Cambridge (MA) – Walter Bender, the number 2 person at the One Laptop Per Child Foundation and longtime MIT colleague of founder Nicholas Negroponte has quit. Bender worked with the organization for two years and was instrumental in developing and championing the open source desktop software used on the $188 green laptop.
Bender, who was President of Software and Content at OLPC, announced his departure in an email to his colleagues, “I
have decided to take some time to reflect on how I can best contribute going forward to the goal of giving children around the world opportunities for a quality learning experience,” Bender said. There’s no mention of his departure on his personal website here.
There are rumors on the various OLPC boards that Bender was forced out because of his staunch favoritsm for a completely open source platform on the OLPC. While Bender hasn’t hinted at any differences in opinion, just after Bender announced his departure, Negroponte toldAssociated Press reporters that the OLPC XO computer could have a dual-boot option with Windows XP in the future. He also said he would consider shipping the XO with only XP.
Back in December, we reportedthat Microsoft was hard at work developing a slimmed down version of Windows XP for the OLPC. XP would add approximately $10 to the cost of the XO laptop.
Bender’s departure follows another high-profile resignation at the OLPC foundation. Back in December, Mary Lou Jepsen left her CTO post. Bender will now head up an independent effort to take the Sugar desktop to other Linux machines.