OLPC ditches Linux and hops to Windows XP

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OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte has finally decided to move away from open source Linux to Windows XP (to a dual XP/Linux mode)

“..an insistence upon using only free, open source software had hampered the XO’s usability and scared away potential adopters.

For instance, the Sugar graphical user interface aimed at children “grew amorphously” and “didn’t have a software architect who did it in a crisp way,” he said. Also, the laptops do not support the latest versions of Flash animation, which is widely used on children’s and educational Web sites. ”

About 500,000 of the XO laptops have been sold, below previous targets of millions by the end of last year. Due to the lower-than-anticipated volume, the XOs have been sold for about $200 each, or double its ambitious initial price target of $100 each.[source]

This will surely disappoint all those open source crazy fans, but the reality is that open source has it’s own challenges and dependencies. Most importantly, when a consumer focused product needs support from several vendors in the marketplace, Linux may not be the best platform.

“One of the favorite arguments of the free software and open source community

for the obvious superiority of such software over proprietary alternatives is the user’s supposed ability to take control and modify inadequate software to suit their wishes. Expectedly, the argument has been often repeated in relation to OLPC.

At the end of the day, it just doesn’t matter to the educational mission what kernel is running Sugar. If Sugar itself remains open and free — which, thus far, has never been in question — all of the relevant functionality such as the ‘view source’ key remains operational, on Windows or not. OLPC should never take steps to willingly limit the audience for its learning software. Windows is the most widely used operating system in existence. A Windows-compatible Sugar would bring its rich learning vision to potentially tens or hundreds of millions of children all over the world whose parents already own a Windows computer, be it laptop or desktop. To suggest this is a bad course of action because it’s philosophically impure is downright evil.” – Ivan Krstic, ex-director of security architecture at One Laptop per Child (OLPC).”

I just hope OLPC cuts the noise successfully; and sticks to it’s core offering – i.e. providing laptops to kids @ $100.

And nothing else matters.

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