Yahoo News reported yesterday that the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) and at once the darling and the redheaded stepchild of the IT and academic communities, will most likely now cost $175 instead of the $100 originally projected. More significantly, though, Nicholas Negroponte disclosed that the small laptop to be sold to developing countries would be capable of running Windows, as well as a custom Linux distro. Sounds like a response to Microsoft's $3 Student Innovation Suite.
I can't say it's necessarily a bad idea since an awful lot of the kids who may benefit from OLPC (and I use that term loosely since I'm still not sold on the idea, or the opportunity costs associated with it) will eventually use Windows. However,
Word of Microsoft's involvement was somewhat striking given that the software company and its closest corporate partner, Intel Corp., have questioned whether the One Laptop Per Child's computers will do much to stimulate educational gains.
once denigrated the machine as not being a "decent computer." And Intel is pushing its own inexpensive computer for developing countries, the $400 Classmate PC.
Additional changes also seem to be in the air for OLPC, since the group is now considering selling to US schools (19 states have shown interest). It's difficult to say what might have influenced these changes, especially because Microsoft chose not to comment.