Print 21 comment(s) - last by JustTom.. on Apr 30 at 1:19 AM

OLPC's legacy could be the technology developed to make the XO Notebook possible, not the XO Notebook itself

Walter Bender was the president of software and content for the One Laptop Per Child Foundation (OLPC). One of his main tasks with the OLPC was to design the interface for the notebook called Sugar. Last week Bender resigned from his position with OLPC.

Xconomy says that the decision to leave was in part because of a split Bender had with founder Nicholas Negroponte over how the foundation should continue its role in the computing world. Bender told Xconomy that he disagreed with Negroponte’s move to de-emphasize projects like Sugar and become more closely associated with established firms in the software business like Microsoft.

Microsoft has previously stated that a version of Windows XP would be running on the XO notebook eventually. Bender says, “If you read between the lines, the idea is to stop trying to be disruptive and to start trying to make things comfortable for decision-makers. Personally, I think that…a role that a non-profit can play is to try to demonstrate better ways of doing things and let the market follow them. But that is a minority opinion [within OLPC], so I left to do my own thing.”

Xconomy says that the legacy of the OLPC may end up not being the XO Notebook itself, but rather the technologies that were developed in order to make the XO Laptop viable. Bender and his Sugar interface aren’t the only technology spin-offs that have come out of the OLPC.

Former CTO Mary Lou Jepsen left the OLPC to form her own company called Pixel Qi to build and market energy-saving screens and other technology originally developed for the OLPC XO Notebook. The technology that both Bender and Jepsen develop could eventually turn up in consumer devices and competing low cost notebooks like the Intel Classmate in the future.

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By Some1ne on 4/25/2008 3:43:08 PM , Rating: 1
Bender says, “If you read between the lines, the idea is to stop trying to be disruptive and to start trying to make things comfortable for decision-makers. Personally, I think that…a role that a non-profit can play is to try to demonstrate better ways of doing things and let the market follow them."

His logic is obviously broken. The goal of the project shouldn't be to try to push a bunch of usability experiments onto OLPC users, it should be to create a product that is useable and affordable for the vast majority of people, and if market demographics mean anything, then Windows XP is currently the most useable OS out there as far as the average computer user is concerned. Affordability might be an issue with XP, but then again maybe not if the OLPC project can cut some sort of deal with MS. After all, Asus is able to offer its XP-based EEE variants for only about $50 more than the Linux-based ones.

I think he's just upset that his pet project is on track towards getting replaced with Windows. Good riddance.

RE: Wrong.
By Justin Case on 4/25/2008 4:58:29 PM , Rating: 4
And you talk about broken logic?

According yours, China must be the best country in the world to live in, since more people live there than anywhere else.

And the XO isn't aimed at "average computer users" (by which you really seem to mean "someone who is already used to MS Windows), it's aimed at poor kids, most of whom have never seen a computer, let alone become used to MS Windows.

Microsoft definitely won't mind selling copies of Windows at a loss if that means they turn the kids into (your definition of) "average computer users" (meaning people who are unable or unwilling to even try a non-MS system).

The questions is whether that is in the best interest of the children, or of the societies they will grow up into.

But since some schools in supposedly civilized countries even have McDonald's serving school meals (and I use the word "meal" in a very ironic sense), I guess some societies have just given up on that whole evolution and progress thing. Maybe instead of teaching them to use and program computers we should just give them a big TV, a couch, and stuff some fat and sugar down their throats, because that's most people's idea of a fulfilling life in the "civilized world".

RE: Wrong.
By Some1ne on 4/25/2008 5:54:03 PM , Rating: 2
And you talk about broken logic?

According yours, China must be the best country in the world to live in, since more people live there than anywhere else.

Your analogy is faulty. People do not get to choose where they are born, and many lack the means to even choose where they will live. Operating systems, however, are always chosen, both by the OEM's who build and sell computer systems, and by the consumers who ultimately purchase those systems.

So my logic is stating that XP is the more usable OS for the average person not simply because more people use it, but because more people choose to use it, when they could have just as easily chosen an alternative.

RE: Wrong.
By Justin Case on 4/25/2008 10:03:43 PM , Rating: 2
My analogy was meant to be faulty; that was kind of the point.

You think people get to pick the OS they use? When you go to work (you know, in the real world, not your parents' basement), do you think you get to pick the OS that is going to be running on your computer?

And when you go buy a computer, do you get to pick what OS it comes with?

Try spending a day in the real world, sometime.

RE: Wrong.
By TomZ on 4/26/2008 8:59:43 AM , Rating: 1
I'm not sure what planet you're living on, but I've made the choice of OS on every computer I've built and bought through the years.

My old laptop came with Win2K, and I put XP on it. My new laptop came with a low-end Vista, and I put Vista Ultimate on it. Computers and servers that I've built through the years have had whatever OS was newest at the time.

If you buy a new computer from Dell, HP, etc. today, you can choose to have Vista, XP, or in some cases no OS loaded. And in any case, you always have the choice to remove whatever came with it and load anything of your choice.

How is there no choice...?

You're so blinded by your desire to be a forum bully that you totally ignore the reality.

RE: Wrong.
By Zirconium on 4/26/2008 9:32:55 AM , Rating: 2
The average user does not choose the OS. TomZ, we are all very happy that you are able to install a new OS on your machine. But the average user is daunted by this task; whether or not he/she is able to perform it. Plus, most people keep all the programs that are installed when they get the computer. Why do you think antivirus companies pay Dell et. al. to have their software pre-loaded on the machine? Because most people just stick with what their computer comes with. So this counters the OP's point about XP being the most usable since most people use it. I think you are being the "forum bully" and "ignoring reality" in this case.

RE: Wrong.
By TomZ on 4/26/2008 10:42:52 AM , Rating: 2
Being able to load your own OS isn't the only way to have choice.

For example, for consumers, most new Dell systems are available pre-loaded with Vista and XP. A smaller set of machines are also available with Linux (Novell, Red Hat, Ubuntu): If you prefer OS-X, then you can obviously purchase a Mac.

Looking at the business side, most corporate IT departments image/load their own PCs, so obviously that gives them the choice to load whatever OS they prefer.

So I fail to see how there is a lack of choice out there for the average buyer.

RE: Wrong.
By Zirconium on 4/26/2008 2:47:09 PM , Rating: 2
Now you are just arguing for the sake of arguing even though you know you are wrong and you are spinning things off in a crazy tangent that I will get as little involved in as possible.

The point of the matter is that most PCs come with Windows by default and that is why it is unfair to make the claim that Windows XP has the best UI due to marketshare. Yes, you *can* buy a PC with Linux. But how long have big name companies been doing this? About a year, if I recall correctly. And the systems aren't the ones that are prominently listed in the advertisements. Wait, I take that back, you are going to find one advertisement, and try to say that the exception is the rule.

Get over it. If you are a typical consumer, and you are buying a PC, you see two options. There are the Macs, but you see them as being more expensive and not compatible with software you may already own (don't even try to bring up boot camp when talking about the AVERAGE CONSUMER ). And the dominant option is Windows. Just go to Best Buy or Staples or whatever large chain that sells computers and tell me what most computers come pre-installed with (Joe's House of Linux is not a major retailer).

And don't even get me started on the politics of trying to get a corporation to use Linux.

RE: Wrong.
By TomZ on 4/27/2008 12:47:39 AM , Rating: 2
Well, the reason that most people buy PC's with Windows, and that most PC's come with Windows, is that most people want to buy PC's with Windows. The market is very efficient in supplying exactly what people want to buy. I don't see what is so hard to understand about that.

RE: Wrong.
By JustTom on 4/26/2008 10:41:36 AM , Rating: 1
My analogy was meant to be faulty; that was kind of the point.

Deliberately picking a faulty analogy to make a point is a new one on me. If there is no reasonable correspondence between your analogy and the original statement how can you make any inferences on the original statement?

Whether XP is chosen freely by a majority of people is a red herring anyhow. The fact is the greatest utility would be achieved in teaching children in the use of an OS that has use outside the classroom. And Sugar, no matter how gee whiz neat it might be, has no use outside the narrow realm of the OLPC program.

RE: Wrong.
By Nik00117 on 4/25/2008 4:59:06 PM , Rating: 2
Your forgetting the target audience have never used a computer. No need to go with standards then such as XP.

RE: Wrong.
By JustTom on 4/26/2008 10:43:29 AM , Rating: 2
Your forgetting the target audience have never used a computer. No need to go with standards then such as XP.

Except perhaps when they enter university or the workforce and are completely baffled by a new OS shell.

RE: Wrong.
By larson0699 on 4/28/2008 12:42:56 PM , Rating: 2
That's a while off. And whose worry is that, anyway?

To deviate from established standards^W^W monopolies isn't risky enough (as far as your concern of 'I-expect-a-menu-here' goes) to outweigh the practicality of any formidable alternative. If on style alone, GNOME is a good example of one effortless desktop experience that isn't Windows.

(In theory) I would never sway my children from learning many unique approaches to the same point, be it a computer or anything. They may not grow into 89% geek like I did, but they sure as day wouldn't go on believing that Windows is computers as a lot of us just kind of "understood".

I have nothing against Microsoft; chopped 75% off of XP and use it everyday happily. But I do like people to know of their choices.

I believe that at present there isn't a better free OS for this thing than Ubuntu (though Debian/SYSV wouldn't be my personal choice for legacy hardware) but if it ever ripens, ReactOS would be the killer app.

RE: Wrong.
By JustTom on 4/30/2008 1:19:46 AM , Rating: 2
Actually I don't disagree with you, I think XP would be an awful choice as an OS for this audience. However, valid arguments can certainly be made otherwise. Sugar is hardly the end all and be all of OS shells.

RE: Wrong.
By InternetGeek on 4/25/2008 5:25:56 PM , Rating: 1
Oh wait, so by your two accounts the XO/OLPC should not try to:

- Let people organize in groups and try to come up with ideas on how to better their towns
- Share knowledge on how to run their farms or whatever
- Allow kids to network with kids from other towns and countries and learn stuff they can use

but rather:

- Learn their Linux distro quite well

hmmm, I kind of see why Negroponte is kicking some people out. You know, like people who forget that the objective is to get these people into the modern economy so they can look after themselves but want only to get bigger figures for open source acceptance by turning all these kids into programmers.

Guys, really, get some brains. The small group of these kids who will pursue an IT career will have the knowledge to make up their minds on what use. Instead of wasting time and teaching them how to configure ther 'nix box they should be learning how to improve their surroundings and situations.

At least that beats them learning how to forge an US Social Security number and jumping some fences and walls... You get the point now?

RE: Wrong.
By Justin Case on 4/25/2008 10:18:36 PM , Rating: 2
What makes you think they need to "configure" anything? Have you ever used (or even looked at) an XO laptop?

The system is designed to be used by kids with zero experience with computers. Put someone with absolutely no experience in front of a Windows box and watch what happens (hint: not much; they'll probably hose the system before they manage to do anything productive). Give an XO to a group of kids and you'll be amazed.

This isn't a "PC", it's an educational toy. It's a lot more like Lego than like a regular laptop.

"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser
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