November 13, 2003

This CEO Gives Microsoft 'Window' Pains

To hear Michael Robertson tell it, he's got Microsoft over a barrel. The man made a fortune when he sold his earlier company, MP3.com, after taking on
the major record labels. Now, with Lindows.com, he's gunning for the strongest, richest tech company of all. Says Robertson: "I think God put me on
this world to challenge big companies."

But he has a problem: the name Lindows.com he chose for his company, which distributes a desktop version of the open-source Linux operating system.
Clearly he intended to evoke the trademarked brand Windows. Microsoft is not pleased, and is fighting back. It wants Lindows.com to change its name,
and sued almost two years ago, before the company even had a product, to try to force it to do so. Microsoft sought an injunction to prevent use of
the name, but the judge refused. Now, in about three weeks, the case finally goes to a jury trial in Seattle. Bill Gates is scheduled to take the
stand in the first week of December.

Lindows.com is the kind of company that keeps Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates up at night. Says Robertson: "Microsoft has conceded that the server will
have some Linux competition, but they've drawn a line in the sand at the desktop." Windows on the desktop is a huge part of what makes Microsoft the
world's most profitable company. Robertson is rightMicrosoft doesn't welcome competition here. But with IBM and many others now touting the notion
that Linux belongs on many peoples' desktops, competition is coming. Meanwhile, Lindows.com has hardly any customers.

Link: fortune.com

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