OLPC chief predicts Windows for ARM architecture

Nicholas Negroponte has told ZDNet UK that he is 'convinced' Microsoft will, within 18 months, make a version of Windows that can run on ARM-based architecture
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

The head of the One Laptop per Child project has predicted that Microsoft will develop a version of Windows for ARM-based architecture within the next 18 months.

The first version of the OLPC educational laptop, the XO, uses an x86-based AMD chipset, but OLPC has now decided to move away from x86 architecture so as to make the next generation of their low-price laptops more power-efficient. ARM-based architecture is already dominant in the world of mobile-phone chipsets, but is now starting to make its way into the next generation of netbooks. Currently, however, the only version of Windows that runs on ARM-based architecture is Windows Mobile.

On Friday, OLPC chief Nicholas Negroponte said the next version of the XO would use ARM-based architecture. "It will take us 12-18 months to get the first XO 2.0's out," Negroponte told ZDNet UK via email. "By then, I am convinced Microsoft will have Windows on the ARM."

ARM-based processors cannot currently run Windows, client versions of which are normally tailored to x86 architecture. However, manufacturers such as Freescale and Qualcomm are now using ARM's Cortex-A8 architecture for chips that are destined for slim, low-price, energy-efficient netbooks running Linux. These devices are anticipated to hit the shelves by Christmas.

The current XO laptop is dual-boot, giving the user a choice of Windows XP and a Linux-based operating system.

Negroponte also wrote that the next big decision for OLPC would involve its funding model, with three options available including a consortium approach, a single-sponsor approach and the 'Give One, Get One' approach that already sees some consumers in the developed world buy two XOs each — one to keep for themselves and one to give to a child in the developing world.

More details about the next generation of XO laptops will be forthcoming in the next three weeks, Negroponte added.

ZDNet UK had not received comment from ARM or Microsoft at the time of writing.

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