Several years ago, MIT professor Nicholas Negroponte started a non-profit project called One Laptop per Child (OLPC) to help bring computing to poor children around the world. To their shame, Microsoft and Intel have tried to kill the idea. Bill Gates personally went out of his way to make disparaging remarks and Microsoft has done what it could to scuttle the project. The Wall Street Journal put it this way, “How a Computer for the Poor Got Stomped by Tech Giants“. Both Intel and Microsoft went into competition with OLPC by launching for-profit ventures to sell computing technology to developing nations.
Intel has softened its opposition somewhat and is now actually participating in the OLPC project to a certain degree. Intel’s objection stemmed from the fact that OLPC was using AMD chips (they were cheaper). And of course, Microsoft is dead set against anything that doesn’t use Windows and OLPC is a Linux machine.
Bill Gates is trying to make a name as a big giver to charity but there is no charity when it comes to Windows. Microsoft is a company where billions of dollars roll in routinely. How much could losing the profit on even 100 million low-cost machines for poor kids affect Microsoft’s bottom line? Gates and Ballmer could finance the OLPC project with their pocket change.