In a speech this afternoon to the Harvard Business Club at Harvard College, Nicholas Negroponte, founder of One Laptop Per Child, hinted at an upcoming agreement between Microsoft and OLPC. This agreement, expected in the next few weeks, will create a Windows version of the OLPC XO laptop.
A working prototype of the computer, the first of its kind, was passed around the room. The laptop had a quick startup time, with all the sights and sounds of Windows XP. A team of 25-30 Microsoft engineers worked on creating this modified version of Windows XP, designed specifically for the XO. The laptop connected to the local WIFI connection, ran Microsoft Office, and had no obvious difficulties running the operating system. A quick look at the system properties showed the laptop running at 433 MHz on an AMD Geode processor, with 232 MB of RAM, representing the standard hardware configuration of the XO.
The ability to run Windows will certainly bring credibility to the OLPC. Fighting the stigma of being a toy, this ability shows the real potential of the laptop. Additionally, a Windows version could be a very big selling point for the Give One Get One program, providing a revenue source for success of distributing laptops throughout impoverished countries.
The XO is currently in mass production, manufacturing 110,000 laptops last month, all running the Linux OS.