Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Wednesday 10/04/2002Lindows is attracting attention these days: a hot idea, running Windows software on Linux, together with some initial success in fending off the inevitable Microsoft legal attack, has guaranteed the product a place in the spotlight.Well, it would - if there was a product.

Wednesday 10/04/2002

Lindows is attracting attention these days: a hot idea, running Windows software on Linux, together with some initial success in fending off the inevitable Microsoft legal attack, has guaranteed the product a place in the spotlight.

Well, it would - if there was a product. There's a lot of posturing, and there's a semi-secret 'preview' programme where you pay $99 for some pre-beta code - and no source -- and promise not to tell. But there's no open beta. There's something called Click'n'Run (wasn't that an Aardman Animations film?) which promises to deliver applications software over the Net - jolly nice, but where's the star of the show? Why no OS?

The cynical might imagine that this is because the software doesn't work, and I certainly find no reason to disbelieve that. Even badly broken and criminally immature Linux software is usually available for the pathologically curious to poke, so Lindows' absence is telling. And if you ask around enough, you'll find some testers who are prepared -- off the record -- to look sorrowful and hold up the fingers of one hand if asked how many Windows apps last longer than a microsecond.

But for me, the real clincher is that Microsoft -- who, one assumes, has had no problems getting hold of the code -- isn't really worried. The moment Microsoft thinks that a workable Windows-compatible Linux is on the way no matter what, it'll do one of its own. Or encourage others to do so. Or do whatever it has to do, to keep some measure of control: until that point, it's too early to worry about Lindows. After that point, of course, it'll be too late.

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