April 5, 2002

CodeWeavers leaves Lindows behind

- By Dan Berkes -
CodeWeavers, the company behind popular software products enabling Windows applications to run on Linux, has ended its business relationship with Lindows. It's one more announcement that Lindows could probably do without as it tries to push its controversial Windows-friendly Linux distribution to market.

"I can confirm that we're no longer working [with Lindows]," said CodeWeavers president Jeremy White. Citing confidentiality agreements, White would not provide any additional information regarding the reason for the separation.

Representatives at Lindows were equally tight-lipped about the breakup.

"I can't really tell you, because I really don't know," said a woman who answered the call at Lindows, but declined to give her name. "I think it had something to do with a disagreement on licensing." Calls requesting additional comment were not returned.

Based in San Diego and founded by former MP3.com head Michael Robertson, Lindows made its splash on the Linux scene in the fall of 2001 with a single press release. Lindows promised fans of Microsoft applications that they would have a choice of operating systems: The usual, and presumably more expensive, Windows, or the less expensive Lindows OS.

While initially less than enthusiastic about revealing the bits and pieces of code that make up Lindows OS, the company eventually lifted the curtain to reveal the goods. Lindows OS would be a Linux distribution intermingled with code from the Open Source WINE project that would allow certain Windows applications to run without the need for an operating system from Microsoft.

That's where CodeWeavers entered the scene. The company, a major corporate sponsor of the WINE project, has also developed a number of its own proprietary applications to work with WINE, and a licensing agreement would have allowed Lindows to take advantage of some of those technologies. Codeweavers' most recent commercial product offering is CrossOver Office, a software package that allows users to install Microsoft Office and Lotus Notes on Linux-only computers.

Whether or not the loss of its working relationship with CodeWeavers will affect Lindows remains to be seen. It's likely that the Open Source implementation of WINE will continue to be a major part of Lindows OS. According to the WINE Application Database, versions of Microsoft Office will work on Linux with varying degrees of success.

CodeWeavers is far from the only issue affecting Lindows. Microsoft hauled the company into court for allegedly infringing on the trademarks of the Redmond software giant. Microsoft lawyers say the name Lindows is too close to Windows and would confuse consumers; Lindows disagrees. In March, a federal judge dismissed Microsoft's request for an injunction; the company this week asked that judge to reconsider his ruling.

As for CodeWeavers, it hasn't given up looking for a partner. Said White: "We're still talking with many companies, about working with them to bring our products to their users, but nothing that's even close to what I would call definite at this time."

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