XP on OLPC - a contrarian view

Walter Bender walter.bender at gmail.com
Fri May 16 15:40:32 EDT 2008

There is an underlying assertion in your post (and much of the press
coverage of the Windows XP announcement) that the XO has not been
selling well to date. I would assert that 600K units in the first 6
months is pretty good by most measures. It is a far cry from the 100M
units that Nicholas predicted, but so what? It is a great start and
there is every indication that laptop-for-learning programs on a
variety of hardware platforms are springing up around the world--with
or without Windows. To the extent that the community can work to make
these programs successful, more children will be reached--our
goal--and more laptops (XOs and others) will be sold.


On Fri, May 16, 2008 at 12:27 PM, Robert Myers <rmyers7 at mindspring.com> wrote:
> There's a lot of discussion about whether OLPC is an education project,
> or a laptop project. Many folks here think that recent developments show
> that the balance is tipped to the latter rather than the former.
> It's neither. It's a _sales_ project. If people don't buy them, it
> doesn't matter how pure our hearts are.
> The folks that are buying them, Ministries of Education, governments,
> charities all have their own agendas. They do not necessarily line up
> with the agendas of our real customers - children and educators, or our
> own. If we have to give them some of what they want, so that we can get
> some of what we want to to the children, it's a fact of life.
> Selling constructionism is hard. The theory is attractive, but the data
> is _not_ compelling. The buyers are probably not convinced going in that
> it's something they want or need. OLPC would probably have an easier
> time selling $100 Apple ][ clones with drill and practice software than
> the XO as it stands. If the buyers demand a machine that can run
> Windows, tell them that the XO can run Windows.
> Look at the reaction of the general press to the announcement. It's
> overwhelmingly favorable. To outsiders this looks like the feature that
> can put the XO over.
> So put XP on as a dual boot. It won't fit in the flash, so buyers for
> the foreseeable future will still get Linux, Sugar, and all the OLPC
> activities. The Windows guys are talking about a 2G SD card to put XP on
> for that $7 hardware point. That won't fly. I had an Win98 machine with
> specs similar to an XO. It had a 8Gb drive.
> The buyer gets to tick Windows off his must have list. OLPC sells a
> machine with XP on a card, a crippled and storage limited XP that still
> doesn't run current first world productivity applications well. XOs get
> out, still loaded with Sugar. Children get them. OLPC gets revenue that
> can help its educational mission. What have we lost but some innocence?
> That being said, I believe Bill G is a prime example of 'Daniel
> Plainview' capitalism -- it's not enough for him to win, everyone else
> has to lose. So OLPC has to be careful.
> Bob
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