OLPC: Now $175 and Windows XP ReadyS

Nick Negroponte, founder of the One Laptop Per Child initiative, announced that the price of the so-called "$100 laptop" would actually be $175 when manufacturer Quanta begins production this October. Earlier this year, we told you the OLPC might cost over $200, so even though this is a price hike, it's actually good news. Negroponte also announced that, in addition to the Linux-based OS we showed you earlier, OLPCs would now run Windows.

Say what you will about evil empires and what not, Bill Gates has been lauded for trying to help the developing world for some time now. Nevertheless, he had been known to say a nasty thing or two about the OLPC project. Now, it seems his concerns about the computer's decency could be subsiding.

Is it any surprise that this Windows-compatibility news comes on the heels of Gates' announcement that (legal) copies of Windows XP plus Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 would be available to developing countries for $3 a pop? Called a generous offer, a shrewd business move and a clever way to combat piracy, the $3 kit seems ready-made for OLPCs.

If things work out, Microsoft will have hitched a ride on a comet. The OLPC project needs orders totaling 3 million units to get started, but already seven countries are lining up—Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, Pakistan, Thailand, Nigeria and Libya—with Peru and Russia starting to mull it over. Perhaps more importantly at the get-go, 19 state governors in the US have expressed interest in OLPCs for poorer families. Originally Negroponte said no, but he may change his mind.

The question is, does this new cozy relationship between OLPC and Microsoft spell trouble for the cute XO operating system? Or was XO doomed to fail from the start? Let the debatin' begin.

'$100 Laptop' to Cost $175 [AP/Chicago Tribune]