WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Microsoft Corp. Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates on Wednesday mocked a $100 laptop computer for developing countries being developed with the backing of rival Google Inc. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The $100 laptop project seeks to provide inexpensive computers to people in developing countries. The computers lack many features found on a typical personal computer, such as a hard disk and software.
“The last thing you want to do for a shared use computer is have it be something without a disk … and with a tiny little screen,” Gates said at the Microsoft Government Leaders Forum in suburban Washington.
“Hardware is a small part of the cost” of providing computing capabilities, he said, adding that the big costs come from network connectivity, applications and support.
Before his critique, Gates showed off a new “ultra-mobile computer” which runs Microsoft Windows on a seven-inch touch screen.
Those machines are expected to sell for between $599 and $999, Microsoft said at the product launch last week.
“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,” Gates said.
Gates described the computers as being for shared use, but the project goes under the name “One Laptop per Child.” A representative for the project did not immediately reply to an inquiry seeking comment.
Earlier this year, Google founder Larry Page said his company is backing MIT’s project. He showed a model of the machine that does use a crank as one source of power.
“The laptops … will be able to do most everything except store huge amounts of data,” according to the project’s Web site.