Saturday, November 24, 2007

Is Mary's Little Computer Getting Mugged?

A page-one story (subscription) in today's Wall Street Journal reports Nicholas Negroponte's idea for the XO laptop (see preceding post) could fall victim of its own success. Microsoft and Intel don't take kindly to the notion of millions of kids using non-Windows computers:
From its inception, One Laptop Per Child posed a threat to the personal-computing dominance of software giant Microsoft and chip maker Intel. Mr. Negroponte's team, drawn from MIT, designed a machine that didn't use Windows or Intel chips. It uses the Linux operating system and other nonproprietary, open-source software, which users are allowed to tinker with.

Last year, Intel, which normally doesn't sell computers, introduced a small laptop for developing countries called the Classmate, which currently goes for between $230 and $300. It has marketed the computer aggressively, although it stands to make little money on the initiative. But it hopes to prevent rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc., or AMD, whose chips are in Mr. Negroponte's competing computer, from becoming a standard in the developing world.
This year, says the WSJ, Bill Gates announced Microsoft would offer developing countries a software package that includes Windows, a student version of Microsoft Office and educational programs. Total price? $3.00.

For a helpful comparison of Intel's Classmate and the XO, see this ars technica article.

Incidental intelligence: There's a Bull Market for XO laptops on eBay. This morning the bidding on one XO, to be delivered only after the seller, who participated in Give One, Get One, receives the machine, had climbed above $600!

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