A Certain Lack of Focus

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Like a Dirty Old Man, Microsoft Wants In

gatesApparently I'm not the only person who thinks the One Laptop Per Child thing is pretty damn cool. Matt pointed me to this article which he found on Slashdot today. It seems Microsoft can't tolerate the prospect of all these impressionable young children growing up without being touched by Windows.

OLPC is currently in the midst of it's "Buy One, Get One" campaign, where people in the US can buy a laptop and have another donated to a child that needs it. The computer, designed for kids, currently runs Linux, chosen for it's open source coding, and because it's free.

Microsoft is on a mission, a mission funded by what Will Poole (Microsoft Corporate Vice President) calls "a nontrivial amount of money[,]" whatever that means. They're working to make Windows work on the laptop, so that children around the world don't grow up on Linux (the horror, the horror). As the article's author, Jim Finkle points out, " The laptops were designed specifically to run Linux programs. If the machines run only Linux, Microsoft will lose an opportunity to expose tens of millions of children worldwide to its Windows system." We can't have that, can we? It sounds like Microsoft isn't even pretending their intentions are altruistic, and I guess you've at least gotta give them credit for that.

simcityMicrosoft isn't the only large corporation to show interest in the OLPC. EA recently donated the original game SimCity to the program, so that every computer will ship out bundled with the game. In this case the motives do seem to be purely selfless since it seems unlikely that kids in
Rwanda will be rushing to purchase Spore anytime soon. Some bloggers have been sarcastic about the donation, siting how old the game is, but I think it's a pretty cool gesture. True, they probably weren't making a lot of money off SimCity at this point, but they gave something out of the blue when they didn't have to, and a game on city planning will certainly be an asset to kids in developing countries. Besides, it seems unlikely that the computer could have handled a newer version of the game anyway, these aren't exactly supercomputers.

It's nice to see the project getting some corporate attention, selfish or not. I think this gives it a bit more legitimacy and probably helps other people take it seriously. I love the idea of the OLPC and anything that helps it succeed is certainly a good thing.OLPCPS: I doctored the first photo of this post tremendously. This is probably unethical, and possibly illegal, but since no one actually reads my blog I'm not too worried. Bill Gates, if you're reading this, I'd be happy to take down the photo at your request, but only if you leave a comment. The original photo was stolen from Wired's blog, and isn't nearly this creepy. The other pictures link to where I got them from.

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