I have a bit of a vex with the whole laptops-for-kids thing. Yes, it’s a beautiful initiative, a step forward as a country. But one doesn’t help but think it’s little less of yet another bargaining card for the ruling elite. I mean, is it by mere chance that this project gets hot a couple of years before election year? But hey, these are political waters I’m swimming in right now. I should be careful about what I say.
That though, isn’t my main worry. I have heard (and seen in a couple of pics) that the operating system in use in the laptops and tablets that these kids giddily hug and pet on their desks, is worryingly, the infamously troublesome and finicky Windows 10.
But don’t get me wrong. Windows 10 is a beautiful robust OS by Microsoft. It’s probably the best parts of Windows 8’s modernist take and Windows 7’s rugged capable beauty. But it’s not the right OS to introduce these kids to computing. It is far too complex and buggy. Its app scene, for example, is split in two. The Universal Windows Apps (UWA) you can download from the bundled store and the native win32 apps you are most likely to get in installation disks and a plethora of other sources. That’s a messy start for kids.
Another point of worry is that is a uniquely Windows OS. It is distinct. Yes, it does share similarities with the other operating systems in the market but it does not respect the delicate differences in tastes and preferences these kids will grow up to. It’s like bringing up your kids having only one kind of bread and letting them believe all other brands are just bundled clay. (Okay that’s stretching it a bit). Yes, some of the kids will need/want to use macOS or Linux in their lives.
We all have headache stories of using Windows 10. I do, yet I’m a certified geek. Yes, updates help smooth things over but still, it’s not the silk walkover that Windows 7 was. You really don’t want to have your 5 year old worry about freezes and BSODs when they should be counting how many forks their Es have or if a cow is a domestic or wild animal. And besides, this is Kenya. Do you think these devices will get the updates they need in a timely fashion? What strategy do we have to combat viruses (since this is Windows)? I think not.
Windows 10, much as I knock it about, is a beautiful OS. I love it. Its mobile version is my favourite smartphone OS. If you ignore/work out ingenious ways around the little qualms it’s choked full of, it is really amazing. I use both mobile and desktop versions of the OS daily. But I’m a Computer Science graduate. I’m supposed to do this, to endure all these annoyances. Not your kids.
What exactly is the curriculum for this laptop project? What will the upper classes be taught in the said curriculum? Is it examinable? These are the questions that I wonder if they have answers to.
So, with all that rant, does my smart behind have a solution then? Well, yes, sort of. I do think there is a better OS to introduce kids to computing.
Remix OS. It is fairly new, and can be installed on almost every hardware platform. It is based on Android OS so it gains the benefits such as light need of system resources, tons of apps and a really simplified take on desktop environments. It’s app scene is quite sane as well. Plus it is really beautiful. There are control structures both built in and available for android, so using it in a distributed environment isn’t ostentatious. Furthermore, it’s free. I have it running on an old Dell laptop here so my young siblings can have something to game/watch movies on, and they love it!