p2p news / p2pnet: There’s a 21st century system purpose-designed help put millions of poor people, with the emphasis on children, in touch with each other and the rest of the world.
It’s the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab’s $100, Linux-powered wireless laptop, and you’d think the various tech companies, already far richer than the most of the countries they’ll eventually be fighting to supply, would be falling over themselves to get involved.
But that’s not the way it is, as the New York Times‘ John Markoff stresses.
In fact, since Media Lab head Nicholas Negroponte unveiled his One Laptop Per Child prototype, he’s, "found himself wrestling with Microsoft and the politics of software," says Markoff’s story.
‘Yar boo sucks’ was a school-boy expression popular in some older UK comics. Translated, it becomes, roughly, ‘Fck You!’ – which is more or less what Bill and the Boyz seem to be saying to Negroponte.
"He failed to reach an agreement with Microsoft on including its Windows software in the laptop, leading Microsoft executives to start discussing what they say is a less expensive alternative," says the NYT, "turning a specially configured cellular phone into a computer by connecting it to a TV and a keyboard".
Microsoft vp and cto Craig J. Mundie said although Microsoft was still developing the idea, “both he and Mr. Gates believed that cellphones were a better way than laptops to bring computing to the masses in developing nations”. And that’s because in places where TV’s are already common, “turning a phone into a computer could simply require adding a cheap adaptor and keyboard”.
Negroponte’s $100 hand-cranked laptop has the United Nations behind it, and Quanta Computer, the company that’s actually making it, says it’ll start shipment in the fourth quarter of 2006, "and turn out five to 15 million US$100 laptop computers each year".
And it’ll run on an AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) chip.
The NYT says Negroponte’s Media Lab research group had, "experimented with the idea of a cellphone that would project a computer display onto a wall and also project the image of a keyboard, sensing the motion of fingers over it. But the researchers decided the idea was less practical than a laptop."
Gates, meanwhile, hasn’t even decided much his as-yet undeveloped phone would cost.
Negroponte said he’d, "raised $20 million to pay for engineering and was close to a final commitment of $700 million from seven nations – Thailand, Egypt, Nigeria, India, China, Brazil and Argentina – to purchase seven million of the laptops," says the story, adding:
"According to several people familiar with the discussions, Microsoft had encouraged Mr. Negroponte to consider using the Windows CE version of its software, and Microsoft had been prepared to make an open-source version of the program available.
"Steven P. Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, had also offered a free version of his company’s OS X operating system, but Mr. Negroponte rejected that idea because the software was largely not open-source, meaning users could not get free access to software and its source code, which they could then modify."
"I chose open-source because it’s better," Markoff has Negroponte saying. "I have 100 million programmers I can rely on."
New York Times – Microsoft Would Put Poor Online by Cellphone, January 30, 2006
behind it – $100 laptop wins UN backing, January 28, 2006
making it – Quanta to build MIT $100 laptop, December 15, 2005