What is the future of Sugar?

Walter Bender, who recently left OLPC amid ideological differences over the future of the Sugar interface and the use of Windows on the XO laptop, launched a new foundation last week to advance the UI independent of the XO. The Sugar Labs Foundation intends to continue working with OLPC, but it is unclear if they will incorporate a port of Sugar to Windows.

Walter Bender, who recently left OLPC amid ideological differences over the future of the Sugar interface and the use of Windows on the XO laptop, launched a new foundation last week to advance the UI independent of the XO. The Sugar Labs Foundation intends to continue working with OLPC, but it is unclear if they will incorporate a port of Sugar to Windows. According to a PC World article,

GNU/Linux will remain the platform of choice for the development and distribution of Sugar, Bender said in an interview. However, Sugar Labs is not promoting operating systems; it intends use open source as a tool to promote a learning model, he said.

The give and take of the open-source development model embodies the culture of learning and education. "A transfer of this culture could greatly enhance the education industry and its ability to engage teachers and students," he said.

The new Sugar Labs Wiki provides a nice outline of the features and benefits of the Sugar user interface. However, the future of this project (still funded by OLPC for now) remains unclear if OLPC orphans Sugar in favor of Windows.

Versions of Sugar have already been bundled with Ubuntu and Fedora, but it remains to be seen if educators will pick up on this interface outside of the XO laptops. However, as development continues and the interface matures (and speeds up; the current version running on the XO isn't exactly snappy), Sugar Labs may actually find more success for the UI if it isn't onboard the apparently sinking OLPC ship.