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Japan and Video

One of the areas where desktop Linux has been a second class citizen is in video playback. It has been almost impossible to play many of the popular types of video (DVD, Microsoft Windows Media, QuickTime, etc.) while running Linux...until now! More on how we've made that possible in LindowsOS 4.0 later. But first, an update on Japan:

I last visited Japan 3 years ago while on MP3.com business and found them in the dark ages when it came to 'Net access, so I was surprised at what I saw last week. In 2000, broadband in Japan was virtually nonexistent - it was all archaic dial-up Net access. I couldn't have imagined a more dramatic change than what I witnessed a few days ago. High-speed 10MB DSL Internet service is widely available for as little as $20 a month, which is roughly half the price and many times faster than the 1.5MB Optical fiber that is commonplace in homes in the United States. ISPs in Japan deliver mind-blowing 100MB business service for just $40 a month. Tokyo computer stores sign up customers for broadband access like US stores do for cellular service. Demo plasma TVs in the showroom stream full-screen video over the Internet while you do the paperwork. There are now more broadband homes in Japan than in the US, and of course my hotel room had broadband. Japan has clearly leapfrogged the US in broadband deployment.


Meeting with EDGE CEO Takafumi Horie

The purpose for my trip was not to test Japanese Internet access, but rather to launch the Japanese version of LindowsOS with our exclusive partner there, EDGE. At the end of August, LindowsOS 4.0 will be made available to Japanese customers in their native language, pre-installed on computers, in retail stores and for digital purchase. A press conference was held to brief reporters from newspapers, computer magazines and other media outlets about how choice is coming back to the PC business in Japan in the form of a Japanese LindowsOS. A beta version was demonstrated and is currently being distributed to Japanese beta testers.


Japanse LindowsOS in action!

The response from reporters and Microsoft at the formal launch of the Japanese LindowsOS was similar to what we witnessed in the US. The press is keenly aware of the monopolistic position that Microsoft has used to overcharge Japanese consumers. They are eager to hear about fresh competition which will put a more affordable choice on the store shelf. Many of the reporters I met with had actually downloaded and tested the beta (that was released the night before), and were prepared with precise questions from their experience. Meanwhile, Microsoft was up to the same dirty tactics that we have seen in the US. While they speak publicly about welcoming competition, behind the scenes they're doing everything they can to throw up roadblocks. In fact, Microsoft pressure forced us from the initial venue for the press conference...which actually worked out well, because the second facility had more room for the overflowing crowd of 130 reporters. Examples have also surfaced about Microsoft's efforts to move our partners' displays to less desirable store locations in anticipation of the retail release of LindowsOS. I told our partner in Japan to expect more underhanded Microsoft actions like those we've had to deal with in the US.

Japan's amazing adoption of broadband and their love for new technology makes them ideally suited for LindowsOS. Click-N-Run technology is all about digital distribution, and it is truly amazing how quickly even the largest software programs download, install and are ready for use over 100MB net connections. Since we make all parts of LindowsOS digitally available, including all minor and major OS updates, there's even more use for that digital fiber that's becoming more popular every day. We're hopeful that with Edge's efforts and Japan's openness to new technology, in a few years LindowsOS adoption in Japan will be higher than in the US, just as they've done with broadband.


LindowsOS playing QuickTime, Windows Media Video and a DVD!

I mentioned at the outset that we've been working to improve LindowsOS' ability to do video, and I'm proud to announce the availability of several new software programs I'm sure you'll find useful. Until now, I've been frustrated that I haven't been able to watch QuickTime movie trailers or video clips from news.com with LindowsOS. Our new software, and the plug-ins that we've incorporated, now allow you to play just about any video file from just about anywhere. Just Click-N-Run MPlayer from the Warehouse and you'll instantly have the ability to play many popular video formats, even those which run inline (in the middle of a web page). After you've installed MPlayer from Click-N-Run, visit lindows.com/filetypes, which shows off the many video formats which LindowsOS can handle.

For those wishing to play DVD movies on Linux, we're offering a licensed DVD player to play encrypted DVDs. It costs just $4.95 for Lindows Plus owners (full members of the Click-N-Run Warehouse), and installs with a single mouse click (as does all of our Click-N-Run software). This is the first product of its kind available for Linux and it costs just a fraction of popular Microsoft Windows DVD players, which retail for more than $50. The next time I spend 11 hours flying to Japan, I'll be able to watch DVDs on my laptop. Finally, if you're in the market for a DVD-ready PC, several are available from a LindowsOS retailer like iDOT or TigerDirect. These machines come with not only a DVD drive, but all the software I mention above, so you're ready for whatever video format you encounter.

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