Bill Gates has rubbished the MIT $100 laptop computer developed for third world countries.

“The last thing you want to do for a shared-use computer is have it be something without a disk ... and with a tiny little screen”, Gates said at the Microsoft Government Leaders forum in Washington.

“Hardware is a small part of the cost” of providing computing capabilities, he said, adding that the big costs come from network connectivity, applications and support.

Developed with the backing of rival Google and the UN at the MIT, the laptop project seeks to provide inexpensive computers to people in developing countries.

“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”, Gates said.

Gates made his comments as he showed off the new Microsoft powered Ultra Mobile PC device launched at CeBIT last week.

The snub maybe based on the fact that MIT turned down the richest man in the world's offer to have the ultra cheap laptop be powered by Microsoft Windows. Instead the wind-up laptop will be powered by open source Linux.

Incidentally, the UMPC by manufacturers Samsung and ECS have a battery life of around 2 to 3 hours. Considerably shorter than the indefinite power supply offered by that cranking thing.