updated 01:55 pm EST, Wed January 9, 2008
The One Laptop Per Child project is developing an update to its XO notebook that will let users run two operating systems on one of the computers, group chair Nicholas Negroponte says in an interview. Though multi-boot setups are not unique to the Mac, the OLPC head says the portable for developing-world schools will soon have a multi-OS system "like on an Apple" that lets users quickly flip between the OLPC's custom Sugar Linux-based interface and Windows XP. Although concerns have been raised about the Microsoft software's performance on the $200 system, the OLPC group notes that the XO's version is not the same as on most computers.
"The version that's up and running of Windows on the XO is very fast, it's very, very successful," Negroponte says. "We're working very hard to do both [well]."
The development represents the first fruit of a deal struck in December that would have Microsoft experiment with Windows to ensure it runs well on the low-power system. The move has been largely regarded as unconventional for Microsoft, which has historically opposed open-source projects such as Linux. Microsoft's project is the result of a relatively softened approach, according to Negroponte.
"[Microsoft]'s become a little bit less religious than it was a few years ago and that's really good," he says.
No pricing has been discussed for any versions that might come with dual-boot pre-installed, though the XO may be integrated into some of Microsoft's existing programs to help develop a foundation for computing in developing regions.