March 19, 2004

Windows (R) Linux Operating System: $199.00

Author: Joe Barr

A sharped-eyed shopper on the Austin LUG mailing list pointed out an ad from Fry's Electronics in the Austin American-Statesman this morning. Not that $199 PCs are necessarily newsworthy any longer, but this one was different. In addition to being powered by an AMD Athlon XP processor with 128MB of SDRAM, plus being "Internet ready" and "multimedia," it came with the "Windows (R) Linux Operating System." Sorry, there is a limit of 1 per customer.

The most likely explanation for the ad lends some credence to Microsoft's claims that consumers might be confused by the Linux offering from LindowsOS.com: a copy-editor's mistake turning Lindows into Windows. Of course, there is always a chance that the ad is for real. Perhaps Microsoft is abandoning its problem-plagued monopoly lynchpin Windows XP and coming to its senses. Well. Nah.

Microsoft's case is not likely to get much of a boost from the error in any event. The biggest obstacle facing Microsoft in their suit against LindowsOS here in the USA is the fact that they are trying to take a word out of the public's mouth and turn it into their own proprietary, trademarked geegaw. The court has said that's not likely to happen. And that explains why MS is working so hard to stall their case here at home, while busily filing multiple suits against LindowsOS in other parts of the world.

LindowsOS.com recently filed a motion in federal court which, if granted, would prohibit Microsoft from filing suits elsewhere while stalling here. A hearing on that motion is set for next Wednesday, March 24.

After verifying that the ad indeeds offers Windows (R) Linux, NewsForge contacted the Austin Fry's store for additional information. We were directed to Fry's national "community relations" manager on the West Coast, and are currently awaiting a call back from him. While waiting, we called the Las Vegas store. The sales clerk in Las Vegas checked their local version of the ad, and it is running there as Lindows Linux, not Windows. A sales clerk at Fry's in Houston confirmed the same ad is running there, but said it was a "typo."

The ad itself appears below. More details as we learn them.

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