Saturday, May 17, 2008

OXPC? Thoughts on Windows XP on the OLPC

A bad fit? ...

"If you’ve been around Techmeme in the last few hours you probably read about the agreement between Microsoft and One Laptop Per Child about making Windows XP available on the project’s computers. I personally believe it to be a bad decision from both ends, even though I admire both OLPC and Microsoft. Here’s why:

The goal of the OLPC is to create a computer that lets kids explore and be creative by themselves or with their friends. It is definitely not a computer to run Notepad, or Office, or play Solitaire and Minesweeper. It is not a computer for those who’ve been using Windows, OSX or Linux for years. By this I’m not saying that the OLPC needs a dumbed-down experience. It does need, however, to be designed in a way that fits with the needs of someone for whom a computer is a strange and alien object.

On the Sugar UI: If you’ve ever seen a OLPC device, you’ve seen Sugar. Sugar is the user interface that the computers use, and it has been designed with kids in mind. Now, if you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know I am critical of Sugar because it is confusing and abuses icons at the expense of usability. It is what you get by having a top graphical design firm work on a computing experience. But despite all this, it is still an experience you can make better and evolve.

On Windows: Windows on the other hand, is a controlled, fixed experience. It’s not like you can just go and change the whole UI to fit OLPC and kids. Or you can, by running apps on top of the OS (just like HTC does with their mobile Touch interface on top of WM6), but that’s just wrong and and a lousy experience for the user.

On the Sugar UI: If you’ve ever seen a OLPC device, you’ve seen Sugar. Sugar is the user interface that the computers use, and it has been designed with kids in mind. Now, if you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know I am critical of Sugar because it is confusing and abuses icons at the expense of usability. It is what you get by having a top graphical design firm work on a computing experience. But despite all this, it is still an experience you can make better and evolve.

On Windows: Windows on the other hand, is a controlled, fixed experience. It’s not like you can just go and change the whole UI to fit OLPC and kids. Or you can, by running apps on top of the OS (just like HTC does with their mobile Touch interface on top of WM6), but that’s just wrong and and a lousy experience for the user."    (Continued via Webreakstuff)    [Usability Resources]

OLPC - Usability, User Interface Design

OLPC

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