The news is out that OLPC and Microsoft have announced an agreement to “make a dual boot, Linux/Windows, version of the XO laptop”. Nicholas Negroponte’s announcement on community mailing lists (unfortunately HTML only but plain text on the wiki) states:
To enable the Sugar environment to reach as many children as possible, particularly in the poorest areas of the world, OLPC must be able to bid on educational technology contracts, some of which require that Microsoft Windows be able to run on our hardware. The increased volumes will lower the XO-1’s price, already lowest in the industry with capabilities no other laptop shares.
Engadget’s coverage ends with:
As for Sugar? You’ll still be able to get it, but we have a sinking feeling about its future.
Let’s address that right now.
The future of Sugar
First, some quotes from Negroponte’s announcement:
OLPC is substantially increasing its engineering resources and all software development continues entirely on GNU/Linux. We will continue to work to make Sugar on Linux the best possible platform for education and to invest in our expanding Linux deployments in Peru, Uruguay, Mexico and elsewhere.
No OLPC resources are going to porting Sugar to Microsoft Windows, although as a free software project, we encourage others to do so. The Sugar user interface is already available for Fedora, Debian and Ubuntu Linux distributions, greatly broadening Sugar’s reach to the millions of existing Linux systems. We continue to solicit help from the free software community in these efforts. Additionally, the Fedora, Debian and Ubuntu software environments run on the XO-1, adding support for tens of thousands of free software applications.
Sugar as an upstream project
OLPC wants to “enable the Sugar environment to reach as many children as possible” and part of that goal is to have Sugar running on as many platforms as possible. That requires some degree of decoupling from OLPC’s XO builds.
There is now a Sugar roadmap, inspired by GNOME’s release process. It is still aligned with OLPC’s needs for the XO build release process.
Here is the announcement of the Sugar Labs Foundation, Walter Bender’s approach to Sugar development as an upstream project.
Folks, Sugar isn’t going away. We already know that Sugar on Linux can use the innovative features of the XO-1 that XP cannot. Let’s show the world what we can do, standing on the shoulders of thousands of regular people.
(Disclaimer: I work for OLPC. The above opinions are mine.)