Windows key to OLPC philosophy

While the news that Microsoft is developing a version of Windows for the so-called "$100 laptop" has caused some consternation, One Laptop Per Child Chairman Nicholas Negroponte has said the project could not promote openness if it blocked Windows. Will Poole, Microsoft corporate vice president, told Reuters last week that the software giant is working […]

While the news that Microsoft is developing a version of Windows for the so-called "$100 laptop" has caused some consternation, One Laptop Per Child Chairman Nicholas Negroponte has said the project could not promote openness if it blocked Windows.

Will Poole, Microsoft corporate vice president, told Reuters last week that the software giant is working on a stripped-down version of Windows XP to run on the ruggedized laptops destined for schoolchildren in developing countries. Poole was initially quoted as saying it could be ready in a few months, though Microsoft said that Poole was misquoted and that while the company is hopeful to get Windows onto the machine, much work remains.

The educational XO laptop has been built using free and open-source software--part of the One Laptop Per Child project's drive to allow XO's young users to modify the laptop's software as they see fit.

The OLPC's philosophy of openness is behind its decision to allow Microsoft software on the machines, according to Negroponte.

"It would be hard for OLPC to say it was 'open' and then be closed to Microsoft. Open means open," Negroponte said.

According to Negroponte, the XP announcement is the latest development in a long-running collaboration between the project and Microsoft.

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"Microsoft has always been working on Windows for the XO. We put the SD (secure digital) slot into our laptop over one year ago, for them," Negroponte said, explaining that the SD slot allows the XO's memory to be expanded, making it easier for users to run Windows.

Windows on XO "has not only been happening with our consent, but (also our) collaboration. Some of the first engineering models from any given build go to them," Negroponte said.

OLPC, Windows, Laptop, Notebook, Microsoft