Although the Linux operating system has been around for 10 years now, its complexity and inability to run many popular applications have kept it from gaining a foothold in the mainstream PC market. But Michael Robertson, CEO of and founder and former CEO of, is hoping the LindowsOS will be the breakthrough product that will finally bring Linux into homes and the enterprise.

Designed with Windows users in mind
According to Robertson, LindowsOS has been designed as an easy migration path for current Windows users. “An existing Windows user… can literally download some software over the Internet, double-click, and 10 minutes later they’re running LindowsOS,” Robertson said in a Feb. 25, 2002, interview with CNN.

After the upgrade process completes, the LindowsOS desktop will resemble the user’s previous Windows desktop, including his or her wallpaper. Likewise, all of the user’s files and applications will still be accessible. However, accessible doesn’t equal fully compatible.

Targeted Windows application support
A key roadblock to creating a Windows alternative has been developing code that supports every existing Windows application. This has proven to be difficult, if not impossible. The LindowsOS developers are trying to bypass this problem by supporting only a few Windows programs, but supporting them well.

LindowsOS is being designed to support only the most popular Windows productivity software, such as Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer, AOL, and Quicken. While other Windows programs may run under LindowsOS, don’t bank on being able to run every new Windows application, especially games or software that’s outside the mainstream.

Removes Linux’s complexity
Most flavors of Linux are just too complicated for the average end user and can even frustrate the seasoned IT support pro. They can be difficult to install, and anyone who’s installed an application on a Linux workstation knows the process can be significantly more tedious than installing Windows software. LindowsOS is designed to make such tasks easier.

LindowsOS developers are reported to have dramatically simplified both OS and application installation. Although LindowsOS has yet to be released, the goal is to be able to install the operating system in 10 minutes or less. This would be a welcome change to the standard 45-minute Windows installation time.

To achieve such a quick installation, LindowsOS developers have kept their operating system lean. Windows contains many ancillary applications (Notepad, Sound Recorder, Solitaire, etc.) that aren’t essential to the operating system’s functionality. With LindowsOS, the operating system is designed to be small. However, if you want to install extras, you’ll be able to download them from the LindowsOS Web site.

Individually focused licensing
While Microsoft requires that you purchase a separate license for each computer on which you install Windows, LindowsOS is licensed to the user rather than the computer. Buy a single copy of LindowsOS, and you can install it on every computer you own.

Additionally, a LindowsOS license (currently at $99) is one-third the cost of a Windows XP Pro retail license ($299). Imagine a small personal business that is buying five new workstations. To install five new copies of Windows XP would cost nearly $1,500. To install five new copies of LindowsOS would cost only $99. But don’t jump for joy just yet.

Enterprises are less likely to see such extreme savings as Microsoft’s Open, Select, and Enterprise Licensing programs offer organizations significant savings over Windows’ retail price. In addition, you won’t be able to buy a single copy of LindowsOS and install it on 1,000 workstations. The LindowsOS license only covers computers “you own,” and unfortunately, doesn’t currently offer detailed volume-licensing information. They simply state that, “Users who supervise 10 or more PCs can apply for volume licensing….”

Take a look for yourself
LindowsOS 1.0 is scheduled for release later in 2002. You can learn more about the latest LindowsOS developments at For $99, you can also sign up to be a Insider that entitles you to sneak preview(s) of LindowsOS.

Join the debate

Do you believe LindowsOS will be a viable alternative to Windows? Would you run LindowsOS in your organization? Post a comment to this article and let us know what you think.