You're not alone if you've been confused as to whether the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) low-cost XO PCs will be able to run Windows or not.
1. Windows could run -- theoretically and/or practically -- on OLPC systems
2. Anyone (inside or outside Microsoft) had actually tried running any version of Windows on them
3. Microsoft was interested in licensing Windows to PC/device makers to run on OLPC systems
4. The OLPC contingent was willing to allow anything other than Linux power OLPC systems.
A month or so ago, when I asked Microsoft about this, it sounded as if the company was well on its way to doing tests of Windows XP on XO machines with OLPC Director Nicholas Negroponte's blessing.
But it wasn't until December 5 that Microsoft finally issued an official statement acknowledging its OLPC plans. From the statement:
"Microsoft plans to publish formal design guidelines early next year that will assist flash-based device manufacturers in designing machines that enable a high-quality Windows experience. In addition, there will be limited field trials in January 2008 of Windows XP for One Laptop per Child’s XO laptop. Microsoft’s goal is to provide a high-quality Windows experience on the XO device; if this is achieved, then Windows XP for the XO could be available as early as the second half of 2008."
Microsoft's work on OLPCs is coming out of the Unlimited Potential team -- the folks working on Windows Starter Edition, the FlexGo pay-as-you-go Windows trials and other projects/products.
What do you think the prospects are for Windows XP-based OLPC systems? Will Microsoft be able -- and willing -- to undercut Linux OLPCs on price (and will that be a bad thing, if poorer nations end up with more, less-expensive computer choices?
Update: News.com's Ina Fried has more info, with Microsoft claming that it issued its public statement to provide a reality check to an overzealous Negroponte, who is allegedly telling folks it's a done deal that XP will be on OLPCs. Microsoft isn't yet sure whether it will be able to get Windows and Office to run on the stripped-down machines at a quality level with which it feels comfortable, according to Fried's blog post.