Lindows to hit retail shelves

With Christmas just around the corner, the consumer-friendly Linux distribution is readying its high street invasion

LindowsOS, the Linux-based operating system designed to attract non-technical Windows desktop users, could soon be hitting retail shelves., which began selling the operating system online and pre-installed on some PCs earlier this year, on Monday kicked off its retail effort, aiming to charm prospective retail partners with easy terms such as a five-unit minimum order.

One selling point may be LindowsOS' price tag: it retails for a suggested $129 (about £83), compared to about $200 for Windows XP Home Edition. Prices to retailers are low enough that companies such as Nova Computech is selling the operating system bundled with a complete PC for under $250 in the US. Nova is also joining the reseller programme. (See ZDNet UK's review of Lindows 2.0 here.)

In the UK, Evesham sells a PC with Lindows pre-installed for as low as £249.99 (see ZDNet UK's review of the Evesham PC here).

Other Linux distributions, such as those of SuSE and Mandrake, are available on store shelves. What makes Lindows different is that it is marketed specifically to newcomers to the computing world and those familiar with Windows; for example, the desktop icons and file locations are rearranged to look like the Windows operating system.

Resellers joining the programme will have access to LindowsOS 3.0 Membership Edition, which includes a year's membership to Lindows' online database of applications, an installation CD, manual, access to online support, a CD containing free applications and access to a downloadable version of LindowsOS. Resellers also get access to their own customer support and online account information.

Lindows chief executive Michael Robertson said there had been "overwhelming" demand for the reseller programme.

Industry analysts remain divided over whether Linux can defeat Windows on the desktop, as it must deal with Microsoft's stranglehold on the market. However, Linux is expected to continue doing well in the server market: analysts recently predicted that it will swallow Unix's market share and will become so prevalent that Microsoft will be forced to release its applications for the competing operating system.

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