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I had lunch recently with a major record label executive, and we discussed April 25th, 2003 - the day the music industry's worst nightmare came true. A Federal court ruling found that peer-to-peer file sharing (P2P) companies are "not significantly different from companies that sell home video recorders." Judge Stephen Wilson was equating P2P with the landmark Betamax case, and in so doing effectively legalized file-sharing, or at least the companies that produce the software. (Recently a Dutch court came to a similar conclusion.) My lunch partner paused between bites of pasta when I asked him about it. He said that he held out a sliver of hope of overturning it on appeal, but if that didn't succeed, then the music industry would be resigned to living with P2P and it would fundamentally change their business. 

As painful as it may be to acknowledge for digital-content-based businesses - P2P is here to stay. Ultimately, the music industry will have to adapt their business to leverage P2P, as will the movie business and my own industry, the software business. Companies must alter their strategies to swim with the tide rather than waste energy in a futile attempt to halt it. Yes, end-user lawsuits may temporarily slow adoption, but the next generation of P2P software will simply make it difficult or impossible to track individual users. is going to start swimming with the P2P tide by officially making some of our software available on P2P systems. We are going to make available LindowsLive!, the latest version of our popular LindowsOS software that runs entirely from a CD, on several of the most popular file sharing networks. (LindowsLive! is a great way for people to try out Linux on any computer without doing an install.) Previously, we have sold this product for $29.95. Starting today, we are making it available officially and legal for free via P2P. No, we haven't lost our minds. What we're doing is figuring out how we can take advantage of P2P to advance our own business.

Check out the Degreez BitTorrent client from CNR
Today, P2P systems have two major benefits - a large number of users and an ultra-low cost way to deliver files. In 2004, will spend well over $100,000 in bandwidth charges for delivery of CD images of our software called "ISOs" (which people can use to construct an installation CD for LindowsOS). By allowing people to download LindowsLive from P2P networks instead from our servers, we hope to reduce those costs. At the same time, we'll be exposing millions of users on file-sharing networks to LindowsOS all at a minimal cost. Hopefully, those users will purchase other products and services from, such as CNR (click and run), web-filtering, virus software or one of the many Click-N-Buy (CNB) games or programs.

Check out LimeWire in the CNR Warehouse

P2P systems continue to make advancements in ease-of-use, and performance and there are several popular P2P programs available via CNR for LindowsOS users. LimeWire is an easy-to-use program to search the "gnutella" network for many different types of files. Degreez is a great program for using "BitTorrent" to download large files, and is the newest file-sharing system in CNR.

No matter which program you use, next time do a search for "LindowsLive" and you'll see the power of P2P helping build

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