Here's some repulsive news from Microsoft, in an article on Yahoo! News titled, "Microsoft pledges cash for IT in developing world" but which I would more accurately, I think, call, "Microsoft Finds New Way To Be Anticompetitive":
Microsoft will spend $235.5 million in schools worldwide over the next five years, part of a plan to triple the number of students and teachers trained in its software programs to up to 270 million by 2013....
The company's educational funding comes with a hitch: "Of course, that includes the fact they [the schools] use Windows," Ayala said....
Microsoft is still working through some of the "technical limitations" that remain in putting XP on the XO, the green PC from the One Laptop Per Child project, Ayala said.
So, to compete with Microsoft, Linux needs to be able to spend 235 million to buy a market? There are also some interesting details on deals being made in Russia, Mexico and Libya:
Microsoft has recently made significant deals in developing areas. A nongovernmental organization in Russia is buying 1 million units of the Student Innovation Suite over the next five years, Ayala said. The company is also supplying 50,000 units of the same software to Mexico and 150,000 to Libya, he said.
Of course, they can't put that honking Vista on these laptops. So, it's XP forever, I guess, for the third world. Indeed the article says XP will be the supported platform on low-cost PCs such as the Classmate and Asus EEE, this despite the fact that Windows XP will stop being available to OEMs in June 2008 according to what I've seen announced. I hope those governments have figured out a plan on how they will upgrade someday. Hahahaha. Their only hope is if Microsoft can pick OLPC's brains fast and then figure out how to get a smaller footprint.
[ Update: It's not just in the third world. A reader just sent me this link, about Microsoft offering Finland free Live.edu software for all Finnish schools, and the software enables "community features such as a discussion forum students can use to discuss with each other". Sort of like what XO meshing enables? More, if you can read Finnish.]
So, bottom line? I read it as meaning that Microsoft would like to join Intel in killing off One Laptop Per Child's XO laptop, because it runs Linux on AMD, and because OLPC identified a new market in the third world, and monopolies are like the grave -- they never say, "Enough".
Please remember this day, next time someone tells you how philanthropic Mr. Gates is. Monopolies these days not only crush competition, they're willing to crush a charity to make a buck. I would say any apparent cooperation with OLPC, therefore, is just for show, folks. Those "technical" difficulties won't be solved, I figure, until this new market is glutted with Microsoft on Intel Classmates and Asus EEE's, loaded with XP, that old-fashioned operating system, and none of their laptops can do for those children what the OLPC XO can do. P.S. Children don't need training to use an OLPC XO. It's designed to *not* need it. I hope OLPC patented everything before they show Microsoft a thing. For real. Otherwise, someday we'll be looking for prior art to overturn a Microsoft patent or two.
Yoohoo, EU Commission! Are you watching these maneuvers?
Update 2: A Groklaw member provides a translation of some of the press release about Finland:
The gift received from Microsoft by prime minister Vanhanen is bad news for the
Finnish software industry. With this media exercise Microdoft tries to
strengthen its dominant market position and tries also to affect development of
software business in Finland....
Microsoft will offer its operating systems and server software
including the same software provided before by independent software companies.
With software and services looking free users are actually tied more tightly
technologies working only with Microsoft products and in this way competetitors
are swept away.