The One Laptop per Child project is about to find out whether Microsoft Corp. -- a rival the nonprofit organization once derided -- is the solution to its problems in providing inexpensive computers to children in the developing world.
The laptop organization and Microsoft announced Thursday that the group's XO computers now can run Windows in addition to their homegrown interface, which is built on the Linux operating system.
Nicholas Negroponte, founder of the Cambridge, Mass., group, acknowledged that having Windows as an option could reassure education ministers who have hesitated to buy XOs with its interface, called Sugar. The organization aims to produce $100 laptops but is now selling them for $188.
Beginning with limited runs next month, XO buyers will have the option of laptops with or without Windows. Versions with Windows will cost $18 to $20 more; $3 of that is for Windows and the rest covers hardware adjustments.
Negroponte hopes to soon sell just one kind of machine with a "dual-boot" mode, meaning users would have Windows and Linux and choose which to run each time.