Adding Windows to the mix does lend some perceived value to the project:
|"Windows support on the XO device means that our students and educators will now have access to more than computer-assisted learning experiences," said Andres Gonzalez Diaz, governor of Cundinamarca, Colombia. |
"They will also develop marketable technology skills, which can lead to jobs and opportunities for our youth of today and the work force of tomorrow."
One does wonder if these countries (e.g. Egypt) have looked at the larger picture before requiring Windows. To me, to have a generation who are able to be highly productive in an open source environment would put a developing nation far ahead of developed countries.
When you are playing catch up, you just follow the path trodden by those who picked that path to suit them best. Cutting your own path means you end up with a result which suits you best and leads you to being the leader in the field.
Linux proficiency opens the door to cost effective computer use across a country, saving money on every single seat. Industry, government and education alike benefit from this. In terms of social consequences, it teaches people to take control and that they can achieve great success without having to spend money on expensive services from big western-based businesses.
When they say that Windows opens job opportunities, they forget that so does open source proficiency. With a growth in the use of linux in a country spurred on by the OLPC programme, these disadvantaged children could quickly become the most sought after employees, bringing with them years of practical linux experience to the workplace.
|bringing with them years of practical linux experience to the workplace. |
I'm not sure simply using a Linux laptop is going to qualify anyone to be a Linux admin or anything, remember, these machines are packaged like an appliance so skills using Open Office and Firefox might be as much as many of them ever get.
I'm with BILL. ;)
Most corporations are using Windows and Office software. That's fairly standard these days. The HR department of the corporation I work for places specific requirements for familiarity with MS Office software in their job postings in administrative and general office positions.
Open source alternatives are great, but if you want to work in the corporate world it helps to have Windows and Office familiarity on the resume.
If you're heading toward an IT career then that's a different story all together. I don't think the $100 PC is really targeted at that market though.
Its not like any half intelligent person cannot learn on Linux or Open Office and then transfer those skills to Windows or Office if needed. Its not like these things are vastly different or rocket science.
I doubt there are any people in this world that can use OO and Linux but will totally fall down as soon as they see Windows and Office.
Unless of course, you want to teach the children how to do virus scans and defrag their drives, in that case they need Windows.
This is fantastic news. Vincevincevince and mikedee make a thoughtful, albeit slightly idealistic, point. I think we can usefully draw an analogy with language learning here.
One very useful language for a Colombian schoolchild to learn over the next few years as Latin America's economy rises might be Brazilian Portuguese.
Those Spanish-speaking Latin Americans who can additionally speak both Portuguese and English are going to be, by virtue of being able to operate all over their own continent and most of the one upstairs, be even more in demand than those who can just speak English.
But I doubt that anyone will be persuaded to learn Portuguese first and then English.
In the real world, the chances are you're going to want to learn English first before progressing to other languages - because it has the most immediate relevance in the world of work.
Same with Microsoft Office.
One Laptop Per Child - Don't you think that is slightly idealistic? This whole project is idealistic.
Typing a letter in Office and then in Open Office is NO different at all, its not like a different language at all. The only difference is the closed file format and the constantly changing UI of Office.
Children who left school here 5 years ago will not be able to use the new ribbon interface of Office 2007. They would have been better off being taught how to use a computer and word processor rather than being taught XP and Office 2000 which are now almost useless.
I don't have first hand experience of modern schooling with respect to computer skills, but it seems to me that far too much effort goes into teaching people how to do achieve specific tasks and not enough effort goes into teaching people how to figure things out for themselves.
If people learn to figure stuff out on their own, they will adapt quickly to whatever computer environment they find themselves using, but it people simply learn to complete a set of tasks they are likely to be lost if the software changes.
To this extent, both sides of this argument are correct - it really depends on how the children are taught. If they are simply taught how to complete set tasks then experience of Windows as well as Linux can only be good. However, I would hope that the children using these laptops will learn how to figure stuff out, in that case, the choice of operating system is largely irrelevant (provided both work equally well).
Ah, you've hit the nail on the head Kaled. Too often we are taught how to drive, but have no basic grasp of the mechanisms involved. It's the old " Give them a fish" VS "Teach them to fish"
The real issue is not Windows vs. Linux or which is more beneficial, each or both is a quantum leap.
Y'all are too optimistic imagining computers already in the hands of children freely exploring the possibilities, that's not how it works in 3rd world countries, the small percentage that survives getting resold will end up as trophies or worse, a carefully locked and guarded fixed asset in the hands of bureaucrats that care for nothing but their jobs.
Subsidy & donations are the easiest part of the equation (case & point Myanmar)
Delivery, education & culture change, combating bureaucracy & corruption is the uphill battle.
Rather than laptops, I think stylus-based tablets/e-books would be better for general teaching. They would be cheaper, more portable, and more suited to other subjects such as maths, languages, mechanics and basic science.
Whilst computers can be very useful, they can also waste huge quantities of time - not good in education. However, that's another discussion altogether.
|Y'all are too optimistic imagining computers already in the hands of children freely exploring the possibilities, that's not how it works in 3rd world countries, the small percentage that survives getting resold will end up as trophies or worse, a carefully locked and guarded fixed asset in the hands of bureaucrats that care for nothing but their jobs. |
I doubt this will be the case, these laptops are not exactly fashion statements, have you actually seen one? Nobody would hoard one in their private collection or give it to their rich child, they are for poor kids. The corrupt officials are probably more interested in cash or helicopters in return for ordering XP instead of Linux. That is the sad part of this story.
"... they say that Windows opens job opportunities..."
That is pretty accurate in my third world country.
Most ads published in local newspapers that offer jobs for mere mortals (secretaries, office assistants, etc) specify one important requirement: knowledge to operate Microsoft Office. I've never seen Open Office as a requirement.
I must mention that my country was connected to the NSFNET* in the early 90s, about 2-3 months after Malaysia was connected. While it belongs to the third world, my country isn't technologically deprived.
|"... they say that Windows opens job opportunities..." |
That is pretty accurate in my third world country.
The key word here is 'is'. When you talk education, you must talk not about what 'is' but what 'will be'. Don't teach children to fill the jobs of today - teach them to fill the jobs of tomorrow.
Don't forget that employers tailor their jobs to the employee market as much as the employee tailors his training to the employment market. Today, Microsoft Office is specified because that's about all they can expect to get. With a generation of users able to work with zero software licensing costs and greater interoperability, it's a foregone conclusion that employers would start specifying 'Word processing skills, preferably Open Office, Microsoft Office also considered'.
I wonder why Microsoft have integrated an end of life operating system for them. What kind of a security disaster is this going to be with no updates coming out? Whole education systems being at the mercy of teenagers. Does Microsoft seriously think that these governments are going to shell out for new hardware for running Vista and Microsoft Bloat 2007?
As for activation... when did you see a third option after online and telephone activation for "no phone line, no internet and my arm's aching from winding the battery so just let me use the machine".
"... employers would start specifying 'Word processing skills, preferably Open Office..."
Probably not until some key usability issues are fixed such as the lack of an equivalent open source replacement for Excel. Another big problem for the acceptance of Open Office among mere mortals is the popularity of PowerPoint in the business world. And MS Word? Don't dare to take it away from a secretary!
This security problem [ [webmasterworld.com...] ] would probably slow down the acceptance of Open Office.
|As for activation... when did you see a third option... |
Not an issue, activation can already operate automatically via hardware (usually the bios) e.g. if the OEM disc matches the bios you don't need to activate Windows manually.
The only thing interestign for MSFT is to make sure people don;t get used to anything better than windows. And for that they;re even ready to keep XP afloat.
Monopolist at work.
|This security problem [ [webmasterworld.com...] ] would probably slow down the acceptance of Open Office. |
Yeah - because the Windows security problems really slowed down acceptance of IE and Windows. Windows has made the average person on the street think that crashing and poor security are normal, maybe they will even think OO.o is now popular because it has a security problem.
Even Nicholas Negroponte has finally come to terms with the average person on the street!
"Whilst Professor Negroponte said this was not the intention, he could not rule out the possibility of XP becoming the sole offering in the future."
I'm really, really surprised by the attitude of the countries mentioned at [news.bbc.co.uk...]
These countries DIDN'T want the $100 laptop unless it came with Microsoft Windows XP. According to the article, the countries DEMANDED Windows XP before placing an order!
I bet you Nicholas Negroponte was pretty upset at this.
According to BBC, two of the countries that demanded Windows XP were Colombia and Egypt. I wonder which were the other countries.
Colombia was connected to the NSFNET on 04/94. Egypt was connected on 11/93. As a point of comparison, Finland (Linus Torvalds) was connected on 11/88 and Mexico (Miguel de Icaza) on 02/89. See [ccwhois.org...]
Consequently, Colombia and Egypt were kind of late to be connected to the Internet. Does this have some kind of effect on the level of acceptance for open source software?
It isn't countries as a whole that take decisions of this sort it is usually down to one or two individuals possibly taking advice from one or two others. The decision-makers are not necessarily very knowledgeable either.
That said, although I am no fan of Microsoft, I can see some merit in countries insisting on Windows, since a second operating system opens up a larger pool of software that can be run. When you consider the cost of a modern 4GB flash drive, it should be easily within reach. I would be interested to know whether MS have completely switched off virtual memory (since flash isn't ideal for this use). If they have, 256MB could run out very quickly.
I donated one last year and acquired one for myself during the G1G1 (Give 1, Get 1) campaign. It is a very unique piece of hardware, packed with some nifty technology. The display alone is amazing, viewable in full sunlight. I note from the article that "Crucially, however, it [Windows] does not currently support the mesh networking that allows the computers to talk to one another and share data." If you ask me, this is the single most valuable piece of technology built into the machine, and I concur with the statement made earlier:
|If you're heading toward an IT career then that's a different story all together. I don't think the $100 PC is really targeted at that market though. |
The target "market" is children. From what I see so far, it's all about collaborative learning using modern technology, kind of like social networking but with an educational priority; you see your friends nearby on the screen because their mesh network automatically connects and displays them and you can click on them and make them a friend. At this point you can begin sharing applications with one another. Yes, there happens to be a "write" program but it's no Open Office. Making music together, programming together, learning math together, ... the application possibilities are endless. One of the more inviting features for the educator is the journal. It tracks user activities. Hand in your laptop at the end of the day and you have handed in your daily work. They can be configured with a school "server" to streamline that activity too.
|Rather than laptops, I think stylus-based tablets/e-books would be better for general teaching. |
The machines were manufactured with this in mind. It is "stylus-ready", so to speak. Also, the screen can be rotated 180 degrees and closed back down like a tablet pc. There is even a button to rotate the visual interface 90 degrees with each depression.
Back to the target market concept though, I like what Walter Bender, founder of Sugar Labs, has to say:
"I left OLPC because I think the most important thing it is doing is defining a learning ecosystem."
He seems to be stating that we need to put the operating system and software debates aside and focus on a different priority. The child.