As Ivan Krstić predicted in his May 13th blog post (see "Intense (and really thoughtful) ranting from the OLPC front"), the OLPC XO will start shipping with Windows XP, minus the Sugar interface and open source tools that allow full implementation of the XO hardware (e.g., mesh networking).
So much of what makes the XO innovative surrounds Sugar and easy, immediate collaboration between students via mesh. While Mary Jo Foley covered the details out of Redmond and OLPC quite thoroughly, I have to toss in my 2 cents from Ed Tech. This is pandering, plain and simple. Negroponte himself is quoted in the New York Times as saying, “The people who buy the machines are not the children who use them, but government officials in most cases...And those people are much more comfortable with Windows.”
Well, if the politicians are comfortable with Windows, then feel free to dump years of innovative thinking and constructionist educational modeling. Did I always agree with OLPCs approaches? No, in fact I was a vocal opponent in many cases. However, few (myself included) could deny that OLPC brought a lot of innovation to the table. Sugar itself is a great interface. Sure, it needs polish and refinement, but it's a really cool way of looking at how you relate to others around you, as well as the content you and others create.
Now the XO is shipping with standalone Windows only; since XP doesn't support mesh and no one has ported Sugar to Windows, the XO is basically just another semi-rugged funny looking laptop. Any chance educators might get back to deciding the best way for kids to work together via technology rather than letting politicians decide?
And any chance OLPC might think about teaching kids in new ways rather than just being another Windows-based OEM?