Ethical Performance
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Software giant backs One Laptop project

July 2008

Microsoft has agreed to allow its Windows operating system to be used by the non-profit One Laptop Per Child programme (OLPC), which provides cheap portable computers for schools in developing countries.

The software multinational had previously been reluctant to lend its support because the programme used the Linux operating system, a freely distributed alternative to Windows. Walter Bender, former OLPC president, has resigned over the departure from solely open-source software.

However, James Utzschneider, manager of Microsoft's developing markets unit, said: 'Customers have come to us and said they really like the XO laptop and they would like to see Windows on it.' The first of the new laptops running Windows will be tested in four or five countries and are expected to be publicly available by September.

OLPC wanted Microsoft's support because potential customers for the laptops, mainly officials in developing countries, apparently prefer computers featuring the widely used Windows system.

Most of the 600,000 laptops sold have gone to Mexico, Peru and Uruguay. Windows will add a further $3 to the $188 (£96) cost. The new, lighter XO2 version of the laptop was recently unveiled and should retail at $75 when in full production in 2010. It will run on both Linux and Windows XP.

Business partnerships with OLPC have not always gone smoothly. Earlier this year Intel scrapped an $18million alliance with the programme and quit the board after rows over its marketing of a rival to the XO laptop, the Classmate PC (EP9, issue 9, p2). However, Microsoft pays nothing under the new deal and will not join the board.

Microsoft | Global | Partnerships

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