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One Laptop Per Child initiative to offer Windows XP option

Windows XP to be available on low-cost laptop to meet demands of emerging markets

Microsoft and the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative have reached an agreement to provide the Windows XP operating system on the low-cost PC.

The deal will see trials of Windows running on the XO laptop in several key emerging markets from June.

The XO machines have previously only been available with the Linux OS installed. The Windows laptops will cot $199, compared to $189 for the Linux-based machines. The Windows OS will be supplied on a 2GB memory card.

Nicholas Negroponte, founder of the OLPC said that the move was in response to demand from countries who wanted the more familiar Windows XP OS installed on the devices.

"While it is certainly true that it has not taken off as fast as I would have hoped and publicly stated, certain countries around the world... have always been very, very insistent that they want Windows as an option," Negroponte told the BBC.

In a statement issued by Microsoft, Andrés Gonzalez Díaz, governor of Cundinamarca, Colombia seemed to confirm the sentiments that some countries had refused to buy XO laptops without Windows.

"As I plan my region's investment in technology, I must evaluate the best way to provide quality education and prepare my citizens for the work force. Windows support on the XO device means that our students and educators will now have access to more than computer-assisted learning experiences. They will also develop marketable technology skills, which can lead to jobs and opportunities for our youth of today and the work force of tomorrow," he said.

Microsoft said that it has spent a year working with OLPC and its suppliers to ensure that Windows is compatible with a number of different features of the XO laptop, such as e-book reading mode, standard Wi-Fi networking, camera, writing pad, custom keys and power saving. However, Windows does not yet support mesh networking that allows XO machines to share data, or the Sugar interface that has been designed for first time computer users.

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