April 28, 2007

OLPC: Fading or stronger than ever?

Author: JT Smith

Recent events -- $3 Windows for the developing world, competition from Intel, and a $175 pricetag for OLPC's $100 laptop -- have some reporters and analysts suggesting the project may be in trouble. But are those dire forecasts credible or are they simply wishful thinking by the Wintel faithful?

Walter Bender, who writes the weekly OLPC community newsletter, took a contrary view to the doom-and-gloom meme and told us by email:

I would say that the meme of one laptop per child is stronger than
ever. The fact that Intel has decided to "compete" with the XO is an
example of how industry is moving towards our mission. That Microsoft
has lowered the cost of Windows in response to OLPC means there is
more choice and opportunity for children.* The fact that we can build
such an extraordinary machine for only $175 is a miracle and the price
will only go down over time, which is completely consistent with what
we have been saying all along. I know the press loves to put a
negative spin on things, but I think all of these are positive events
for the mission of one laptop per child.

* Please note that even though Microsoft has stated that they are
porting Windows to the XO, OLPC has no intention of abandoning Linux
and the principles of FOSS. One corollary of being open is that
anyone, including proprietary software manufacturers, are free to
develop for our platform.

So don't give up on OLPC just yet. It may still prove beneficial to millions of children around the globe in spite of the negative attention it has drawn by some in the press.

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