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Give One Get One Program Extended; Microsoft and Intel Hope it Fails

Give One Get One Program Extended; Microsoft and Intel Hope it Fails

"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."
- Microsoft founder, Bill Gates, disparaging a feature on the XO that allows it to operate in parts of the world where electricity isn't a given.

November 27, 2007 —

The "Give One Get One" program we told you about in October has been extended until the end of the year. The promotion gives American consumers the opportunity to buy a great first computer for their kids, while donating one to a poor child in a developing nation.

When Nicholas Negroponte unveiled his design for the XO, a $100 laptop he hoped to put into the hands of 150 million children in the next five years, it seemed like the the invention might actually be capable of bridging the technological divide between the rich and poor countries of the world. The headlines have become significantly less positive in the last year, with sales lagging and the $100 dollar price goal seeming increasingly unlikely. Two years ago, Negroponte expected millions of orders from governments all over the world, which would have enabled him to negotiate lower prices for the production of the computer and get the technology into even more hands.

That's when Microsoft and Intel decided that they couldn't risking losing market share to a non-profit.

Intel developed its own low cost educational computer called the Classmate, which sells for between $230 and $300 and is capable of running Microsoft Windows—Microsoft has thus far refused to create a version of Windows that can run on OLPC. The companies began pressuring government leaders who had verbally committed to buy millions of XOs, warning them about the pitfalls of teaching their children on a computer that is incapable of running the world's most popular operating system.

Microsoft is under threat from the open source movement, so teaching millions of children worldwide to use a free, open source operating system is bad for business even if it's good for the world. As for Intel, it's main incentive to kill the OLPC is that the laptop uses chips made by its chief competitor, AMD. That these two companies worked so hard to prevent a non-profit computer company from bringing a generation of poor children into the information age seems more criminal than unethical.


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