By Jonathan Fildes
Science and technology reporter, BBC News

May 16, BBC News

Microsoft has joined forces with the developers of the "$100 laptop" to make Windows available on the machines.

The move was prompted by countries which demanded the operating system before placing an order.

Trials of laptops loaded with Windows will begin in "four to five" countries from June, the organisations said.

The founder of One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), which developed the machines, denied the move was a "desperate new measure" to secure more orders.

"While it is certainly true that it has not taken off as fast as I would have hoped and publicly stated, certain countries around the world... have always been very, very insistent that they want Windows as an option," Nicholas Negroponte told BBC News.

Until now, the XO machines, as they are known, have only been offered with an open-source Linux operating system.

Apple tactic

OLPC originally aimed to sell the low-cost laptops in lots of one million to governments in developing countries for $100 each.

The innovative machines, which have been designed for use in remote and harsh environments, were to be distributed to school children.

Over time, however, the project was forced to drop the minimum number of machines that could be ordered. Each machine currently costs $188.

So far, it has sold just 600,000, according to Professor Negroponte, although he said it expected a further 400,000 orders in the next "60 to 90 days".

"There is no question that demand goes up when you offer dual boot," said Professor Negroponte.

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photo: It has taken a year to make XP compatible with the XO (BBC News)