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This page has a more up-to-date location: MS FAQ, Support FAQ


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This page exists to answer questions about the agreement between OLPC and Microsoft announced 15 May 2008. Please sign your edits. Mchua

Articles about the agreement


OLPC Q&A


Questions here

  • Can G1G1 participants buy a version of XP? Are beta testers needed/welcome?
XP has recently been ported by Microsoft but it is not ready for shipping to anyone yet. Please see information from Microsoft for availability as OLPC will not be selling it or involved in beta trials (Kimquirk 12:39, 20 May 2008 (EDT)).
Microsoft's Unlimited Potential site: "we are offering software licenses for the Microsoft Student Innovation Suite at a special discounted rate exclusively for governments wishing to provide PCs to students, and subject to specific conditions." The Microsoft initiative is aimed at the educational market, not at G1G1 donors.
  • What changes, if any, will be made to the XO hardware specs in order to accommodate Windows?
Windows XP single boot is accomplished using a 2Gb Class 6 SD Card in the existing slot on the XO. (The current estimated cost for this additional card is $4 to $7, based on retail prices in the $8 range from reliable second-tier vendors.)
(To hold Windows XP without the additional SD card would require hardware modifications to increase the NAND flash from the current 1Gb to 2Gb.) --Gnu 13:23, 19 May 2008 (EDT)
  • Will multiple versions of the XO hardware be available simultaneously?
It is possible to increase the available flash on the XO without other hardware changes, so this is being investigated. It would be in our best interest to continue a lower cost option for countries, which would imply multiple hardware versions. (Kimquirk 12:39, 20 May 2008 (EDT))
  • How many machines are we talking about here when you say "increased volumes" that will "lower the XO-1's price"? Tens of thousands? Hundreds of thousands? Millions?
Hundreds of thousands to begin with, from countries like Egypt where the Ministry wants Windows so that they can claim they are preparing the children for the job market. Never mind that WinXP will be long gone when these children graduate.--Mokurai 04:21, 16 May 2008 (EDT)
  • Will you continue to sell XO laptops without Windows to those countries who (have the wisdom to) prefer it?
And so get a lower price for each XO?
Nicholas says yes. The price difference is about $10. --Mokurai 04:21, 16 May 2008 (EDT)
Nicholas says that OLPC will sell Linux-only and dual-boot, and will not sell Windows-only.--Mokurai 04:21, 16 May 2008 (EDT)
The only firmware technology that Microsoft had (/has today) was a proprietary Insyde BIOS that didn't work with OLPC's Linux kernel, so that's what they talked about. But OLPC has created new tech that supports both Windows and Linux. (Also, Linux kernels in general do support running under proprietary BIOSes. The difference in the XO's Linux kernel is that it relies on the firmware for the XO's special power management and anti-theft system.) --Gnu 13:23, 19 May 2008 (EDT)
  • Which countries will get XP on XO trials? I would expect Egypt, but who else? What languages? Has Sugar been localized for those languages?--Mokurai 04:48, 16 May 2008 (EDT)
  • What is the performance difference between booting Windows XP using a $10 2GB Class6 SD card and using a 2GB internal nand flash memory? --Charbax 13:41, 17 May 2008 (EDT)
Nobody knows, since nobody's built a 2GB internal nand flash version (that I know of), nor provided such hardware to MS. Note that the internal nand flash (JFFS2 file system) is managed very differently than SD cards, which support any filesystem but usually use FAT. It is possible that Windows doesn't know how to manage the bare flash chips yet. --Gnu 13:23, 19 May 2008 (EDT)
  • Does Microsoft accept to licence the $3 Windows XP for XO-1 laptops that are going to be delivered with the dual-boot option? --Charbax 13:41, 17 May 2008 (EDT)
  • Does Windows XP for the XO take into account the Bitfrost anti-theft and secure upgrade features? How about Wi-Fi mesh (802.11s) and the special keyboard shortcuts? --Charbax 13:41, 17 May 2008 (EDT)
Not yet, as far as I know. --Gnu 13:23, 19 May 2008 (EDT)
Microsoft engineers have been working on drivers to take advantage of the hardware features of the XO. Microsoft will have to answer questions on specific capabilities until the product is more widely available. OFW2 (the open firmware that supports dual boot) will continue to support Bitfrost anti-theft features. (Kimquirk 12:49, 20 May 2008 (EDT))
  • Is there anyone that is part of the Microsoft effort that is sufficiently engaged with the idea that there is an OLPC Community and not just an OLPC Foundation to join the wiki and maybe provide a little (non-proprietary) insight into some of these questions? They can post via anonymous IP if they choose. Cjl 13:12, 20 May 2008 (EDT)

Message from Nicholas to the community lists

One Laptop per Child is announcing an agreement with Microsoft to make a dual boot, Linux/Windows, version of the XO laptop. In addition, our intention is to engage one or more third parties to port Sugar to run on Windows in order to reach a wider installed base of laptops. In the meanwhile, OLPC remains fully committed to our goal: a completely free and open learning platform for the world's children. The mission statement of OLPC has not changed in three years (attached).

Sugar is the first user interface specifically designed for children and teachers to learn and collaborate, and remains central to our strategy. Broadening Sugar's reach to as many children as possible remains key to OLPC's mission.

To enable the Sugar environment to reach as many children as possible, particularly in the poorest areas of the world, OLPC must be able to bid on educational technology contracts, some of which require that Microsoft Windows be able to run on our hardware. The increased volumes will lower the XO-1's price, already lowest in the industry with capabilities no other laptop shares.

OLPC is substantially increasing its engineering resources and all software development continues entirely on GNU/Linux. We will continue to work to make Sugar on Linux the best possible platform for education and to invest in our expanding Linux deployments in Peru, Uruguay, Mexico and elsewhere.

No OLPC resources are going to porting Sugar to Microsoft Windows, although as a free software project, we encourage others to do so. The Sugar user interface is already available for Fedora, Debian and Ubuntu Linux distributions, greatly broadening Sugar's reach to the millions of existing Linux systems. We continue to solicit help from the free software community in these efforts. Additionally, the Fedora, Debian and Ubuntu software environments run on the XO-1, adding support for tens of thousands of free software applications.

Open Firmware V2, the free and open source BIOS, is now capable of running Linux, Microsoft Windows XP and other operating systems, and was developed by Firmworks with support from OLPC. This will enable dual boot of OLPC XO laptops with Microsoft Windows XP in addition to the existing Fedora-based system and will become the standard BIOS/bootloader for all XO systems when completed. With this "free BIOS," the XO-1 continues to be the most open laptop hardware currently available.

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