One Laptop Per Child will ship a special version of Windows on their low cost laptops for poor children, the two companies announced this afternoon. Previously the laptops, which to date have been tested in a number of countries, ran only Linux. Trials of the Windows version of the machines will begin in June in “key emerging markets.” OLPC is also working with third parties to port its user interface, called Sugar, to Windows, and is hoping to have a machine with dual boot options to allow “users” to choose between operating systems.
There are no financial terms being disclosed, although it wouldn’t be dumb to assume that not only is the software being supplied for free, but Microsoft made a healthy donation to the organization as well. The last thing Microsoft wants is for anyone who’s computer literate to think that a world without Microsoft Windows is possible.
On the upside, though, the pain of having to deal with Windows crashes may make some of these kids excellent technical support people over time. They’d just get lazy with Linux being so stable all the time.
If it isn’t obvious from what I’ve written above, I’m not impressed. OLPC is in danger of becoming a celebrity cause rather than a real attempt to bridge the digital divide. My guess is Linux worked just fine as an operating system for these machines.
Next up: Google Tools and AOL Dial Up service pre-installed on OLPCs?