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As expected, OLPC embraces Windows

No surprise here, unless you actually believed people don't "want" Windows:

Microsoft and the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative announced Thursday that the Windows operating system would soon be available on the so-called XO, also known as the "$100 laptop." In interviews, executives made it clear that this could be a catalytic shift in perception and market success for the innovative but up-to-now aberrant laptop intended for the poor children of the world.

The Windows version of the XO will go on sale by September. Like the regular, Linux-based version, it will at first actually cost closer to $200, because the project has not yet achieved the volumes that could drive costs down.

Making Windows available on the XO could make it far more palatable for developing-world governments to make the huge investment necessary to purchase large numbers of XOs for their children. "It's a very big deal," said OLPC chairman Nicholas Negroponte in an interview.

To get Windows working on the XO took time, because it has a number of unique hardware features, like an e-book reading mode. Microsoft will include its super-cheap $3 version of Windows and Office called the Student Innovation Suite with the Windows XO, which will thus be a full-fledged Windows NT computer.

With Microsoft applying its entire ecosystem to the task, the XO is far more likely to get traction in countries around the world. The company will recruit its system integrator partners, its own consulting unit, and involve the XO in its teacher training programs, among other efforts.

Negroponte says when he made the rounds in Egypt trying to interest the government in buying XOs, four ministers he met all asked "by the second sentence" whether they ran Windows.

Yep. I bet they did.

Frankly, the built-in software in today's XO is horrific. Assuming it runs OK, XP will be a huge improvement.

Related: Microsoft and One Laptop per Child Partner to Deliver Affordable Computing to Students Worldwide (press release)

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