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Lindows.com, a company headed up by Michael Robertson, founder of the MP3.com music Web site, is developing Lindows OS, an operating environment based on the Wine project, which allows Windows applications to be run natively under Linux. This promises to give users the familiar graphical desktop experience of Windows applications without the need to own a copy of Windows.
One reason why Linux has been largely restricted to niche technical server markets is its lack of familiar applications. "The most popular personal productivity applications are not available for Linux even though other packages are available which basically do the same thing," explained Dan Kusnetzky, vice-president for system software at analyst firm IDC. "So, a typical business person is not likely to be interested in Linux on his or her desktop."
Lindows.com is hoping to reverse this trend and provide some much needed competition for Microsoft. "For too long there has been little competition in the operating system arena and users have paid the price with buggy and expensive software," said Robertson. "Lindows OS gives users a migration path to a new operating system which promises to be full-featured and user friendly."
Kusnetzky said the Wine project has done a "remarkable job" of getting applications such as Office to run on Linux. But he warned that this approach is likely to produce environments that are not certified to run the applications and said there is a danger that third-party application providers would not recognise or support them.
Lindows OS Preview Release will be available for testing in a few weeks and will become commercially available for "under $100" early next year.