On Tuesday, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor Nicholas Negroponte kicked off Boston’s LinuxWorld conference by dismissing recent criticism of his One Laptop Per Child initiative and announcing that the project could begin distributing the PCs by early 2007, the AP reports via Boston.com.
The initiative is designed to improve the level of education in poor, underdeveloped nations by providing computers to children in those areas.
Software giants Microsoft and Intel recently blasted the machines that would be distributed as part of the project, namely the hand cranks that would power them and their lack of a hard disk drive.
“When you have both Intel and Microsoft on your case, you know you’re doing something right,” Negroponte told the audience of open-source software supporters, according to the AP.
Negroponte also announced a few changes to the design of the One Laptop Per Child computers; specifically, the hand crank used to power the machine will now be located on its AC power adapter instead of on the actual computer to avoid heavy wear and tear, the AP reports. Since the AC adapter is built to rest on the ground, the crank may be turned into a foot pedal for ease of use, according to the AP.
Companies such as Google, Advanced Micro Devices, Red Hat and Quanta Computer have all contributed to the One Child Per Laptop program, which has raised some $29 million.
Regardless, critics of the project say they’re unsure the device will actually lead to improved education systems in underdeveloped nations, the AP reports.
A few weeks ago, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates criticized the design of the machines, but people throughout the tech world speculate that Gates’ comments were fueled by his anger over the fact that the computers will run the open-source Linux operating system as opposed to Microsoft’s proprietary Windows system. For more, read Bill Gates Blasts MIT’s $100 Laptop.
Intel execs also took some potshots at the project, questioning its potential effect, and claiming the machines lack too many key PC functions, the AP reports.
Negroponte specifically addressed Gates’ comments, noting that the designers of the One Laptop Per Child computers are still working with Microsoft to create a version of Windows CE the laptops could run on, according to the AP.
“Geez, so why criticize me?” Negroponte asked the crowd, according to the AP.
Negroponte plans to ship 5 million to 10 million machines by early 2007 to such nations as China, India, Egypt, Brazil, Thailand, Nigeria and Argentina, the AP reports.
A handful of governments and other donor organizations will pay for the machines, for use in and out of a school setting, and they’ll be distributed by the United Nations, the AP reports.
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