Microsoft announced this week that it will be bringing its flash-based version of Windows XP to the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) XO laptop in January as part of a limited test to support low-cost computing devices. The company is already testing this stripped down version of XP on the Intel Classmate and ASUS Eee PC, which, like the XO, are flash-based systems aimed at emerging markets.
"Microsoft's goal is to provide a high-quality Windows experience on the XO device," a Microsoft statement reads. "If this is achieved, then Windows XP for the XO could be available as early as the second half of 2008." The current version of the XO, which sells for less than $200 and is designed for children in third world countries, runs a version of the Linux OS.
Windows-based XO laptops will ship in the US, India, and possibly Romania in January, Microsoft says, as part of a limited field test only. Assuming this test goes well, Microsoft will then make the OS available to governments around the world that wish to purchase the XO in volume.
Microsoft said it will publish formal design guidelines in early 2008 for hardware makers that wish to create Windows-based computing devices that are based on flash RAM instead of hard drives, the latter of which offer far more storage but are less energy efficient and reliable. Systems like the XO, Classmate, and Eee PC all use flash memory.
The XO, in particular, includes just 1 GB of memory. Microsoft says the combination of Windows and Office will require at least 2 GB of RAM, however, so XO has included an SD card slot on its device for expansion reasons: Microsoft says that its version of Windows will boot on the XO from the SD card.