The One Laptop Per Child initiative is about to find out whether Microsoft Corp., a rival that the nonprofit group once derided, is the solution to its problems in spreading inexpensive portable computers to school children worldwide.

Microsoft and the laptop organization announced May 15 that the nonprofit's green-and-white "XO" computers now can run Windows in addition to their homegrown interface, which is built on the open Linux operating system. That had been anticipated for months, but it amounts to a major shift.

Nicholas Negroponte, the founder of the laptop project--which aims to produce $100 computers but now sells them at $188--acknowledged


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