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One Laptop Per Child's Controversial Support for XP

It seems as if no matter what Microsoft does to try to kill off Windows XP, the aging operating system seems to endear itself to users.

The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative and Microsoft announced Thursday that the project to provide extremely inexpensive, though rugged, laptops to children in emerging economies will include a proprietary component -- Windows XP.

"The intention is to create a version of the XO laptop that provides the ability to host both Windows and Linux operating systems, giving users the ability to run either on the XO laptop," a joint statement from the two organizations said.

That causes at least some OLPC supporters outrage, given that the original plans for the OLPC laptops called for the systems to only run open source software – which, of course, XP is not.

However after running preliminary tests over the past several months, the software giant and the philanthropic organization (laptop.org) announced XP will be available on OLPCs.

"Today Microsoft and the OLPC are announcing support for Windows on the OLPC XO computer. The two organizations will work together on several pilot programs in emerging market countries starting next month, and the offering will RTM [be released to manufacturing or RTM] in August or September," said a blog posting Thursday by James Utzschneider, general manager of marketing and communications for Microsoft's Unlimited Potential group.

The Unlimited Potential group was formed to work on educational and economical issues in the developing world.

OLPC
The OLPC laptop
Source: Microsoft

OLPC was founded by Nicholas Negroponte, former head of MIT's Media Lab, with the goal of producing a laptop for use by the poorest children in emerging nations.

Night of the Living Dead?

The announcement comes at a time when Microsoft has been trying to kill off the seven-year-old XP, but its continued popularity seems to have given it the longevity of Dorian Gray.

Microsoft announced last year that most system builders and OEMs would have to quit selling systems with XP after June 30, 2008. That, however, was an extension from January 30, 2008 when availability was originally supposed to end, and rumors continue to fly that customer demand may force Microsoft to extend the cutoff once again, beyond the end of June.

Just last month, Microsoft announced XP would become the operating system for what it describes as ultra low-cost PCs or ULCPCs, thus extending XPs life for another two years.

"Windows XP Home for ULCPCs will be available until the later of June 30, 2010, or one year after general availability of the next version of Windows [AKA Windows 7]," a company statement said at the time. Nothing has been said about how long XP will be available on the OLPC.