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Keeping tabs on the $100-plus laptop

The system from the One Laptop per Child initiative remains a work in progress, facing rising costs and rumors of Windows.

Thursday's briefing by Nicholas Negroponte on the One Laptop Per Child initiative seems to have meant different things to different folks.

The Associated Press led with the rising price of the laptop, designed for school-age tots in developing nations ("'$100 laptop' to cost $175"), while the Reuters news agency focused on the potential for use closer to home ("U.S. schools may join inexpensive laptop project"). And The Boston Globe, for which the just-across-the-Charles-River OLPC is in part a local business story, got caught up with the laptop's sense of fun, style and mission ("It's cute, green--and may change world").

Nigeria gallery

The OLPC group says software efforts remain focused on the Linux operating system, even as some of the news reports suggested a looming role for Windows. And the price, backers say, will start to drop once high-volume manufacture and distribution are a reality.

For now, the system once touted as the "$100 laptop" remains very much a work in progress, with a little something for everybody--including schoolchildren in Nigeria who are already trying out the laptops.

Blog community response:

"Got to say, still excited about this project. Last time I held a computer class in the DR, a massive power surge nearly killed me when the computer in question was powered up... These little things should be able to take the abuse, and the unstable power grids of many of these developing countries. Still cannot wait until a consumer model is released, so I can prepair a few classes on them for next time I go down."
--Slashdot user Upaut

"Microsoft clearly doesn't want to see millions of OLPC machines running Linux and has now offered an alternative."
--Hardware 2.0

"The realities of manufacturing and designing mass market products has set in, but the result is still pretty good, don't you think? I saw a prototype a few weeks ago, and they ditched the crank now too. Hopefully they keep the wireless mesh."

"Negroponte does not try to compete on the market, he pushes his laptops through governments and schools on powerless students."