Lindows has announced it plans to distribute its LindowsLive operating system for free via peer-to-peer networks.
LindowsLive allows people to run a Linux-based operating system from a CD, without installing it on their computer, and previously retailed for $29.95 (£16.36). The product was also sold over the Internet in a form that could be burned to a CD.
"No, we haven't lost our minds," said Lindows chief executive and founder Michael Robertson in a newsletter. "What we're doing is figuring out how we can take advantage of P2P to advance our own business." Robertson said Lindows.com would spend over $100,000 in bandwidth charges to deliver software used to create installation CDs for LindowsOS.
"By allowing people to download LindowsLive from P2P networks instead from our servers, we hope to reduce those costs," said Robertson. "At the same time, we'll be exposing millions of users on file-sharing networks to LindowsOS all at a minimal cost. Hopefully, those users will purchase other products and services from Lindows.com, such as CNR (click and run), web-filtering, virus software or one of the many Click-N-Buy (CNB) games or programs."
Lindows has a running legal battle with Microsoft over the name of the company, which the litigation-happy behemoth claimed infringes a Microsoft trademark. There was also bad blood over MSFreePC.com, a Web site set up by Lindows to allow consumers owed a refund from the $1.1bn settlement Microsoft made last year to lodge their forms online. Earlier this month, a judge ruled against the Web site, forcing it to be removed.
The move by Lindows will also help the fledgling peer-to-peer industry, which is trying to legitimise the software as an effective and profitable way of distributing legal content to consumers.