One of the keepers of the Ubuntu software respositories (called MOTUs, or Masters of the Universe) has proposed a mainstream inclusion of Wine with Ubuntu. For any of you unfamiliar with Wine, it is a body of software that allows Linux users to run a variety of Windows applications. WineHQ summarizes:
Wine is a translation layer (a program loader) capable of running Windows applications on Linux and other POSIX compatible operating systems. Windows programs running in Wine act as native programs would, running without the performance or memory usage penalties of an emulator, with a similar look and feel to other applications on your desktop.
Wine allows applications ranging from Accelerated Reader to Examview to Logger Pro to run on a Linux box. A complete list of Windows educational applications enabled with Wine is available here.
Obviously, making Wine easily-accessible to Linux users would bring down a significant barrier to its adoption.
According to Neowin.net,
This does not mean the Wine would be installed by default but instead that, on clicking an executable file, the user would be prompted if they want to install Wine. An automatic install would follow, similar to what is already done for codecs in Ubuntu.
The proposed inclusion of Wine certainly makes sense for Ubuntu, largely considered the mainstream Windows alternative of choice (next to OS X). It also means that users of netbooks won't necessarily have to run Windows XP Home to access educational applications. Instead, as Wine continues to mature and see increased adoption and integration with Ubuntu, Linux netbooks become far more realistic. So, in fact, do DIY labs, saving licensing fees on operating systems, even if the fees can't be saved on some proprietary software used in your school system.