Microsoft Joins The OLPC Project With Plans For a Dual-Boot Machine

Microsoft has thrown its support behind the One Laptop Per Child project with an announcement that OLPC computers could soon be dual-boot with a choice between either Linux or Windows XP when running the XO machines.

According to eFlux Media both Microsoft and OLPC have promised to work with governments and nongovernmental organizations to ensure that the program will be a success.

The move comes after disappointing sales for the OLPC project. The target was for 150 million of the computers to be shipped by the end of 2008 however, to date, media reports suggest the number of machines sold to foreign governments is around the 600,000 mark.

January also saw Intel step back from its support of the campaign after just a few months with the program. Intel cited differences with OLPC Chief Nicholas Negroponte as the reason for pulling out of the organisation. It later emerged that OLPC was unhappy that the company was developing its own low cost PC for schools in poorer countries. Intel claimed OLPC accused the company of pushing its own Classmate PC to governments of developing nations in favour of the XO laptop, however none of these claims were ever proved.

Negroponte feels the adoption of Windows XP will help the outfit flog more of the laptops to foreign governments given the fact that Microsoft is such a huge name.

Unfortunately XP for the XO comes at a cost. The original plan was to develop a hundred dollar laptop, however the price as it stands is just under twice that. OLPC said it hoped to have the price down to $100 in 2008 but that, realistically; it would probably be around $140. The addition of Windows XP to the XO laptop will add an extra $3 dollars to the price. If countries are looking for a dual-boot version that can run both Linux and Windows, you’re looking at an extra $7 dollars per laptop.

While OLPC seems to think that the adoption of a well known OS will boost sales, many people aren’t happy with the fact that this could have been a huge opportunity for Linux machines to become a more widespread occurrence. Most of us start out with Microsoft and shift to alternative operating systems after a number of years. The OLPC project meant there would be millions of Linux savvy children from the word go. There’s also the issue of viruses. Traditionally there are more attempts to circumvent Windows security simply because there are more Windows computers out there. The implications of running Windows rather than Linux on machines with low levels of security could be huge.

Microsoft has said it will begin testing XP-XO laptops in June.

  • wild9
    This could have been an opportunity to further develop the Amiga's operating system..compact, secure and very, very powerful. But this is about corporate interests, isn't it..rather than helping people.
  • virtualban
    It's a crippled down version of Windows anyway. And XP will be sold only as such probably, even with higher prices. If MS did a better job with Vista, maybe they'd not have to go to these lengths. I'm all for linux here!
  • martel80
    Since they're not going to play games or use CAD software on the machines, why would they even need Windows?
    And why does the dual-boot version costs more when Linux is free? It's like the Linux cost $4 - ridiculous.
  • I read that the air force was hoping to build an army of bot PCs...wonder if they have been contacted to subsidize this project.....