Sunday, December 09, 2007

Can Windows XP fit on the OLPC Laptop?

It would be like a fat lady trying to fit into a dress that's two sizes too small. Yet the increasing popularity of inexpensive low-end laptops and internet devices (with small resources) seems to be making a fat lady out of Microsoft, as Linux moves with ease into this market, and Microsoft tries to follow.


Linux is about to take over the low end of PCs

[...] Four trends: user-friendly Linux desktops, useful under-$500 laptops and desktops, near-universal broadband, and business-ready Internet office applications. Put them together and you have a revolution.

For the last two decades, we've been buying expensive desktop operating systems on business PCs running from $1,000 to $2,000. On those systems, we've been putting pricey desktop-centric office suites like Microsoft Office. That's a lot of money, and the convergence of the above trends is about to knock it for a loop.


Linux desktops run just dandy on low-end, under-$500 PCs. Vista Basic, which comes the closest to being able to run on these systems, is unacceptable since it doesn't support business networking. Office 2007 also won't run worth a darn on these systems. And somehow, I can't see Microsoft optimizing its applications to work with Google Apps instead of Exchange and SharePoint.

Put it all together, and here's what I see happening. In the next few quarters, low-end Linux-based PCs are going to quickly take over the bottom rung of computing. Then, as businesses continue to get comfortable with SAAS (software as a service) and open-source software, the price benefits will start leading them toward switching to the new Linux/SAAS office model.

You'll see this really kick into gear once Vista Service Pack 1 appears and business customers start seriously looking at what it will cost to migrate to Vista. That Tiffany-level price tag will make all but the most Microsoft-centric businesses start considering the Linux/SAAS alternative. [...]

I read in another article that MS is trying desperately to get WinXP to work on the OLPC XO laptop. But they can't, unless the units have double the memory they have now. As a result, they are trying to get the OLPC Project to build in and extra port to add up to double the memory the device currently uses.

Microsoft has wanted to dump XP and promote Vista instead. But now it finds it wants to compete in the low-end market with Linux, and Vista can't go there. It would seem that XP is going to be sticking around for a while, in some form or another, although it may have to go on a crash diet.

But will XP even be good enough (or small enough) to compete effectively with Linux in this arena? Here are some more articles that look at that, links about XP on the OLPC's XO:

A Good Thing About Windows XP on XO: Contrast

No Microsoft Windows XP on OLPC XO

Put GPL Code Windows XP on XO

I think that if MS does somehow manage to SQUEEZE WinXP onto the XO, Linux is still going to look like the better alternative. It will require more memory, which will drive up costs, and it may not be as fast as a Linux alternative on the same hardware. Linux also does not have licensing fees. It will be interesting to see what happens.

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