I don't see why you should give it up. It is very "doable" with either 98lite Enterprise or Windows XPe. It would not be free however. Both 98Lite and XPe cost money themselves. XPe is $1000 for the developer toolkit, and $90 per distributed copy (which is way less than Windows XP btw).

To do an XPe version it would have to be locked pretty tight to hardware, redistribution rights would have to be acquired, etc. It is a little trickier since the Microsoft culture is very corporate/profit oriented. It is however doable at a cost as whoever does it needs to recoup their investment in the toolkit, and charge at least a royalty to Microsoft.