Lindows opens subscriber information to Microsoft

Microsoft opponents who signed up for information on the latest competitor to Windows now find that their names and addresses have been handed over to the software giant
Written by Matthew Broersma, Contributor

In the latest twist in Microsoft's trademark lawsuit against Lindows, the Linux start-up has been compelled to hand over all of the personal information it has collected on users of its Web site, according to Lindows.

Microsoft sued Lindows last month, alleging that the company is purposefully trying to confuse its Linux-based LindowsOS with Microsoft Windows. Lindows, which will be officially launched this year, is an attempt to combine the advantages of Linux with the ability to run popular Microsoft applications.

"We feel obligated to disclose to you that we were compelled to disclose your email address to Microsoft during the discovery process as well as the content of many of your messages sent to us," wrote Lindows founder Michael Robertson in a message on the company's Web site.

While Microsoft is using the information only for legal proceedings, users of Lindows -- many of whom consider themselves ardent Microsoft opponents -- expressed dismay in online newsgroups that their contact details had been made available to the software company.

Separately, Robertson said the material turned over to Microsoft covered any address sent to the Web site, including requests for the company's newsletter and posts to the site's forum. It also included users' physical addresses.

Robertson said the information was to be used in determining whether a Washington court would have jurisdiction in the case. "Microsoft has said that we've done business in Washington and is trying to use the mailing list to prove it. Lindows.com has no presence in Washington and has done no business in Washington so (Washington) is not an appropriate venue," Robertson said in a statement.

Microsoft, based in Redmond, Washington, filed the suit last month in US Court for the Western District of Washington. Lindows is based in San Diego, California.

Microsoft has been involved in an increasingly fractious war of words with Linux supporters over the past year, with Microsoft executives castigating the open-source distribution model behind Linux as a sure road to commercial failure and a blight on software development.

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