June 27, 2002

Lindows.com gives itself high marks on performance

- by Tina Gasperson -
Michael Robertson has released a self-graded report card on Lindows that
examines several aspects of the nine-month-old business and gives letter grades.
Zowie, if we'd all been allowed to grade ourselves back in high school, most
of us would have fared much better.Instead of simply reprinting the report card, we've added our own
estimation of the validity of this report. Robertson graded his operation in four different
subjects: operating system, software, Windows compatibility, and communication.
He's grading on a curve, as you'll see.

Operating system

As of last week, consumers can experience LindowsOS in one of two ways.
One way is to buy a computer running LindowsOS from Walmart.com
, for as little as $299. This is a
significant milestone for us, as we've partnered with our first builder
(Microtel) and retailer (Walmart). These computers work great out of the
box and are ideal for general purpose computing tasks.

For those who already have a computer and also wish to try LindowsOS, we
offer the Insider program . This gives
people wanting early access to LindowsOS a chance to try out LindowsOS
as it develops. Currently, Insiders report installation success about
80% of the time on their PCs. Therefore we have some room to grow,
consequently, this product is not yet for everyone.

Sorry for the 20% of you who paid $99 for a system that doesn't

Some may wonder how we can sell a computer at Walmart
when the program available directly
from Lindows.com is billed as not completely ready. The difference is
the Walmart computers are certified,
ensuring that all components work elegantly with LindowsOS. That's much
different than offering a software program that will work on any
computer in the world -- that's very difficult.

(Perhaps an

It's the difference between making a single pair of shoes for
a known foot size versus opening a shoe store with every style of shoe for every
size foot. The first one is easy, the second one is a much bigger job.

(Actually, if you want to make this metaphor work, it's more like creating
one pair of shoes that can be any style or size.)

While the installer is fantastically easy and fast (the entire OS
installs in under 5 minutes), we've got a lot more work to do to support
a wider range of hardware, printers and other devices. Grade: B

(B? Last time
we checked, 80% is a solid C, Michael.)


Our goal to give people choice means giving them choice not just on
their operating system, but access to all the programs they'll want to
add to their computer to really make it work for them in their school,
home or business.

(Pardon us, but they don't have to pay $99 to get access to all these wonderful applications. Most of them are completely free -- and with apt, are easy to install.)

Click-N-Run is the easiest way to
load software onto a computer. For the first time a Linux based system
has leapt ahead of Microsoft's operating systems in ease of use. With
1,000 plus programs already in the Click-N-Run Warehouse
, users can find quality software
titles for just about any computing task and, with a single mouse-click
download, install and run these programs. All these titles are included
in the $99.

(It's not the software you're paying for, it's the fancy GUI installer -- which is nothing more than a fancy GUI apt.)

This is a fantastic consumer experience and price point.
Look for a lot more great software in the Warehouse in the future.
Grade: A-

(The Click-N-Run system has become the focal point of Lindows'
marketing efforts. While Lindows is well within its rights to charge for this
service, we believe that, up until this point, Robertson and crew have not been forthright about exactly what they're offering.)

Microsoft Windows compatibility

We live in a Microsoft world, so there needs to be a bridge from the
legacy world to the broadband LindowsOS world. This means we need to
support some bridge programs, file types and network devices to help
people interact with the legacy Microsoft world. LindowsOS computers
come with software to view, print and copy popular Microsoft
applications like: MS Word files, MS PowerPoint files and MS Excel
documents. There's great Linux based alternatives and we'll guide people
to those alternatives (they're better than most people realize). To edit
Microsoft files, we'd highly recommend one of the office suites in our
Warehouse such as OpenOffice

Many of these programs are of very high-quality and a great value since
they're included in the Warehouse.
Sometimes there are no viable alternatives for those programs, so we're
investing necessary resources to support some Microsoft Windows based
programs. Stay tuned for more developments in this area. Our printer
support is ok, but there's lots of room for more drivers. Connecting to
MS Windows based file servers is still a challenge. We need to get
better in the above areas. Grade: B

(If you will recall [we do], when Lindows
was first announced, it was the operating system that was going to run Windows
apps better and cheaper. "PCs running LindowsOS have the unique ability to run
Linux® and Windows® software. No additional software is required for owners of
LindowsOS to run popular Windows® or Linux® programs," said the original press release. Robertson is working on backing out from under
this position cleanly.)


We've tried to be diligent in communicating where our company is going
which is why there's typically a weekly Michael's Minute. While our overall goal has not deviated --
Bringing Choice To Your Computer -- our implementation has become more
focused as we listened to what our Insiders and potential customers have
told us. (Keep sending me your comments.) We have been de-emphasizing
running Microsoft Windows programs because many of you told us you
detest spending hundreds of dollars on individual software programs,
forced upgrades and activation codes. It's not just the operating
system, but costly Microsoft programs you're wanting to avoid.

(Ahem. See?
Spraying the Teflon coating on as we speak. Why have you really been
de-emphasizing Windows apps? Couldn't get them to work right without
Codeweavers, eh? We remember a Wired article back in October:

"Robertson said Linux has failed to take off with Windows users
because of entrenched habits. Users are reluctant to forsake
applications like Microsoft Office, even if viable alternatives,
like Sun's StarOffice, come along.

'We think this is one of the big
impediments to people embracing
Linux,' said Robertson. 'They have a big investment
in Windows software and don't want to leave it behind. With
Lindows OS, they won't have to. You can install the Windows
software and it behaves exactly as it would on their Windows machine.'"

Now, back to our regularly scheduled report card:)

Consequently, we've been emphasizing Click-N-Run because it will change
the way you think about software.

(Consequently, we've been emphasizing
Click-N-Run because we're scrambling for a way to make some bucks out of
this deal so we can pay for those cozy trips to Lake

Having a neatly categorized library
of 1,000+ software titles all for a flat
annual fee at your digital fingertips is an entirely new way to think about
paying for software. It's immediate, elegant and affordable.

There are lots of mischaracterizations about Lindows.com swirling around
-- which happens when you have a small organization which can't address
every question or publication.

(Which happens when you have to keep changing
your corporate vision every few months and you don't really have a clue about
the industry with which you are dealing).

We'll do a better job of addressing
these in the future. For now, I wrote up answers to the Top Myths about
Lindows.com. Check them out by visiting: www.lindows.com/myths Grade: B+


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