Microsoft has had their eyes set on low cost laptops for a while, telling the world they would work hard to get Windows XP functioning on the infamous XO units made by the OLPC project. Now, after a lot of controversy from both sides of the fence, Microsoft and the OLPC project are teaming up. The leader and founder of the project, Nicholas Negroponte, claims that partnering with Microsoft will give the project a broader acceptance in the community and get the platform a better chance of growing. That may be true, but considering the original aim for the laptop was to get low cost machines into the hands of children in developing countries, it almost seems like a step back.
On the other hand, the bottom line for Governments and others looking to deploy the machines will be cost. If Windows undercuts Linux, it may be a serious blow to the free and open platform the OLPC was founded upon.
Just last month, one of the senior execs for the OLPC company made a very public exit, citing disagreements with Negroponte and the direction the company was headed in. This deal was likely a big reason in that decision, and if the OLPC project continues to walk this path it's likely they will lose more people that don't want to see the project become just another Windows laptop.