Research about OLPC
Many people in this list do not seem to have checked the OLPC website. ( http://www.laptop.org ) Click on the big "1" and see what they have to say for themselves.
Let me make this easy. Here is where OLPC answers several myths, including the one about Microsoft Windows:
What The Register reported is that Microsoft is working with Quanta to make a cheap computer. Quanta makes hardware for OLPC. Quanta is the worlds biggest computer manufacturer; they make computers for many companies. All OLPC did was tell The Register about it.
Microsoft is not going to ship on the same computers. Have you looked up the requirements for the $3 Windows? ( http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/newsroom/winxp/WinXPStarterFS.mspx ) It needs 1.5GB of hard disk space and a CD drive, minimum. The OLPC laptop will have neither. OLPC requires "no rotating media", so that the computer will be harder to break, and the battery will last longer. ( http://www.laptop.org/en/laptop/hardware/specs.shtml )
What will children learn with an OLPC computer? They will learn to talk to each other across a network. They will learn to find information on the internet. They will, as children naturally do, learn from each other. Children in different villages will work together on projects without ever meeting face to face. And because they may have their laptops outside of the classroom, they may be able to learn things that interest them on their own time.
Some teachers may use online lesson plans to teach children math. Or geography. Or how to dig a well. Or clean up sewage so that cholera can be avoided. Or build a community center. Or ask for help after a disaster. All of these are available to everyone right now with an internet connection.
That is what OLPC will bring to the people of 3rd world countries.
As Mr. Negroponte keeps saying, this isn't about handing out computers. It is about education. And improving lives.