How will it change the world to give millions of children low-cost computers and open source software? The first real effect is to provoke a response from Microsoft.
Initially Wintel executives dismissed and ridiculed the OLPC project. But now Microsoft is employing the infamous embrace-and-destroy practice that it has always used to subdue competition.
People are already reporting that Microsoft now plans to give away crippled versions of their software for as little as $3 a copy. But take a look at the real deal. Professional edition can be had for a dollar. Most importantly, the program offers cheap used junk Wintel computers, with Microsoft paying half the cost. In order to place their software in the world’s hands, they intend to undercut the complete OLPC package cost by roughly half. Never mind that the crap boxes consume massive amounts of unavailable power, require massive wired infrastructure through the rainforests, are full of toxins, not hardened against sand and kid use, etc. And of course, the software is the same crap they foist on the rest of us.