updated 11:20 am EDT, Fri April 27, 2007
OLPC with Windows
The One Laptop Per Child notebook (known as the XO) is seeing its price increase and its software support grow, the project's leader Nicholas Negroponte said today. The small portable, which was famously targeted at a $100 price per unit for developing countries, saw its price swell from an already higher $150 to $175 on Friday after component prices were factored in. The OLPC head hasn't explained the price increase but implied that component pricing was the culprit, suggesting that the price will ultimately reach the $100 goal in the next few years as components become cheaper over time.
Critically, Negroponte also noted that the XO will also gain Windows support, a move llong thought impossible after criticism from Microsoft as well as rival Classmate PC maker Intel. While the system achieves its low cost in part because of a simplified version of Linux, the OLPC team has been in talks with Microsoft to ensure that a version of Windows can run on the system.
The move may be timed to match a special $3 Windows and Office deal that Microsoft has established for countries that give away personal use PCs, which was originally thought by some to be an attempt to override the OLPC project itself. Microsoft has yet to comment and hasn't explained its specific plans.
Adding Windows may also be fruitful to the XO's chances in the US. Although the system was originally developed for poorer countries, Negroponte revealed that 19 US state governors had taken a liking to the system and have asked about using the XO in schools. Whether or not the software would change wasn't specified, but is a possibility given increased familiarity with the OS in the US.