The last couple of days have seen fanboys as well as thoughtful commentators on both sides of the Vista/XP debate coming out of hibernation to discuss my posts. More than a few just complained that they were tired of the debate and hoped I'd move on. Well, these readers are kind of getting their wish. I'd like to take a few paragraphs to talk about a market in which Vista isn't even an option, a market that is near and dear to my heart, and is going to dominate much of Ed Tech in the next couple of years.
This, of course, is the cheap, ultraportable market. 1:1 computing (or at least a substantial change in the way we purchase computers for use in our schools) is about to become realistic in a variety of settings. All of a sudden, 2 or 3 classroom sets of laptops is feasible in even poor, inner-city schools. Intel has announced that it will be selling 2nd-generation Classmates in mature markets (read, North America and Europe) and OLPC America is working hard to get XOs on to kids' laps here in the States. The Eee from Asus has already been adopted by several districts and more competitors are on the way.
So what is missing from all of these brand new computers? Windows Vista! These machines simply won't get Vista off the ground. OLPC has repeatedly flirted with the idea of a Windows XP image on the XO and Asus recently announced that it expects the majority of its sales to be machines with XP pre-loaded. Intel, although more than happy to work with operating system vendors other than Microsoft (and having done so successfully with Mandriva and Metasys) acknowledges that a majority of customers want Windows XP.
Hmmm...So what does this tell us? That we are generally so resistant to change that we'll settle for a 7-year old operating system instead of looking at new software optimized for these little laptops? Why saddle an entire new niche in what should be the most vibrant, innovative market available (that's education, by the way), with an outdated, deprecated OS?
Tell me why we should settle...Talk back below. Until then, I'll wait to see which Linux distros have been certified with the new Classmates.