The OLPC plan, one laptop per child, once again came up to live when Microsoft announced to join hands with them. The breakup with the tech behemoth Intel, just four months ago, was a setback for OLPC. The agreement will make Microsoft's Windows XP operating system available on OLPC's XO laptop.
This tieup has come at a critical time for OLPC. The departure of Intel and sudden resignations by many high-profile employees have questioned the viability of the nonprofit organization.
The collaboration will allow multitude of educational software applications designed to run on Windows to be also used on the XO laptops. It will make the laptops more useful in schools and acceptable to government ministries. According to Nicholas Negroponte, OLPC's founder and chairman, "It will have a huge impact on the psychology of OLPC. It brings us more into the mainstream of people's minds." The Windows version of the XO could make it more palatable for the governments of developing-world to push the vast investment required to buy large numbers of XOs for their children. "It's a very big deal," said Negroponte in an interview.
After three unsuccessful years attempting to bid governments to buy the laptop in lots of a million, this agreement can infuse new life to this plan. The largest numbers of users are in Peru, followed by Uruguay, Mexico, with fewer in Rwanda, Cambodia, Mongolia and Haiti, among other countries.
The sale of Windows version of the XO will start by this september. Microsoft has made some changes in the Windows XP for the XO laptop. Some softwares have been added to support some of the features of the XO, such as its electronic books, a writing pad, camera, display screen, etc. Windows XP will be loaded on the laptop via a 2-gigabyte flash card. Microsoft will include the Student Innovation Suite, the super-cheap $3 version of Windows and Office, with the Windows XO that will make it a full-fledged Windows NT computer. OLPC plans to launch a version in the future that will be preloaded with both Windows and Linux.