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OLPC XO Laptop Running Windows XP  (Source: Microsoft)
XO Windows XP trials to start in June

The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Foundation has been pushing its XO notebooks in developing nations for a while now at a price of $188 per notebook. The XO has had some stiff competition in the market from competitors like the Classmate from Intel. Many have seen one major drawback to the XO notebook as being the fact that it ran the Linux operating system rather than Windows.

OLPC attempted to initiate talks in the past with Microsoft to put its Windows operating system on the XO to no avail. At the time Microsoft didn’t want to be part of the project because it was going to use Linux as well.

Over time, Microsoft came around to the notion of having its Windows operating systems run on machines that also run Linux, paving the way for talks between it and the OLPC to begin again. Microsoft and the OLPC announced today that they had signed an agreement to provide a customized version of Windows XP for use on the XO Laptop.

Part of the agreement will even allow the OLPC to build XO’s that will be dual boot systems with both Linux and Windows installed at the same time.

Microsoft chief research and strategy officer, Craig Mundie said in a statement, “Transforming education is a fundamental goal of Microsoft Unlimited Potential, our ambitious effort to bring sustained social and economic opportunity to people who currently don’t enjoy the benefits of technology. By supporting a wide variety of affordable computing solutions for education that includes OLPC’s XO laptop, we aim to make technology more relevant, accessible and affordable for students everywhere.”

Microsoft says that customers and partners around the world have been asking for a Windows-powered XO because of the fact that Windows on the low-cost machines would allow educators and students access to the entire ecosystem of Windows software.

Many foreign developing nations see Windows on the XO as a way to give their children marketable technology skill with the world’s most dominant operating system. Andres Gonzalez Diaz, the governor of Cundinamarca, Columbia says, “As I plan my region’s investment in technology, I must evaluate the best way to provide quality education and prepare my citizens for the work force. Windows support on the XO device means that our students and educators will now have access to more than computer-assisted learning experiences. They will also develop marketable technology skills, which can lead to jobs and opportunities for our youth of today and the work force of tomorrow.”

According to the New York Times, the addition of Windows to the XO won’t add much to the cost of the machines. Under Microsoft’s Unlimited Potential program the fee for Windows is around $3 more per machine. To allow the XO to run Windows and Linux will add about $7 to the price tag.

Despite adding Windows to the XO’s list of features, the small notebook faces a tough road ahead. As DailyTech reported before, there is more to the implementation of the XO notebook to consider in developing nations than simply buying notebooks and handing them out.

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RE: I think MS deserves some props on this one
By FITCamaro on 5/16/2008 1:37:46 PM , Rating: 5
I agree.

However, this is hardly a bad thing for Microsoft. By putting Windows on these machines, they are basically training kids in the use of their OS. That means, should any of these kids make it into the corporate world some day, they're going to be up to speed on Windows and want to use it over Linux.

This is why Microsoft is pretty lax on college piracy. Because while the kids might not pay for their software in college, thats only 4-5 years of their life. Once they're out and have a good job, they've got experience with Windows and will be likely purchasing systems with it and other Microsoft software for the rest of their life.

In the end its better to take a hit in the short term for longterm gains.

RE: I think MS deserves some props on this one
By Ammohunt on 5/16/2008 2:19:53 PM , Rating: 1
That’s kind of misleading considering that the kids would learn the GUI that’s being used on top of Linux not Linux itself. The fact of the matter is that 90% of the worlds software that workers encounter in the workplace runs on a Windows OS. Teaching them how to use applications on a customized platform doesn’t do them any favors.

RE: I think MS deserves some props on this one
By Chadder007 on 5/16/2008 5:04:19 PM , Rating: 5
But, but...I though no body wanted XP anymore, according to Steve Ballmer.

By daftrok on 5/16/2008 6:26:11 PM , Rating: 1
+1. I can't shake off the feeling that this is just another PR stunt and they don't really care about the kids that need this laptop. And on top of that, whats with the war between OLPC and Classmate (AMD vs Intel)? There's a time and place to do this and helping out children is no place to do it. It's like cheering for one kid to beat another kid in the special olympics.

“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls
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