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Hundred-dollar laptop, revisited: The next-generation version of the One Laptop per Child machine will dispense with keypads. It can be folded flat to make one larger screen (left); here, two children could play a game, each using the touch-screen capability. Or it can be held on its side and used as an electronic book (right).

The extra cost of $10 for the Windows version is not trivial, he says: “If I have 10 dollars, I will decide what to do with it.” Right now, Becerra is scrambling to find funds to buy thousands of small solar-powered rechargers–at $20 each–for machines that he is deploying to villages that lack electricity.

Some open-source software advocates see an additional high cost of adding Windows. Richard Stallman, a pioneer of the GNU operating system and founder of the Free Software Foundation, says that he is now motivated to try to ignite grassroots opposition. “It’s an issue of freedom versus power,” he said in a telephone interview from Taiwan. “Proprietary software is under the power of its developer, and it puts the user under the power of the developer. This is like handing out samples of an addictive drug–not something that schools ought to do.”

But executives of OLPC and other observers defend the action, noting that since the OLPC educational software platform, known as Sugar, will now run on Windows, the move will promote OLPC’s mission far more widely. “The open-source community continues writing software for the Sugar interface,” Charles Kane, OLPC’s new president, said yesterday. “There is a community in the Linux world that continues to contribute to the ongoing success of this.” But, he added, with the existing XOs, “we’re trying to make a transition in a form that makes us successful in the marketplace.”

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Credits: One Laptop per Child

Tagged: Computing, MIT, touch-screen, computers, Windows, OLPC, electronic book, Nicholas Negroponte, XO

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