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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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I think MS deserves some props on this one
By Phlargo on 5/16/2008 1:27:23 PM , Rating: 4
People complain about Microsoft all day and night and here's an opportunity to show some appreciation for a job well done.

To provide their OSs at such a discount price for developing markets provides an opportunity for classically underprivileged individuals access to a worldwide industry standard.

If they have a hope of getting a job in the outside world, the likelihood that being familiar with Windows would be useful is pretty high.

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.

By heffeque on 5/18/2008 11:43:46 AM , Rating: 2
Apple offered MacOS X for free and the option was denied because it wasn't open source. Why is M$'s XP in there then?

By Aquaadverse on 5/16/2008 8:41:58 PM , Rating: 4
"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."

The fact of the matter is clicking on Firefox or a mail client icon is the same no matter what GUI you use. A 22 year old would have used Windows 98 in primary school. Helps a lot on Vista,eh?

Teaching them a locked down, proprietary system that in all likelihood will run like crap after being chopped up and crammed onto a machine won't do them any favors either. It's not like they'll be running Office or any of the other commercial applications on the machine. Being able to examine code and actually see what an OS does and how it works is a thousand times more useful then the memorization of what icon to click on. What department of Microsoft do you work in?

By SocketAKing on 5/17/2008 12:15:16 PM , Rating: 1
Wow, why are you so hateful?

Let me tell you something that everyone in the 21st century seems to happily oblivious too... Microsoft is a company.

What do companies do? Make money. No matter what you say that is the SOLE purpose of a company. But as of late the cool thing to do has been to hate any company that makes a substantial amount of money, and Microsoft is no different.

But here is where you are COMPLETELY wrong Aquaadverse. What's good for Microsoft and what's good for this project and the exact same. Imagine that, both companies benefiting from a business deal... Woah.

The fact is that in almost every workplace that requires computer usage, you are going to have to know how to operate windows. You cannot ignore this my friend, and if you have ever had a desk-job you wouldn't even bother.

What does a 22 that used 98 know about vista? Ten times more than a 22 that used linux (if it was a viable choice). Unless you've never owned a windows system, I have to call out your ignorance on this one. In case you haven't realized, the core OS has NOT changed that much at all.

You Microsoft haters can't have it both ways. You say that xp, vista, and soon the be 7 are just windows 95 and 98 with extras. And then you say that vista is somehow a whole different thing altogether? Please... vista is xp plus aero and uac. XP is 98 plus Networking.

And your last paragraph... wow. These are kids not IT technicians. If they want to take the path of computer/software engineering, owning windows in their childhood will not hinder them in any way, lol, Overdramatic much?

I can see it now... "Sorry Billy, but you didn't use linux at age 7. You have no chance of knowing anything about computers... EVER!"

You Microsoft haters are too much.

By Funk Phenomena on 5/17/2008 2:29:53 PM , Rating: 2
To go for some middle ground, I'd say windows is a security blanket. Corporate knowledge of windows is pretty basic, kids learning linux are not adversely affected.

Inundating kids and schools with windows is akin to the college-kids-piracy point made above. It's bringing up a whole new generation of windows addicts. It's not so much ms haters, rather that linux is built by the people, for the people, without any corporate branding. Apple would be in the same crosshairs if they put their os on olpc, but they cater to yuppies, so no worries, lol.

To me, olpc seems like a ship that has already sunk with it's officer(s) locked in an airtight compartment, still plotting strategy.

At least they aren't trying to load Vista!
By jbwhite99 on 5/16/2008 4:38:03 PM , Rating: 3
Microsoft already offers a "starter" edition of both Vista and XP Home - they are limited in what they do. While it costs a lot more than $3, as other posters said, it gets the computers (and Windows) in the door.

However, I am concerned that non-sophisticated users are going to get viruses, spyware, bots on these machines, and now we have a half-functioning machine. Hopefully XO is working with MS to get virus software, etc loaded on these machines. I am hoping that it won't cost much - in both $ and performance - to properly protect these machines.

By Crassus on 5/16/2008 5:58:38 PM , Rating: 3
Hopefully XO is working with MS to get virus software, etc loaded on these machines.

I think the malware and virus software will get there even without Microsoft's help :P

OLPC + Microsoft
By ioannis on 5/16/2008 6:26:39 PM , Rating: 2
And the world will be a better place...

What about us?
By Trippytiger on 5/16/2008 7:32:04 PM , Rating: 2
So how likely is it that this will be available to people who bought an XO through the G1G1 program? I'm really not a fan of Sugar, and it would be nice to have an OS on the laptop that my parents are more familiar with.

"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer
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