Linux helped the One Laptop Per Child project get thousands of low-cost computers into the hands of children in developing countries around the world, but now the OLPC's founder says certain pressures may force future machines to carry Windows XP instead.
Nicholas Negroponte, who has never been afraid to announce his irritation with anyone or anything, is currently apparently irritated with the Sugar GUI developed for the OLPC laptops, the lack of support for Flash, and open source "fundamentalists." This Computerworld piece says Negroponte wants to address incompatibility and other performance issues in the OLPC laptops "without worrying about the fundamentalism in some of the open-source community."
The OLPC project is changing shape on most fronts. It lost its CTO at the beginning of the year, and President Walter Bender just resigned, as well.
So what might this mean for Microsoft? Probably not a whole lot. OLPC already was working on a dual Linux/Windows version, and the XP version is just a rumor, at this point. Though if Microsoft wants to claim this project as one of its own, it might work a bit harder on an appropriate stripped-down version that won't continue to make the "low-cost" laptops more and more expensive. I do think that the only way the OLPC project will stay alive more than a year or two more is to make the move to Windows and the improved application interoperability that competing products such as the Intel Classmate offer. Without doing so, it'll never make it in its target markets of developing countries' educational systems or any other market, for that matter.