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Microsoft denies dual-boot Linux/Windows XO laptops are on its agenda

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OLPC

It looks like the head of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Chief Nicholas Negroponte is not only alienating Intel, but Microsoft, too.

A day after published reports quoting Negroponte as saying OLPC XO laptops would dual boot Linux and Windows, Microsoft is denying that the company is pursuing such a plan.

This wasn’t the first time that Negroponte took it upon himself to preannounce Microsoft’s OLPC plans. Late last year, following statements by Negroponte regarding Microsoft and its OLPC strategy, Microsoft officials issued a statement to counteract Negroponte’s “rhetoric” about Microsoft’ OLPC status and plans.

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For reference: Latest reasons to 'bury head in the sand'

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"Yes, we’ve been meeting with Microsoft about their XP port. OLPC has not dedicated resources to this work. We are not contributing engineering time to it, considering it as part of our strategy, or getting ready to replace Sugar. The extent of our involvement is having several meetings with the Microsoft staff and allowing a Microsoft-paid technical writer to work from our offices in order to produce specifications that will aid the port — on the condition that the specifications are also released publicly (they’re being posted to our wiki.)

The meetings are important. Microsoft decided to do a port, and they would have done it with us or without us — but they did something remarkable: they asked us to work with them so we don’t wind up with walled gardens. They did not set out merely to make XP boot on the XO and declare victory; they actually want to partake in as much of our learning philosophy as they can. They won’t make XP open source, but they’re building mesh support, going to great lengths to support our security and theft deterrence model, and working on allowing Sugar and Windows XOs to collaborate and share seamlessly.

The folks running this work on the Microsoft side are good people. They have left no doubt in my mind that they believe in what we’re doing and want to play along. I am also confident we have made the right decision at OLPC by embracing their work instead of stonewalling it.

To set the dual-boot issue straight: Microsoft has not been working on an actual, side-by-side dual-boot system. We’re jointly making it possible to install XP on an arbitrary XO — subject to the constraints of the Bitfrost theft deterrence system — and then convert the machine back to Linux easily. I have made it clear that the XP port will not receive my security signoff without this Linux rollback feature, and have no reason to believe it won’t be implemented.

One commonly-forgotten truth about OLPC is that our commitment to open source and free software isn’t religious, but pragmatic — we believe Linux and Sugar constitute a better software platform and, much more importantly, a better learning platform. Our existing customers agree, and we think new ones will continue to make the right decision while being reassured by the availability of Windows as a fall-back. "

Also:

"A team of Microsoft people flew out to Cambridge, Mass. to meet with engineers from the OLPC Foundation yesterday....I have to say I like these guys. They all seem like smart platform people, which is the type of people I seem to have worked with off and on for about 20 years now. In fact, it turns out that the OLPC's CFO, Chuck Kane, worked with me at Stratus Computer back around 1990.

We had a good discussion and left the meeting feeling positive about the day. We still have a lot of work to do before we make a final decision around our plans for the XO, but all in all it was a good day."

For those who wonder, it's ALL VAPORWARE. It's just like that lawsuit in Nigeria.

Should some people feel shy to write articles which say that "Microsoft doesn't matter"?

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Photo credit: Nick Hopkins

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