One Laptop Per Child redefines open source

Nicholas Negroponte, the MIT Media Lab director turned philanthropist turned businessman, has learned when not to be pedantic. For example, take his shifting stance on open source. He once believed that One Laptop Per Child, would have to run open-source software on its cheap machines for third-world schoolchildren. The charity once declined free copies of Mac OS X, because it was proprietary to Apple, and considered it a mark of honor that Microsoft was annoyed at being excluded from the laptop project. Now, according to Negroponte, "It would be hard for OLPC to say it was 'open' and then be closed to Microsoft. Open means open." Except, of course, when it doesn't.

"Microsoft has always been working on Windows for the XO," OLPC's specially-designed laptop, Negroponte added. We don't begrudge the good professor for abandoning his open-source doctrine and revising history — his charity has learned to run itself more like a business in order to survive. Microsoft just happens to have more money at its disposal than most of the nations Negroponte has failed to sell his diminutive computer to.