Microsoft has joined forces with the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) project in a bid to provide inexpensive portable PCs to schoolchildren in developing countries.
The announcement means that the XO notebook will run Windows as well as the OLPC's home grown Linux-based operating system.
OLPC will be hoping that the partnership with Microsoft will help kick-start demand from education ministers for its XO laptop, which has thus far received orders for just 600,000 systems.
The project has also struggled to drive down the price of its laptop to the highly publicised US$100 mark; the current version is priced at US$188.
OLPC and Microsoft said in a joint statement that trials of laptops loaded with Windows will begin in "four to five" countries from next month, with a broader release in August or September.
"Transforming education is a fundamental goal of Microsoft Unlimited Potential, our ambitious effort to bring sustained social and economic opportunity to people who do not currently enjoy the benefits of technology," said Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer at Microsoft.
"By supporting a wide variety of affordable computing solutions for education that includes OLPC's XO laptop, we aim to make technology more relevant, accessible and affordable for students everywhere."
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