December 17, 2002 12:02 PM PST

Lindows heads for store shelves

Lindows, a start-up dedicated to creating an edition of Linux for average PC owners, released the first retail version of its software Monday.

The company has enlisted retail partners to sell a spiffed-up version of its operating system, Lindows 3.0, which comes with e-mail and telephone tech support and a one-year subscription to the company's Click-N-Run Warehouse, a central resource for downloading open-source applications.

"Expect to see Lindows OS on store shelves and in a multitude of new retail environments," company founder Michael Robertson said in a statement.

Lindows was started last year by Robertson, founder of MP3.com, and quickly gained attention when it was sued by Microsoft for alleged trademark infringement.

The San Diego-based software company has focused on developing a version of the Linux operating system with a simplified user interface and with tools that will let the average PC user easily install and run a variety of open-source applications. The company initially pledged that its software would run common Windows software, but has since changed course, instead focusing on providing open-source applications that can read files created with common Windows counterparts.

Early Lindows supporters include the online arm of retail giant Wal-Mart, which offers the operating system on several budget PCs.

Initial backers for the retail version of Lindows are small specialty stores such as Nova PCs, but a Lindows representative said the company expects to announce relationships with several major stores early next year. The software is available now for around $129.

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