Microsoft Teaming up to Improve $100 Laptops

By May 16, 2008

The One Laptop per Child project, that we already covered here, is teaming up with software giant Microsoft in hopes of bringing the incredibly inexpensive computers to more children worldwide. The non-profit group hoped that i

t could produce $100 laptops to sell inexpensively to developing countries around the world, but production and software problems have pushed the price to $188.

With a new partnership with Microsoft, One Laptop per Child hopes to produce better machines as well as use the company’s incredible distribution resources.

Many education ministers had concerns about the computers because they operate their own interface, called Sugar, on the open Linux operating system.

The new computers are operable with both Sugar and Windows, and new orders will have the option of buying computers with or without the Microsoft software.

The catch is that they are more expensive—almost doubling the initial goal of $100 for the computers. With Windows, the laptops cost $18-$20 more. Only $3 goes to Microsoft, with the rest covering the cost of hardware adjustments.

With Microsoft’s reputation and distribution possibilities, Nicholas Negroponte, the founder of the project, sees more laptops selling.

"There are now many more countries prepared to look at the XO and collaborative learning and some of the things we stand for," he said.

By now, the organization hoped to have sold millions of laptops, but to date only around 600,000 have been sold.

Initially, Microsoft as well as Intel expressed interested then distanced themselves from the project. Competition sales concerns were the primary factor, but with the new Microsoft partnership, One Laptop per Child hopes to be on course to deliver inexpensive computers to more children and promote both organizations in the process.

By Danny Scuderi
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