Windows XP is going to be made available for One Laptop Per Child's (OLPC's) '$100 laptop' next year, according to Microsoft, which has announced plans for field trials in January 2008.

OLPC's XO laptop ships with a Linux operating system and was originally designed as a low-cost machine available for children in emerging economies. Earlier this year, Microsoft launched its Unlimited Potential programme, which allows governments to buy a $3 (£1.50) software bundle designed for students, a move that some observers said would compete with the OLPC initiative.

Looking beyond the OLPC to other small PCs that use flash storage, Microsoft said it plans to publish design guidelines early in 2008 to assist flash-based device makers in building machines that will support Windows.

After the limited field trials beginning in January, Windows XP for the XO could be available in the second half of 2008, Microsoft said.

Versions of the XO PC running Windows won’t be available in the US or Canada, Microsoft said.

Despite the timeline described by Microsoft in an official statement, a Microsoft engineer wrote in a blog post that it’s not certain Windows will become commercially available on the XO laptop. “We have not announced formal plans to support the XO yet, and we will not do so until after we start getting feedback from our first limited field trials starting in January before we make the final call,” he wrote on Wednesday.

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