Microsoft has made progress in getting its Windows software to work on a low-cost laptop computer for poor children that currently runs on rival Linux software, an executive said on Thursday.
The world's largest software company is now working to adapt a basic version of Windows XP so it is compatible with the nonprofit One Laptop per Child Foundation's small green-and-white XO laptop.
"We're spending a nontrivial amount of money on it," Microsoft Corporate Vice President Will Poole said in an interview on Thursday.
"We remain hopeful with our progress to date, we still have significant work ahead to finalize our analysis and testing processes," he said. "At the end of the day, there's no guarantees."
The One Laptop per Child Foundation, a spin-off from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, plans to start producing the $188 machines in China next month and eventually manufacture millions a year for elementary school children in developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
The foundation is also selling the machines in the United States and Canada for $400 apiece through a fund-raising campaign.
The laptops were designed specifically to run Linux programs. If the machines run only Linux, Microsoft will lose an opportunity to expose tens of millions of children worldwide to its Windows system.
Originally dubbed the $100 laptop, which is the group's target price for the machine, the XO features a string pulley to charge its battery, a keyboard that switches between languages, a digital video camera and wireless connectivity.
The computer requires just 2 watts of power compared with the typical laptop's 30 to 40 watts and does away with hard drives, relying instead on flash memory and four USB ports to add memory devices.
The foundation will start taking orders for its Give 1 Get 1 campaign on November 12 at www.laptopgiving.org