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OLPC: Microsoft to the rescue?


I'm sure many of you will remember the One Laptop Per Child project (OLPC).  The project has been through some difficult times.  The so called $100 laptop actually costs $188.  Nicholas Negroponte could have inadvertently doomed the OLPC project by setting a target price of $100 on the XO laptop.  The price as of yet has not shown any sign of going down and in fact recently increased by $13.

Competitors to Negroponte's XO have sprouted up with Intel's Classmate (running Windows XP) being on the scene for a while and more recently the $199 ASUS/Intel Eee-ase (running Windows XP or Linux) has stirred quite some enthusiasm.  Despite the apparent conflict of interest Intel joined the OLPC board during the summer and pledged to invest $18 million on developing an Intel powered version of the XO laptop.   At the beginning of this year Intel quit OLPC following accusations that they have been actively trying to steal business from the project.

The last year was tough but there may be better times ahead for the OLPC project.  Due to ‘Microsoft's friendlier attitude toward open-source software', the corporation has announced that it will be working with the OLPC team to produce a dual-boot version capable of running both Linux and Windows XP:

"We are working with them very closely to make a dual-boot system so that, like on an Apple, you can boot either one up. The version that's up and running of Windows on the XO is very fast, it's very, very successful. We're working very hard to do both,"

Said Nicholas Negroponte, chairman of OLPC.

Now of course Microsoft would rather not see children in developing nations being exposed to computers running Linux rather than Windows-they are most definitely looking out for themselves here.  That said a dual-boot system is better for all concerned; the children get exposure to both operating systems and the ‘need' for a competing system such as the Classmate because it runs Windows is removed.

It's thought that OLPC may work with Microsoft by combining OLPC's XO laptops with some of their educational programs in developing nations.

Do you think offering a dual-boot version of the XO will help OLPC to fight off its competitors? Can backing from Microsoft help support the project through tough times after Intel's recent shenanigans?  Is the whole project simply a bad idea?  Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

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