Sunday, May 18, 2008

Windows XP Home Edition, Now at Bargain Price to Cheap Laptop Makers

According to recent published reports, the XO Laptop which is the first prototype version of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Foundation will be running windows XP with dual boot of Sugar software from Red Hat Linux Inc. This was announced by Professor Nicholas Negroponte, current chair of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Initiative.

Initially, this project was started by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) having the goal to develop an inexpensive laptop computer for elementary school children in developing countries at a US$100 price. Microsoft having the popular Windows Operating System and at present is running 90% of the world’s computers was never been a part of this project. Sugar was only designed to work with a free Linux operating system. However, in recent months, serious talks had been going on between the two sides and started testing the Sugar software package of the XO Laptop on Windows OS.

Eventually, the aim is to be to develop and achieve versions of the XO to run both Linux and Windows, giving the user to choose which operating system to run when booting up. The said Sugar package is an educational software suite with a user interface for the green-and-white machines with a power-saving display having the capability to switch from color to black-and-white for viewing in direct sunlight.

Meanwhile, Microsoft had announced last year that Windows XP will not be available anymore in the market on January of 2008 and extended the deadline up to this coming June 30, meaning, Microsoft will stop selling new Windows XP licenses thereafter. Lately, on the Microsoft Website, it has been announced that Windows XP Home Edition’s availability will be extended for use solely on Ultra-Low-Cost PCs (ULCPC), as an exception. The early models of these ULCPCs are the XO Laptop and the Asus Eee PC designs.

For the next six months, it is expected that several designs of ULCPCs will be out in the market, twenty or more models. Microsoft is expecting to sell 10 to 13 million of these devices only this year alone – to hit 9 million more until 2012.

Microsoft will only charge PC makers an OEM steep discounted price between US$26 (for developing countries like China and India) and US$32 (for develop countries) per unit of Windows XP Home Edition. However, PC manufacturers have to enter into a contract as Microsoft called it as Market Development Agreement (MDA). This agreement embodied limited capabilities on devices that in order to be eligible, these machines must be, limited 80GB of hard drives, limited screen sizes to 10.2 inches (should not be touch-screens), the systems can have no more than 1G byte of RAM and a single-core processor running at no more than 1GHz. This will provide program an allowance for some chips, including Via Technologies' C7-M processors, which run between 1.0GHz and 1.6GHz, and Intel's upcoming Atom N270.

Since the ULCPCs will be sold between US$200 and US$500 per unit with the pre-installed bargain price of Windows XP Home Edition, Microsoft encourages PC makers to take this alternative offer instead of the Linux. Consumers who wanted an easy-to-use PCs always prefer Windows, and that is a fact.

Considering this bargain price of Windows XP Home Edition, does Microsoft secured again its dominance in the OS market? Is this a step of Microsoft to stop Linux penetrating into cheap Laptops of ULCPCs and in the same way maintaining the price of their Vistas in the market?

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