As soon as I heard about the OLPC project in late 2007, I wanted to research what others were saying before I jumped ahead to make a purchase. There were varying comments on several discussion boards.
One comment suggested that the XO laptops are ‘not compatible’ with the usual Microsoft software and that children who would seek employment in adulthood would not be able to function if they did not know how to use Word or Excel.
I had the opportunity to test one of these laptops and even my 3 year old son can utilize it in a basic sense. "Compatibility" is really not an issue.
The laptop teaches more free and creative thinking than regular machines.
It reminds me of first learning Basic programming back in high school in the early 80's - archaic as it may seem to use a non-gui system back then to program a simple sound - the XO system teaches kids the ins and outs of a computer and in many cases allows them to 'reprogram' their laptop because of the flexibility of open source applications.
Children are the most adaptable when it comes to learning new things and I am sure they will be able to pick up on how to use the Microsoft proprietary software that is out there when they need to. Having a laptop does not mean that a child a child would never be able to encounter the basic concepts of a spreadsheet, etc. Who says that knowing Excel, Word and Powerpoint are the only ways to live in the working world?