Programmer Richard Stallman's 25-year crusade to banish proprietary software from planet Earth hasn't had many victories. Most recently, One Laptop Per Child stabbed RMS in the face by replacing its Stallman-approved freeware with a Windows operating system. OLPC head Nicholas Negroponte, who originally backed a free-software configuration, believes it's a necessary compromise to sell the low-price laptops in a Windows-centric world. Stallman's response compares Negroponte to a drug dealer handing out free samples at the playground.
Teaching children to use Windows is like teaching them to smoke tobacco—in a world where only one company sells tobacco. Like any addictive drug, it inculcates a harmful dependency. No wonder Microsoft offers the first dose to children at a low price. Microsoft aims to teach poor children this dependency so they can smoke Windows for their whole lives. I don’t think governments or schools should support that aim.