Operating system for OLPC still up in the air

OLPC chairman and evangelist Nicholas Negroponte told reporters earlier this week that OLPC test units were at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond getting a Windows treatment. Negroponte made it clear that it is very possible that OLPCs will ship with a version of Windows as well as the current Linux build. Microsoft is currently developing a low cost. entry level version of Windows XP for installation onto the OLPC units.

Unfortunately, system requirements for Windows XP are steeper than what the OLPC is capable of. Current OLPC XO machines only ship with 512MB of flash memory, enough for a nicely developed version of Linux but not quite enough for Windows. In fact, Microsoft says that the OLPC will require roughly 1.5GB of memory to run Windows properly. Interestingly, Negroponte noted that the XO has an integrated SD memory card slot for memory expansion, something that he says was Microsoft's idea. "We put in an SD slot in the machine just for Bill [Gates]. We didn't need it but the OLPC machines are at Microsoft right now, getting Windows put on them," said Negroponte.

The OLPC group has not made it clear whether or not final XO machines will be shipping with Linux or with Windows. While Microsoft is hard at work putting together a stripped-down version of Windows XP for the XO, the customized RedHat operating system for the XO is already nicely complete. DailyTech previously reported on the graphical user interface of the XO. Simplified and easy to use, it is very likely that Microsoft will have some sort of similar front end for the XO.

XO machines are currently being sampled out to several interested nations. The machines have yet to go into full mass production, but previous reports suggest the time is close. Actual pricing for the XO units are expected to be around $140, which Negroponte hopes will drop down to the original $100 mark once production increases.

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