Thursday, May 15, 2008

Windows XP to be used on OLPC's XO Laptop

The BBC and TechCrunch have both released news in the last few hours announcing that Windows XP will soon be available for the OLPC XO laptop. Michael Arrington at TechCrunch is speculating that Microsoft may have made a hefty donation to OLPC in order for this to happen. Meanwhile, Jonathan Fildes at the BBC is taking a more market-driven approach to the story. Fildes reports that some developing countries (the target market for OLPC) have insisted for a while now that OLPC make Windows an option. As always the true story probably lies somewhere in the middle.

Putting my personal bias against Windows aside, I think this is a good move for OLPC and for education in general. I've been able to put aside my ani-Window bias because the cost typically associated with Windows licensing seems to be removed for OLPC. The BBC reports that the cost of adding Windows XP will be approximately $10 bringing the total cost to roughly $198. While I would prefer to see more kids learning and adopting Linux, if making Windows an option for the OLPC XO laptop gets more computers in more kids' hands around the world then I'm all for it. Yes, it does create a potentially large group of students predisposed and trained to use Windows, but if that is what it takes to improve education in developing countries then I'm willing to put down my anti-Windows flag.