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Lindows hits virtual shelves

The Windows challenger, being sold for the first time as an independent product, is part of an open-source package that includes Sun Microsystems' StarOffice.

    Lindows on Monday unveiled the latest version of its low-cost operating system aimed at bringing Linux to the masses.

    The release of LindowsOS 3.O marks the first time the company is selling its software as an independent product. Until now, Lindows came bundled with low-cost PCs, including some sold through Wal-Mart.

    The company said the LindowsOS 3.0 package will sell for about $129 and support dozens of Linux applications, including ones that mirror Windows applications. The software package, which is available online including at, also features Sun Microsystems' StarOffice 6.0 word processing software and supports more than 800 printers.

    People who buy the package get the Lindows operating system plus access to a range of applications through its Click-N-Run service. The Web-based service offers software for tasks such as word processing and playing MP3s. The new Lindows software also adds support for multiple users and comes with a separate CD containing Click-N-Run applications for people with slow Web connections.

    Although Linux has taken off in the server market, it has yet to make any significant inroads into the desktop market, partly because so many machines already come bundled with Microsoft's Windows. What's more, Linux software, developed collaboratively by highly technical people, has not had a reputation for being particularly consumer friendly.

    Lindows is hoping to make an end run around Microsoft by offering low-cost desktop software to consumers. Unlike Microsoft's Windows, Lindows can be installed on multiple machines without violating licensing agreements.

    The company also has announced that its software will be available on a new inexpensive tablet computer scheduled for release early next year.