The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project announced yesterday that Microsoft’s Windows XP operating system will be available on XO laptops in addition to the open source Linux operating system. The Windows-based XO systems will be deployed in upcoming pilot programs next month.
According to the press release, the plan is to have both Windows and Linux running on the machines, to let users decide what’s best. Microsoft worked with a variety of partners to develop customized drivers that enable Windows to run on the XO laptop. Windows now supports the laptop’s e-book reading mode, standard Wi-Fi networking, camera, writing pad and custom keys, as well as the power-saving and other features of the XO hardware.
“The people who buy the machines are not the children who use them, but government officials in most cases,” said Nicholas Negroponte, founder of the nonprofit group. “And those people are much more comfortable with Windows.”
“It’s been a controversial decision, but it looks like the OLPC XO has completed its transition from revolutionary education project to just another tiny Windows laptop with a useless keyboard — albeit one with a pleasantly whimsical design.”
Microsoft, through its Unlimited Potential, aims to transform education and foster a culture of innovation. By working with governments, intergovernmental organizations, nongovernmental organizations and industry partners, Microsoft hopes to reach the next 1 billion people who are not yet realizing the benefits of technology — by 2015.
Meanwhile, Sugar Labs announced it will take the laptop’s innovative interface, known as Sugar, to the “next level of usability and utility”, according to the BBC.
Sugar is available under the open-source GNU General Public License (GPL) to anyone who wants to extend it. “Sugar Labs”, a (soon to be established) non-profit foundation will serve as a support base and gathering place for the community of educators and software developers who want to extend the platform and create Sugar-compatible applications.
It is intended that the free software will be made available on other PCs, such as the popular Asus Eee.