
      • It is just that this blog is out of place, and trashing the brand

        of another. He sure does have the right to express his opinion, but it should be in the correct place.
    • Chris and I have shared this blog ...

      ... from the start. I have the most profound respect for Chris. The last thing I would do would be to trash him, or his efforts on behalf of Ed Tech.
      M Wagner
      • And, why don't you get you own blog. You style is not compatible, and you

        blog on a computer for primary education that you know nothing about.
    • Can we elevate the content here a bit?

      Although I appreciate your loyal readership, I have to say that I can't cover the entire topic of educational technology myself. Universities and K-12 are completely different worlds in many ways, yet so closely related that they belong in the same blog.

      While I have some insights into university IT and Marc has some insights into K-12, in general this blog has far greater depth and breadth than it could if I were blogging alone.

      If you don't agree with what Marc says, then tell him and explain why. I'd encourage you to do the same for me (and you certainly do). However, Marc doesn't trash my brand - he provides a different perspective, just as guest bloggers will (if any of you will start submitting!). While I'm the anchor blogger and ultimately responsible for content, I need other contributors (even through insightful talkbacks, as well as co-bloggers, guest bloggers, etc.) to make this blog really useful to the widest audience.

      I've seen other notes on Technorati that this blog is too K12-centric. Others have reminded me directly that I have readers from large districts, small districts, districts in India, and universities in the Netherlands. It takes a village, folks, as the old saying goes. Let's keep the popularity contests in the high schools and talk about Ed Tech, shall we?

      Thanks a lot,
      Chris Dawson
      • A blog should not try to cover all of education, and you should develop a

        brand. Allowing an idiot to jump in unexpectedly with an incompatible style just reduces the value of your blog. Especially this one, where he is at a university, and jumps in to talk about OLPC for grades 1-6.

        Just separate you blogs and get it over with.
      • Another thing, you should AT LEAST write an introduction and set the tone

        for a guest blogger. It could be as little as a couple of sentences, but is your picture at the top, and every blog should at least start out with something from you.
      • My biggest problem

        was distinguishing who was writing what. Up until a couple weeks ago the only way you knew it was Marc writing was if you happened to notice a tiny by-line sandwiched between the entry subject and a bunch of other tiny stuff that no one reads. That's since been improved somewhat by the addition of his picture where the article content starts. But it's still a bad design in my opinion.

        I agree that there is place for Marc's point of view in this blog. I just think the design needs to be cleaned up. I would say the same thing for the other blogs with multiple writers.
        Michael Kelly
        • Still, why not just add another blog, with another picture. We are talking

          virtual ink here. Why does Marc want to tag along with Christopher? Does he think people won't read his worthless blogs if they are under his own picture and name? Exactly why does he not want to stand on his own?
          • The way I think of it

            Think of ZDNet as a newspaper. A newspaper has an editor-in-chief. It also has a sports editor, and that sports editor usually is a major contributor to the sports page. It also has several individual sports columnists, many of whom have differing opinions and viewpoints. Some newspapers even have the individual columnists write point-counterpoint articles on one subject to give its readers multiple points of view.

            Chris is the sports editor and Marc is a sports columnist, only substitute "education" for "sports". And I think that makes Dan Farber the editor-in-chief. And if you notice Dan's blog which he shares billing with Larry Dignan, there are other columnists who contribute (e.g. [url=http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=7282]Chris Matyszczyk[/url]). I don't mind that one bit, but like I said, make it clear at the beginning of the article who is responsible for its content. In a newspaper, the writer's name (and usually picture) is at the top of the article in big letters, not the sports editor's name. I'm not saying take Chris Dawson's name down from the blog title, but just make it more clear when someone other than Chris is making a contribution. And like I said, it's better now (although not in Chris Matyszczyk's case in the link above), but the design is obviously patchwork and it shows. And I think an updated design taking all the blogs into consideration would be a good idea.
            Michael Kelly
          • So, after you click on the article, you should NOT see Christophers face

            OR name again. How about even the initials of the blogger to the right of the title as well.

            But, still, what is the problem of separating them??? This is a virtual space for crying out loud. Have a main title of education, with two or three blogs underneath.

            This is the ONLY ZDnet blog with multiple contributers that does NOT have the pictures of all the bloggers, AND, where the bloggers have a conflicting style.
  • No.

    All this talk about training, etc, the Sugar OS on XO requires no training. Security is also baked in, and it has mesh capabilities, ultra low power, etc...

    Now, all that aside, what is the infrastructure to update the anti-virus and anti-malware that is and will be rampant on an XP solution. XP, as good as it is, is a completely insecure operating system with a few thousand pieces of armor applied (and pretty good armor with SP2) however, it will never be secure. What good are any laptops that are exploited with the 300th new hole found because none of the kids can update or know how to update their anti-X suites. Which 3 complete suites are you going to give away free because no single solution is complete, you need layers.

    MS must port Vista or an actual secure ultra thin cousin where security it baked in, no one (except the 3rd world hacker community) will want XP on whichever laptop wins. I still chuckle when I hear of XP as fallback solutions, why do people want an 8 year old OS. MS has to focus on Vista for these machines (again or the ultra thin cousin), otherwise, it is throwing good money after bad.

    Now, I must pick a bone with you about the current "lack" of success of the XO OLPC. As far as I know, they are just now (the past couple of months) ramping up first production and Mexico, Peru, Nigeria and many others have FIRM orders. Toss in the, since Early Nov, the give one get one to the tune of $2M (that's 10K laptops per day) plus straight donations and we are probably already talking a half a million machines. If that's a failure, the iPhone is a colosal flop. I mean, seriously, ramp up of production was only announced in June.

    I also have to wonder, would Peru place and order for more than a 1/4 of a million of these machines WITHOUT looking at the project as a whole?

    Now, a serious question, are the others ready, today, complete solution, hardened OS, no software support needed, ready to be delivered today?

  • Any fruit that Windows bears

    Will be rotten fruit.

    What else could it be, coming from a rotten
    Ole Man
    • Shut up, Old Troll <nt>

      M.R. Kennedy
    • re: ...fruit that Windows bears

      <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wr__WVIpMxI&feature=related">don't have very long shelf life</a>
  • The thing was just released into production

    and we're already judging its success based on the fact that it has only sold in the hundreds of thousands?

    Any expectations of an overnight success are completely unrealistic. I mean how long did it take PCs to become mainstream in the US? 20 years? Why would we expect it to become mainstream in the third world in 20 days?
    Michael Kelly
    • Yes, it is funny for people to try to paint this as a failure when you have

      a backlog of over 300,000 units after just starting production. And, the OLPC has already forced everybody to re-think what kind of computers we need for education in general, and developing countries in particular.
      • By now, Nocholas Negroponte wanted ...

        ... to be producing millions of units per year. In the beginning, he was talking about 100 million per year.

        If that is any measure, he himself is not too happy about the slow progress of the project -- nor is he happy about Intel competing with the XO with a more flexible, expandable, and full-supported design (the Classmate) which, oh by the way, can run off-the-shelf software. The XO cannot.
        M Wagner