After years of dispute and half-hearted discussions, the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) organization have come full circle and will be putting Microsoft’s Windows operating system onto its XO laptop. Limited trials will begin next month, with a general release expected as early as September this year.

Founder of OLPC, Nicholas Negroponte said: “The people who buy the machines are not the children who use them, but government officials in most cases. And those people are much more comfortable with Windows.”

It should be noted that Microsoft was originally antagonistic to the idea of Windows XP running on a laptop championing its rival – the XO laptop was originally designed to run the open-sourced Linux operating system.

Excerpt from the New York Times:

Last year, Mr. Negroponte said, he contacted Mr. Gates again, and this time the Microsoft chairman was receptive. He instructed Craig Mundie, Microsoft’s chief research and strategy officer, to work out a deal with Mr. Negroponte. Those talks began in January in private meetings, when both men were attending the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Microsoft apparently also experienced a change of heart:

“Customers have come to us and said they really like the XO laptop and they would like to see Windows on it,” said James Utzschneider, manager of Microsoft’s developing markets unit.

The Linux version of the XO laptop will still be available. On the OLPC’s end, they are now calling for external software developers to create a version of Sugar – the education software running on the XO, for Windows.

It is clear that Mr. Negroponte is driven more by practicalities than dogmatism to a particular concept or operating system. Would you consider him a visionary, or do you see him as missing the picture entirely?