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Negroponte tells software industry to slim down

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Nicholas Negroponte has criticized the software industry, including those building Linux, for churning out bloatware that slows down even the fastest PCs.

Negroponte, chairman of the One Laptop Per Child charity and co-founder of the MIT Media Laboratory, told LinuxWorld on Tuesday we have reached a point where each new release of software is successively worse than the one before it.

"In my opinion, every single new release of software is distinctly worse than the previous one. I just got the fastest laptop on the planet, it is the slowest, most unreliable machine I have ever had in my life," Negroponte said.

"People aren't thinking about small, fast, thin systems. Suddenly it's like a very fat person [who] uses most of the energy to move the fat. And Linux is no exception. Linux has gotten fat, too."

Negroponte blamed vendors for adding too many features to the software without thinking about the impact they would have on a PCs' performance.

Negroponte's charity is building a $100, Linux-based PC targeting children in developing nations - the goal is to ship up to 10m of the low-powered devices, which will get their energy from cranking a wind-up lever. That concept has been lambasted by Microsoft chief software architect Bill Gates who told the Negroponte demographic, some of who lack electricity or broadband connection, to "get a decent computer" instead.

Gates also helpfully explained it was software, in addition to network connectivity, that was the most expensive factor when manufacturing PCs. "Hardware is a small part of the cost," Gates told last month's Government Leaders' Forum in Washington.

In an apparent response to Gates and the power-hungry nature of Windows, Negroponte told LinuxWorld he'd joked for years how each time Intel releases a faster processor, Windows would gobble up even more of the hardware's power.

"Fifteen or 20 years ago I used to joke, you know what, every time Andy [Grove] makes a faster processor, Bill [Gates] uses more of it," he said. ®

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