Government // Enterprise Architecture
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4/23/2008
05:54 PM
Serdar Yegulalp
Serdar Yegulalp
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One Laptop Per Child -- And For Microsoft, Too

Looks like the OLPC project, much vaunted for its use of open source to bring commodity computing to developing nations, is about to become yet another Microsoft-by-default domain.  In an AP article, OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte talked about how the OLPC's XO notebook ought to soon be available as a dual-boot with either Linux or a cut-down version of Windows XP ... and maybe someday become an XP-o

Looks like the OLPC project, much vaunted for its use of open source to bring commodity computing to developing nations, is about to become yet another Microsoft-by-default domain.  In an AP article, OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte talked about how the OLPC's XO notebook ought to soon be available as a dual-boot with either Linux or a cut-down version of Windows XP ... and maybe someday become an XP-only machine.  Ugh.

This is depressing news given how Linux has recently made inroads with the low-cost PC market, only to have Microsoft push back by offering XP for the same hardware.  Even though XP has a bigger system footprint and memory demands than Sugar, the Linux derivative that the XO runs, there's talk of bulking up the next iteration of the XO to meet XP's demands.  (At this rate they might as well call it the XPO.)

Those changes aren't going to come without cost, and one of the big attractions of the XO was meant to be its price tag.  Negroponte suggested that the XO hasn't been adopted as widely because Windows apps wouldn't run on it by default -- something which Intel's competing Classmate PC does out of the box, but it comes at a higher price for precisely that reason.

You could look at this as evidence that Microsoft is just getting that much more desperate to make sure Windows is everywhere, and that it can't play this game forever without undercutting itself badly.  I suspect that on some level it has already realized that -- hence its "mesh" initiative, where the PC itself is less important than the network services that can be offered for it.  But it's not giving up on the omnipresence of Windows anytime soon -- especially not in countries where computing for the masses is just beginning to take off.

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