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Gates balks at MIT's laptop for developing nations

According to Bill Gates, MIT has it wrong with the $100 laptop aimed at developing nations. Commenting at the Microsoft Government Leaders Forum in Washington, DC, Gates in one fell swoop bashed the $100 laptop project while at the same time bolstered the newly introduced Ultra Mobile PC (UMPC) platform. He remarked that the MIT laptop is practically useless because of its tiny display and lack of a hard drive.

"If you are going to go have people share the computer, get a broadband connection and have somebody there who can help support the user, geez, get a decent computer where you can actually read the text and you're not sitting there cranking the thing while you're trying to type," said Gates. Interestingly enough, one of the early complaints leveled against the UMPC has been its tiny screen and text.

Gates cleverly plugged the UMPC before he made his comments about the $100 laptop. UMPC devices will range in price from $600 to $1,000 and will include a 7" screen and a hard drive (one of Gates' sticking points with the MIT laptop).

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Looks like a concept laptop AMD concocted
By DallasTexas on 3/16/2006 2:47:59 PM , Rating: 2
The green is pretty bad, everything else is worse.

Is one suppose to crank and type at the same time as Gates says or is this a high end, multiuser version where on cranks and the other types?

RE: Looks like a concept laptop AMD concocted
By SGTPan on 3/16/2006 3:02:36 PM , Rating: 4
Yeah, it’s pretty easy to poke fun at this kind of thing isn't it? Something designed for people who will probably never lead a life of relative luxury as many of us do. It's easy to laugh at the idea of a hand crank because you've never been without running water, electricity, or shoes for that matter.

RE: Looks like a concept laptop AMD concocted
By DallasTexas on 3/16/06, Rating: 0
RE: Looks like a concept laptop AMD concocted
By bob661 on 3/16/2006 4:57:25 PM , Rating: 1
Negroponte publicity stunt.
We don't tolerate racists here!

RE: Looks like a concept laptop AMD concocted
By notposting on 3/16/2006 7:41:32 PM , Rating: 2
We don't tolerate racists here!

Where's the racist?

Nicholas Negroponte is a Greek-American computer scientist best known as founder and ex-director of Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab.

In November 2005, at the World Summit on the Information Society held in Tunis, Negroponte unveiled a $100 laptop computer designed for students in the developing world.

By TacoMan on 3/19/2006 10:04:22 PM , Rating: 2
It's called sarcasm...

RE: Looks like a concept laptop AMD concocted
By QueBert on 3/16/2006 5:45:58 PM , Rating: 2
you're an idiot who has no clue how the world works do you? I have been to dirt poor places, with no electricity, no running water, nothing. I'm not sure how much they'd care about a computer, but these are people who have little to nothing. No this isn't a uber rig, but it's target market are people who would probably cry if you gave them a used pair of sandels. They don't know the difference between intel and and. Ask them if they like Nvidia or ATI, they wouldn't know or care. Give them a $100 laptop and you got a start.

Bill is a greedy bitch, his overpriced, underpowered UMPC's or whatever they're called are nothing close to this. IN most of the countries this is targeted, $100 bucks is a large large sum of money. NOBODY in these countries could even fathom spending $600 on one of bill's devices.

I applaude everyone who's involved with this. They say something is better then nothing, and I'm sure anyone in a 3rd world country who got one of these would be way happier then I was when I got my X800.

RE: Looks like a concept laptop AMD concocted
By DallasTexas on 3/16/2006 8:35:31 PM , Rating: 1
"'re an idiot who has no clue how the world works do you? I have been to dirt .. blah blah.."

I've been to poor places too, Mother Teresa. The last thing they need is a crank powered personal computer. The US education system functioned just fine w/o personal computers 30 years ago. The argument for libraries with real PC's, connectivity, comfort and safe haven is what Gates & Co are promoting. I agree. The $100 crank PC is a terrible idea that has already been done and failed.

You are wrapped up with 'greedy bitch Bill' that you can't see a foot in front of you. re the UMPS, you have no idea what it is yet to are quick to dismiss it. If you did, you would find it makes far more sense to have a simplified GUI w/ touch screen than pushing a mouse and keyboard.

Anyway, what's the point in arguing this any further. You are more interested in promoting yourself than argue the point.

By psychobriggsy on 3/17/2006 7:41:39 AM , Rating: 2
You know, after 20 stories on this subject, I thought that people would have got it into their heads that this device isn't headed for Mali or Niger, it's heading to Brazil, Thailand and other SECOND-WORLD nations.

Nations where $100 is a lot of money still.

To us, it's the differences between buying a $20,000 car and a $120,000 car. Bill's small tablet computers are simply unaffordable to these countries, but they have water, they have food, they don't have books, and digital copies are 100 times cheaper than printing text books.

Some of these countries don't have electricity apart from cities and large villages. Yet one of the aims is to improve farming via teaching better methods on these systems. Hence the crank.

If you're not installing games or bloated applications, then you don't need gigabytes of hard drive space.

Bill doesn't have a clue about what he is talking about, apart from one will make him and his company more money, and the other could eventually lead to most of the world not using Microsoft software ever.

By Zoomer on 3/17/2006 9:10:09 AM , Rating: 2
This could be useful if they want to learn programming. Or something like that.

RE: Looks like a concept laptop AMD concocted
By SGTPan on 3/16/2006 5:55:40 PM , Rating: 2
If you want to help the education system, create internet libraries with REAL PC's - Intel and Microsoft PC's, attached to WiMax and with real instructors inside. This is a shameful AMD marketing stunt and Negroponte publicity stunt.

Brought to you by Wintel.

Oh and by the way... having a computer system designed (not OVER-DESIGNED) specifically for learning in developing countries is not an insult or an embarrassment to anyone. You however, are both.

By TiberiusKane on 3/16/2006 7:19:04 PM , Rating: 2

RE: Looks like a concept laptop AMD concocted
By stmok on 3/16/2006 6:13:41 PM , Rating: 2
DallasTexas, you are a natural born Microsoft MORON.

You take it up the butt from Gates as well?

He's your father, isn't he?

By DallasTexas on 3/16/2006 8:18:47 PM , Rating: 1
What a pathetic bunch of AOl refugees in here. No depth in arguing a point and crutch any response with the typical vulgarity to amuse their friends.


I am dissapointed in Bill
By Netscorer on 3/16/2006 8:29:16 PM , Rating: 2
It would be one thing if some MS rep would bash this project. Now that I would totally understand.
But when Bill Gates, who wants to go into history as the biggest philanthropist ever, starts poking fun at it and instead promoting that stupid UMPC or whatever, this speaks volumes about his priorities.

RE: I am dissapointed in Bill
By mindless1 on 3/16/2006 8:43:35 PM , Rating: 2
Being the biggest philanthropist ever is not something he should be proud of, it's merely in the context of how much he's earned. To many people, giving $100 a year would be a far greater gift than what Bill does. It's not what you give, it's how much you keep for yourself. Nothing wrong with having a good life but not at others' expense.

RE: I am dissapointed in Bill
By kkwst2 on 3/16/2006 10:33:03 PM , Rating: 2
That's silly. How is Gates making money at others' expense any more than, say, Steve Jobs? All companies make money at someone else's expense.

Of course Gates has tons of money, but most of it is in stock, and he's the biggest philanthropist even when you compare it to his wealth. He certainly gives away a higher percentage of his wealth than Jobs or Ellison or whoever else you can think of. Regardless of what you think of his company or business practices, he makes a great effort to give back where he sees fit. Trying to minimize that seems petty.

He brings up valid reservations about the $100 machines. I also think the money would be much better spent on libraries with useful computers. Someone mentioned teaching someone to fish instead of giving them fish. But I don't think you can fish with a hand-cranked laptop. Perhaps a library where they can go to read (in a book or on the internet) about new fishing techniques, irrigation systems, etc. would be more useful. You may not agree, but it's not a completely invalid point, and you can't (or at least shouldn't) just dismiss it as sour grapes over not having his OS on the computer. Would he rather it use Windows? Sure, but that doesn't mean he's wrong that it's misguided.

As important as computers are in our lives, I have a hard time seeing their relevance in the lives of the target audience. There is a progression to development in a society, and I'm not sure you can go straight from almost complete illiteracy to technologically savvy overnight. There are steps in between, and I'm not sure how much of a role hand-cranked laptops would effectively play in this process.

RE: I am dissapointed in Bill
By SGTPan on 3/17/2006 2:16:21 AM , Rating: 2
In Bosnia, my the company I was in at the time built a 2400 sq ft library with computers and internet access for a village... six days after we left, Serb rebels came and took the computers and burned the library to the ground. Who would keep these "Learning Centers" from the same fate in developing countries where law and order are often as scarce as electricity and internet access?

RE: I am dissapointed in Bill
By SGTPan on 3/17/2006 2:16:44 AM , Rating: 2
In Bosnia, the company I was in at the time built a 2400 sq ft library with computers and internet access for a village... six days after we left, Serb rebels came and took the computers and burned the library to the ground. Who would keep these "Learning Centers" from the same fate in developing countries where law and order are often as scarce as electricity and internet access?

RE: I am dissapointed in Bill
By TomZ on 3/17/2006 5:55:37 PM , Rating: 2
All companies make money at someone else's expense.

No, I don't think so! Companies make money in exchange for giving you a product and/or service that you want or need. Bill Gates did not get rich at the expense of anybody - he got rich by providing software to people who needed it.

Why not donate?
By Fox5 on 3/16/2006 2:23:37 PM , Rating: 2
Why not donate old hardware to these nations? There's plenty of outdated PC hardware here that no one uses anymore, ship over those Tandy 486's and what not, wouldn't that cut down on hardware costs even more?

RE: Why not donate?
By THEREALJMAN73 on 3/16/2006 2:33:21 PM , Rating: 2
It's power requirements that are the biggest issue.
Not the hardware.

RE: Why not donate?
By SGTPan on 3/16/2006 2:55:19 PM , Rating: 2
These MIT computers are designed with the poorest of the poor nations in mind; where things like the lack of reliable electricity (if any) would make donating old computers useless. The $100 price point is crucial, because they're going to be bought by the hundreds of thousands and up, by the governments of developing countries for their people. In more privlaged parts of the world, Gates is right about the need for a better screen and HD support. But do you think an Education Minister is going to want to spend $600-$1000 USD on a unit for young students (many of which would have no way to use it after the first time the battery completely discharged) as opposed to a $100 one that needs no external power?

RE: Why not donate?
By marvdmartian on 3/16/2006 3:08:36 PM , Rating: 2
Let's think about this as well. If I'm buying computers for developing nations that at least have enough infrastructure to give me power for a pc, why would I buy a UMPC, for $600 to $1000, when you can probably strike one heckuva deal with Dell (for, say, refurbished full sized pc systems), and get 2 full systems for the price of one UMPC??

Guess ol' Billy Bazillionaire forgot that little point, eh?

Bottom line? $100 pc's are designed for places without even basic infrastructure, where there's not going to be a wall outlet to plug in the power adaptor for his UMPC's to recharge (or batteries to put in to replace depleted ones......or however the silly little things are powered). Hand cranked machines are the easiest, and likely cheapest, method to power one of these things (and with a one minute of cranking giving 10 minutes of power, you won't be cranking and typing too often, Billy boy!).

Typical BG........oh so brilliant, and yet, oh so dumb!

RE: Why not donate?
By brshoemak on 3/16/2006 7:08:46 PM , Rating: 3
ship over those Tandy 486's and what not

no way I'm giving up my Tandy 486SX. let's just fit a keyboard on an iPod nano with some solar cells on the back, but don't touch my Tandy!

poor baby
By sprockkets on 3/16/06, Rating: 0
RE: poor baby
By bunnyfubbles on 3/16/2006 2:57:29 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly, because it doesn't include a windows OS he's bashing it. Developing countries growing up on an OS other than windows will probably stay that way if they get out of the periphery.

He’s also trying to appeal to those who were interested in their own $100 laptop just because of the price and portability, so he’s promoting an actual product that will be available to them. I’m not sure exactly what he’s trying to do. It’s obvious the $600-1000 UMPCs will be well out of reach of the targeted niche of the $100 laptop. Why he’s bashing it just seems strange, like he thinks it’s a real threat to the UMPC, but it’s not because its not targeted at the same user. So that leaves one conclusion about his thoughts on the $100 laptop, and it would be the fact that it doesn’t run M$ software.

RE: poor baby
By creathir on 3/16/2006 4:24:29 PM , Rating: 2
This is the greatest philanthropist that has ever lived... and you think he is that petty? I highly doubt that.

The question comes down to is this something that is WORTH THE MONEY. $100 US dollars may seem CHEAP for Americans (relatively speaking) but that can be as much as an entire year of income in some of the nations this thing is targeting. Maybe their problem is not that they do not have computers, but instead, that they lack fundamental needs (food, water, basic education...)
Some argue that this computer is used for the kids, but tell me, when was the last time you needed a computer to learn to read, write, or do math? Some argue that it allows outdated text books to be replaced quickly, but what good is that if they cannot even read in the first place? This computer is a HUGE scam on the part of some MIT grads and PC component manufactures. Requiring 1,000,000 units per order... Just think of the amount of MONEY needed to buy these things... What could it be spent on besides an unneeded play thing?

Next will come the people slamming me for getting it wrong and describing the wrong market for this device. Who is it for then?
It has a hand crank which must mean it is for non-electrified areas...
What area that does not have SOLID electricity is an area that could make use of blowing what could be deemed as a large amount of money? The last time I checked, electricity was fairly prevalent in most upper, low wealth nations. So if they can afford electricity, their standard of living is probably fairly high. However, if electricity is totally absent, I would think other concerns would be in existence.
Such as:

Heating for the winter (could be offset by fire)
Food preparation
Water (unless they live next to a body of water or a natural well)
Basic communication (telephone-telegraph)

Given that governments have to purchase these things, or at least private entities with $100 million to spare, I would say that a number that large, if it is readily available, could go much farther for the greater common good to build power infrastructure than to allow little Timmy Tom to be able to read an electronic version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

- Creathir

RE: poor baby
By bob661 on 3/16/2006 4:59:07 PM , Rating: 2
This is the greatest philanthropist that has ever lived... and you think he is that petty? I highly doubt that.
He's still and a man and men can get damn petty. Money doesn't change basic human nature.

RE: poor baby
By mindless1 on 3/16/2006 8:36:20 PM , Rating: 2
Money can often change human nature, it takes a particularly greedy person to have several billion dollars already and still be thinking about how to maximize profit at others' expense.

Bill has on rose-colored glasses for sure so in his world, it may seem correct to shun this laptop. Pity is if he really thought they needed his vision of a laptop, instead of spending the time trying to market his vision for profit, he too could've been trying to make a version he thought was appropriate at minimum cost for those nations that need one. It might not have been a bad long term strategy either, taking a loss on a laptop just to cause windows to infiltrate the next generation of users, grow a giant user base in emerging countries.

Intel even...
By Marlin1975 on 3/16/2006 3:04:56 PM , Rating: 2
Yep intel even does not like it. Of course it has a AMD chip.
Now Bill does not like it. Of course it does not run a MS OS.

I guess hard drive makers will be next to come out and say it sucks.

How does this make sense?
By White Widow on 3/16/2006 3:46:06 PM , Rating: 2
Now, I am no socio-economist with tons of development experience, but it seems to me that the millions of dollars that will be spent on these could be MUCH better used. I have nothing against computers and connectivity as part of modern education, but these systems are tagretted at people at the bottom of the developing world, where the lack of basic necessities (clean water, electricity, sanitation) are a much bigger problem than kids not knowing how to setup wifi and IM with their adhoc networks. Again, I might be missing the grand virtue of these things, but it just semes like a huge and wisguided waste.

RE: How does this make sense?
By egrefen on 3/16/2006 4:21:49 PM , Rating: 2
You're thinking kids in a village learning how to use a word processor when the money could be spent giving them food. From that point of view, you're right.

But what I give one or two of these to every village, allowing people to organize themselves more efficiently and keep records, hopefully reducing misuse of water and keeping better communication with health organizations/NGOs/other villages/etc...

It could have a positive impact on par with spending money on food/clean water/etc...

RE: How does this make sense?
By Netscorer on 3/16/2006 8:22:05 PM , Rating: 2
Remember the saying:

Give a man a fish and you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish and you have fed him for a lifetime

Strikes a bell?

I am not saying that we should pat ourselves on the back after giving this $100 laptop and forget about poor nations. But the people behind the project thought about the way how they could use their knowledge to the best of their ability be able to help these people.

Of course he'd bad mouth the project
By Saist on 3/16/2006 3:54:33 PM , Rating: 2
Bill Gates going off about the OLPC program isn't surprising, and it's for the same reason Intel through dirt on the project. It's purely out of spite.

Both Microsoft /and/ Apple approached MIT and offered their respective operating systems for FREE for the project. MIT's response? No thank you. Why did MIT turn down both Microsoft and Apple? The stated reason is that the OLPC is supposed to be a relevant and useful system. It also is intended to teach developing countries about computer systems, giving full access to every part of the operating system to the user.

Considering that Bill Gates company produces a monolithic legacy operating system that is far from relevant in any development sense, it's little wonder he would be angry at being called down on the status of his operating system.

Just the same as Intel, who was passed over due to the extreme heat and power consumption of the current processor line, had some rude words to say, it shouldn't be of any surprise that Bill Gates would downplay a project that he is not involved in.

It's petty.

It's spiteful.

And it sure is funny to watch Bill blabber on and on.

RE: Of course he'd bad mouth the project
By TomZ on 3/16/2006 4:06:01 PM , Rating: 2
monolithic legacy operating system that is far from relevant in any development sense

Pretty funny that you would refer to Windows in this way. Are you more fond of OS-X, Linux, or Unix? What is the heritage, age, and architecture of those systems?

Far from relevant in any development sense? Any idea how many companies and programmers develop apps for Windows? Any idea of the commercial significance of this?

What world do you live in?

By RogueLegend on 3/16/2006 5:12:07 PM , Rating: 2
You obviously missed half of his argument- allow me to re-iterate.

The purpose of this is to teach them and make available every part of the OS for education. Can you tell me how likely MS is to make their source code available? Now can you tell me the reason why they won't make it available? (hint $$)

As for developing apps for Windows- do you have any idea how much common applications (to us, such as MS Office) would cost to these nations still under development. Especially with the advent of software as a service to increase revenue, it doesn't make sense to go with an architecture that demands more money just to make it useful (WinXP doesn't come with development tools or even useful word processing tools) and requires enormous amounts of storage to function (MS Word has become a very bloated word processing app).

The commercial significance means nothing if the people cannot purchase it. If every copy of WinXP in America cost $100,000, each copy of MS Office cost $250,000, and each copy of Visual Studio 2005 costs $350,000 in today's world, the commercial significance of how many developers devleop for it DO NOT F***ING matter.

Lets pile on top of that the fact that XP, Office, and VS are not designed to work with the OMPC, they require a good size swap file in addition to the initial storage for installation.

However- open source apps are free, and they can be re-designed to work on this PC- do you think old Billy boy is going to redesign VS studio around the OMPC without someone paying a heafty price tag?

Commercial significance means nothing if the people cannot afford it in the first place. They live in a different world than you do, you cannot apply your world's principles upon it.

$600 to $100?
By collegeguypat on 3/16/2006 2:18:23 PM , Rating: 5
ooh, a $100 UMPC, I'm in for one... unless its a misprint and actually $1000, then I'm not.

RE: $600 to $100?
By mezrah on 3/16/06, Rating: 0
RE: $600 to $100?
By PatrickL on 3/16/06, Rating: 0
RE: $600 to $100?
By Googer on 3/16/06, Rating: -1
Errors and comment
By Staples on 3/16/2006 2:19:03 PM , Rating: 2
There are two typos in this article.

"UMPC devices will range in price from $600 to $100 and will include a 7" screen and a hard drive (one of Gates' sticking points with the MIT laptop)."

And one earlier where Gates was bashing the $100 PC because it had (not had not) a tiny screen and no hard drive.

Anyway, I wonder if he'd badmouth a $250 Linux PC for developing nations.

RE: Errors and comment
By Googer on 3/16/2006 5:12:20 PM , Rating: 2
He is bashing it because it does not have windows and hence he has no control over it. With several these in the hands of several billion all running linux, he should be scared.

I guess that rich men do not use hand cranked radio's that were invented for and have been super successful in poor parts of Africa.

click image to enlarge
By timmiser on 3/17/2006 6:49:42 PM , Rating: 2
Am I the only one found this extremely funny under BG's picture?

RE: click image to enlarge
By TacoMan on 3/19/2006 10:12:15 PM , Rating: 2
Micro-soft (adj.) needs cialis

What do you expect?
By stmok on 3/16/2006 6:15:06 PM , Rating: 2
Of course Gates will play the MIT solution down!


(1) It doesn't use a Microsoft Operating System.
(2) So it can promote its own solution.
(3) Acceptance of MIT's solution in Africa and other developing nations means no potential profit (if any) for Microsoft.
(4) It uses Linux. Gates HATES Linux. :)

and finally...

(5) Its standard Microsoft behaviour to publically be-little competing products that it doesn't favour/support. Look at the nonsense they spat about Blue-ray? OpenOffice? Etc, etc.

They asked: "Where do you want to go today?"
My response: "Away from you."

"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes
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