Microsoft and the One Laptop Per Child project have announced an agreement to work together on getting Windows XP available on the XO laptop, with trials starting in June 2008, and the RTM date set for August or September. Microsoft also demonstrated Windows XP Professional and Office 2003 running on the XO laptop – fully featured.
The press release sent out by Microsoft announcing the agreement reads:
Recognizing that the challenge of providing high-quality education for children in the developing world is too large to be solved by any single organization, Microsoft and OLPC are committed to working with governments and nongovernmental organizations to ensure the success of these pilot programs.
The implementation of Windows XP Professional on the XO laptop is not, in any way, limited or crippled, as the company explains. It’s feature-complete, has a battery life of 20 hours, boots in 50 seconds (which is 4 times faster than the original XO Linux implementation), and required a whole load of custom drivers in order for it to work on the XO, which has a 433Mhz AMD Geode processor, 256MB of RAM, and 1GB of Flash storage. Microsoft needed to write drivers for the various pieces of hardware in the XO laptop, and also a new BIOS that would allow Windows XP to be booted off a 2GB Flash card; the 1GB of internal storage of the XO was not enough to house Windows XP Professional and Office 2003.
Windows XP supports all the special features of the XO laptop, including the power-saving monochrome e-book display, networking, speakers, microphone, and its webcam. In the below .wmv video Bohdan Raciborski, of Microsoft’s Unlimited Potential, demonstrates all the features of the XO laptop running Windows XP Professional and Office 2003.
It’s not a popular thing to say in the intertubes, but I’m impressed with this implementation of Windows on the XO laptop. For such a limited device, its performce outstanding – just another shred of proof that contrary to popular belief, Windows NT is a very good system. Who knows, maybe Windows is the best platform to run Sugar.
One of the motivations for the child-oriented Sugar interface was to avoid that parents take the machines that were handed out to kids for their education. Since Microsoft seems to provide an ordinary Windows interface, how will they prevent this from happening?
<irony>I for one welcome many children to the world of malware and DRM eBooks.</irony>
Another question: If GNU/Linux was not user-friendly enough, why is OS X (or one of its lighter derivates) not considered or offered as a serious option? Even more, because Apple seems to have offered to provide such version.
This all seems a bit of a strange change of mind, that throws away all the intentions of this project, primarily the emphasis on education rather than providing a laptop. In some way the OLPC project seems to have lost its innocence and is just another laptop project. As such, they are putting themselves in the same playing field as the classmate PC, etc. This all seems sour to people who have contributed to OLPC as an education project.