20 May 2009

Nobody Buying Windows XO Laptops?

One of the most vexed questions at the moment is the state of the netbook market. What are the returns for GNU/Linux-based systems? And is it true that Windows XP is all-conquering here? Unfortunately, despite all this sound and fury, there are few data points to provide much guidance. So some news from the the OLPC community is particularly interesting.

As you may recall, one of Microsoft's bigger "victories" was getting OLPC to offer Windows XP versions alongside the original Sugar-based system, running on GNU/Linux:

It was almost exactly one year ago that Nicholas Negroponte announced an agreement between OLPC and Microsoft to bring Windows XP to the XO-1 to great turmoil. I vividly remember the late-night flood of e-mails and IRC chats where everyone was trying to figure out just what that announcement really meant.

Someone from the One Laptop Per Child News site has had the excellent idea of following things up:

I've been wondering about what ever happened to these Windows XP-based OLPC trials. I haven't really heard anything about them in quite some time. Now more recently I've asked around and found there is a good reason why I haven't seen anything: countries are choosing Sugar over Windows XP for their XO deployments.

Apparently the conversations are going pretty much as many of us had expected: Initially country representatives inquire if Windows XP runs on the XO laptop. That doesn't really come as a surprise - for many people Windows is the definition of a computer. However, upon further investigation every country decided to stick to Sugar.

So, is this evidence that XP is a damp squib in the OLPC world? And what implications does it have for netbooks?

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