Suit may delay Lindows shipment
- By John K. Waters
A second preview version of the much-anticipated Lindows operating system shipped
last week, but users said the latest implementation still cannot run Microsoft
applications, the ultimate goal of creator Linux.com, and few expect a final
version to ship as scheduled this spring. The latest version has added new capabilities
for streamlining software installation, as well as for viewing and printing
non-Linux file formats.
The Lindows OS is based on Linux and a technology called WINE, which allows
Windows applications to run under Linux. When it is ready for prime time, Lindows
will offer a full-powered graphical desktop experience familiar to any computer
user, says company founder, Michael Robertson, who also founded the music site,
MP3.com, but with advanced underlying architecture to ensure greater reliability.
The first preview was released earlier this year, and Robertson has been promising
to launch the OS, carrying a price tag of $99, this spring. Robertson and his
small crew might be forgiven for the current delay due to a fairly large distraction
in the form of a lawsuit filed by Microsoft claiming the San Diego-based company
is infringing on the giant software maker's Windows trademark. Lindows.com filed
a motion to dismiss the Microsoft claim in January, arguing it has no presence
in Washington State, where Microsoft is headquartered, and transacts no business
there. Accordingly, the company asserts, the state has no jurisdiction over
Last month (March), Chief U.S. District Judge John Coughenour made a preliminary
ruling on the Microsoft suit, stating he has "serious questions regarding
whether 'Windows' is a non-generic name and thus eligible for the protections
of federal trademark law." In other words, Microsoft may not have exclusive
rights to the name "Windows" because it is too generic. Some may remember
a similar suit filed years ago by the makers of Miller Lite beer, who wanted
to protect their designation of their low-cal brew.
Other new features in the second "Sneak Preview" version of Lindows
include "Click-N-Run," described as an automated process for downloading
and installing software. It centers on a section of the Lindows Web site Robertson
says will ultimately contain a "warehouse of software titles," including
Windows apps. The site currently lists several downloadable applications that
will run on Lindows, including a word processor, spreadsheet creator and presentation
manager. All of these apps are from KOffice, a Linux productivity suite.
The new edition also comes with a pre-installed Web browser called Konqueror.
The browser comes with several plug-ins, including Flash, a digital music player,
and software for viewing and printing Office documents.
For more information, go to http://www.lindows.com.
John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached