Industry News Desk
Intel & OLPC Split-City
Intel quit the One Laptop Per Child board last week rather than get thrown off for badmouthing AMD
By: Maureen O'Gara
Jan. 12, 2008 12:30 PM
In interviews, OLPC president Walter Bender basically called Intel an "underhanded" backstabbing liar.
The pair was supposed to work on a processor and software together, but allegedly never did.
OLPC also claims that Intel "violated its written agreement with OLPC on numerous occasions" and "continued to disparage the XO laptop in nations that had already decided to partner with OLPC (Uruguay and Peru), with countries that were in the midst of choosing a laptop solution (Brazil and Nigeria), and other countries contemplating a laptop program (Mongolia)."
Apparently the last straw was when an Intel saleswoman reportedly tried to get Peru, OLPC's first real customer, to open its 270,000-unit XO order to competitive bid.
OLPC fails to mention that when Intel quit it was up $6 million complements of an Intel donation. It would have been up $12 million cash if it had waited another week or two.
Intel and OLPC were supposed to unveil an Intel-based version of the XO this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Intel says it had a working prototype; OLTP says it would have been "more expensive and consume more power - exactly the opposite direction of OLPC's stated mandate and vision."
Whatever it was Intel canned it.
Microsoft is also working to replace XO's Linux operating system with Windows XP. It's already admitted it's hard without a hard drive and conventional memory. XO's tiny x86-compatible LX embedded chip may add that much more aggravation and it may have preferred the abandoned Intel box.
Not having Windows has reportedly been a hurdle for the XO and Negroponte told ComputerWorld the other day that Microsoft and OLPC are developing a dual-boot Windows/Linux scheme that would save OLPC from having two products but could require additional processing power, storage and memory.
However, Microsoft denied the ComputerWorld story to anyone who asked saying, "While we have investigated the possibility in the past, Microsoft is not developing dual-boot Windows XP support for One Laptop Per Child's XO laptop. As we announced in December, Microsoft plans to publish formal design guidelines early this year that will assist flash-based device manufacturers in designing machines that enable a high-quality Windows experience. Our current goal is to provide a high-quality Windows experience on the XO device."
It recommended contacting the company directly for any further updates.
Last month it had to modify Negroponte's statements that the XP port was finished and running gloriously on the XO to "it might not work and here's why."
Negroponte this week also denied to Business Week that he ever asked Intel to kill the Classmate after telling the Wall Street Journal in November that that's what he wanted, which is what he told Fortune and the BBC this week.
Anyway, apparently there are going to be limited field trials of XP on XO this month.
Meanwhile, OLPC has lost its CTO, its first employee, Mary Lou Jepsen, reportedly responsible for the XO's novel display and power management, to a new for-profit venture called Pixel Qi that she's started to commercialize the OLPC screen widgetry.
And Lancor, that Nigerian-owned company that's suing OLPC for infringing its keyboard patent, is asking $20 million in damages. So far, it's managed to get an injunction preventing XOs from being distributed in Nigeria.
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