Intel Chairman Derides $100 Laptop

Intel's chairman chided plans by rival AMD and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to build a $100 laptop for the developing world. At a press conference in Sri Lanka on Friday, Craig Barrett said that potential computer users would scoff at the computer's lack of features.

Barrett also said the device isn't worthy of being called a laptop. "I think a more realistic title should be 'the $100 gadget'," he mused. "The problem is that gadgets have not been successful."

But the MIT laptop has received high marks from those who have seen it, and received the blessing of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Children in Brazil, Thailand, Egypt and Nigeria will be the first to start receiving the device beginning early next year.

The effort has even gained attention stateside; the state of Massachusetts is considering a $54 million plan to buy the laptops for every middle and high school student.

All of the $100 laptops will come preinstalled with the Linux operating system, supplied by Red Hat. However, any OS supporting AMD processors could be run on the unit, according to engineers. Software will include a Web browser, e-mail client, and programming software.

The device would be made available to the general public at a cost of $200, but it would be sold to governments at $100, with profits from the commercial side helping to fund the project.

Barrett pointed to similar schemes that have failed in the past as the reasoning for his comments. He claims that consumers are looking for a full-featured device, "not dependent on servers in the sky to deliver content and capability to them, not dependent for hand cranks for power."

Some may view the comments of the Intel chairman as a knee-jerk reaction to not being chosen to power the laptop, but throughout the press conference, Barrett kept returning to the meme that anything Intel would offer would be through a full-featured device.

Intel computers have traditionally cost more than their AMD counterparts, and cost played a major factor in choosing hardware for the MIT laptop project.

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