Microsoft wants to make its Windows operating system available on the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) notebook computers, OLPC chairman Nicholas Negroponte said at the NetEvents conference in Hong Kong on Saturday.
"I have known [Microsoft chairman] Bill Gates his entire adult life. We talk, we meet one-on-one, we discuss this project," said Negroponte, vnunet.com can reveal.
"We put in an SD slot in the machine just for Bill. We didn't need it but the OLPC machines are at Microsoft right now, getting Windows put on them."
The SD slots allow users to add additional storage capacity to the laptops. Additional memory would be required for Windows to run on the current OLPC XO test models because they ship with only 512Mb of built in Flash memory.
The system requirements for Windows XP demand a minimum of 1.5Gb of storage space for both the Home and low cost Starter Edition that Microsoft targets at developing nations.
Microsoft's testing of Windows on the OLPC computers marks a major shift in the strategy for the project, which was designed to run a set of open source applications including an adapted version of Red Hat's Fedora Linux distribution.
Gates has publicly criticised the OLPC project, arguing that its small screen and lack of a hard disk make it underpowered.
The educational project attempts to build a low cost notebook computer that will improve education for children in developing economies.
As the device is nearing completion, test units are currently being distributed to nations that have expressed interest in purchasing the notebooks, such as Nigeria and Brazil.
When Negroponte first announced the project in January 2005, he was aiming for a price tag of $100 per device. This prompted the project to be nicknamed the '$100 laptop'.
The first units are expected to cost around $140, with prices dropping as production ramps up and component prices decrease.
A Microsoft spokesman declined to comment.
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