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.