Microsoft Wants Windows XP on OLPCs

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When Nicholas Negroponte originally set out to build a laptop from the ground up and as cheaply as possible, that decision included omitting commercial software like Windows in favor of Linux. Two years later, the One Laptop Per Child program has moved the XO Laptop from dream to reality – and now Microsoft wants in.

Microsoft officially announced on Wednesday that it was internally developing a version of Windows XP that will be able to run on flash-based laptops such as the XO. Early development has already begun, real-world tests will commence in January 2008, and, with any luck, widespread availability will begin by the second half of 2008.

According to James Utzschneider, general manager of Microsoft’s Unlimited Potential program (which handles developing markets), the XO’s extremely limited storage presented a special challenge to developers. Versions of Windows have already been adapted to Asus’ EEE and Intel’s Classmate PC, both of which have more storage than the XO. To make future adaptations easier, Microsoft will publish guidelines for developers early next year to ensure that future flash-based systems can run Windows without complications.

Microsoft has no plans to release a commercial version of the specialized Windows XP variants it develops.