CNET News’ Ina Fried reports on her exclusive, first-hand look at what it means to have Windows, rather than Linux, on the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative’s signature device. On the outside, she writes, the Windows version of the XO laptop looks just like the Linux model. But simply booting up the device shows that the Windows version bears little resemblance to the original OLPC device. With the Microsoft version, you get Windows, for all the good and bad that entails. It’s full-on Windows–XP Professional, in fact–and can run basically any software that can adjust itself to the mini-laptop’s diminutive screen and modest processor. Microsoft has managed to slim down the OS enough to boot up off a 2 GB flash memory card and has written drivers for a number of the XO laptop’s unique features, such as its scratch pad, game controller, and built-in camera. But what’s missing in the Windows version is the personality that oozes out of the Linux incarnation. The Linux model comes with an integrated suite of educational games, programming tools, and other software, all built around a kid-friendly OS shell known as Sugar. The Windows version of the XO doesn’t have much of that built-in spunk, although a child-oriented programming tool known as Scratch did survive the Linux-to-Windows switch…

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