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A Million Windows? - April 23, 2002

The next two weeks promise to be interesting ones as Microsoft ponies up people to testify in their court battles that a monopoly is a good thing for consumers, and by extension, that competition is a bad thing. The only thing more preposterous than that is their position that having multiple versions of an operating system is either technically impossible or economically impractical. Ironically, our small company, Lindows.com is doing what Microsoft says it cannot or will not do. Since those signed up for our Insiders program at www.lindows.com/signup receive early versions (as well as the final version when released later this year), they have witnessed this technology first hand. Let me explain.

At Lindows.com, we see a trend of cheaper computers leading to specialized computer usage. According to NPD Techworld, the average price of a PC late last year was $814. Between 1996 and 2001 Gartner Dataquest reported that PCs experienced an average annual drop in price of $211. This suggests that by the end of 2002, we should expect the average a consumer pays for desktop machine at $603. And remember, that's the AVERAGE. With every computer manufacturer already offering a sub-$600 package, many buyers will pay considerably less than the $603 average.

At these prices, homes with broadband can buy multiple machines - say one for each member of the family or one for different rooms of the house. Businesses can afford multiple computers for their employees. Each of these computers will have a much more narrow list of duties than the all-in-one PCs of the past. A computer someone buys for their 10 year old may only need a collection of chat and email programs similar to AOL. (Over half of U.S. homes today use AOL and many of them use AOL almost exclusively when they turn their computer on.) If I buy a computer for the security guard in my company, it only needs a couple of business type programs. I don't want the expense or added complexity of unnecessary technology like 3D virtual reality software. Instead the consumer should be able to pay only for what they will actually need and want. Anything else adds unnecessary complexity and cost, opens up more potential security vulnerabilities, and can slow down the machine.

With this trend in mind, LindowsOS comes with a minimal configuration, but can be easily supplemented with additional software to suit specific duties. Missing are many of the non-essential software programs - what the Department of Justice calls 'middleware.' Many of these are the same elements Microsoft claims they cannot remove from their OS. Of course, these programs are still available to LindowsOS users via the Click-N-Run Warehouse at www.lindows.com/warehouse some are free and some there will be a charge for. Each is downloaded, installed and ready to use with just a single mouse click. Instead of promoting our own software preferences on buyers, the Click-N-Run Warehouse will offer thousands of products and let the buyers decide which applications will suit them. (Today, if you try out LindowsOS SP2 at www.lindows.com/signup, you'll be able to see the Click-N-Run technology in action.)

The goal is to allow people to customize their operating system so that it suits their needs and pocketbook. They pay for only what they need. They install only what they use. The goal is to create many versions of our OS - the same thing Microsoft claims is untenable and will destroy the personal computer business. We imagine homework windows which students would customize for their needs. A teenager windows with programs suited for them. A preschool windows for little tykes. A receptionist windows with tools they might use. Yes, a world with a million versions of windows. That's what Lindows.com is bringing to the marketplace and exactly what is needed to energize the next wave of computing.

Special Note: I've received some information from some of you since our court case that Microsoft is sending cease and desist letters to products, companies and domain names which use any variation of the word "windows". I refer you to our legal papers at www.lindows.com/opposition for what we think of their legal position and encourage you to let others know publicly of Microsoft's tactics.

Michael Robertson,
CEO Lindows.com, Inc.
michaelr@lindows.com


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