The San Diego-based company, which was known as Lindows until reaching a settlement last year with Microsoft Corp. over trademark issues, has incorporated nearly 1,200 improvements and enhancements into the new version.
Included with the new version are the latest versions of several well-known open-source applications, including the OpenOffice productivity suite, Lsongs Music Manager and Lphoto Photo Manager, RealPlayer 10 and Lassist Suite, and a contact and e-mail manager. In addition, Five-0 comes with expanded support for popular file formats, including .mp3, .doc and .pdf, among others.
Although Linspire is positioning its operating system at education and businesses via a professional version launching later this year, the company appears to be pointing Five-0 squarely at the consumer market.
According to Linspire President and COO Kevin Carmony, Wal-Mart, perhaps the companys best-known and largest partner, will most likely upgrade the Microtel white boxes it sells with the Linspire OS to Five-0 within the next 30 days.
Carmony said that while the new version of Linspire offers more business-related features, the company always has made the consumer space a priority in its strategy.
"Right now, [our customer base] is about 70 percent consumer and 30 percent business, and we are getting stronger in business all the time. But businesses have always tended to move more slowly in this area, so rather than wait around, we decided from the beginning to go into the consumer space while businesses catch up," Carmony said.
Linspire is available for immediate download at the companys Web site and is expected to be available in retail-box form later this month. The basic version costs $49.95, while its enhanced CNR ("Click and Run Warehouse") version costs $89.95. Those who buy a new Linspire computer through one of the companys 350 OEM vendors will get free CNR service, which enables users to download and install or upgrade over 2,000 Linux-compatible programs with a single mouse click, for 15 days. After that time has elapsed, users can then purchase the service for $49.95 per year.
According to Carmony, about 80 percent of Linspire Linux users subscribe to CNR despite the added cost because it allows for easy installation. In addition, it allows for easy upgrade of programs and preconfigures such applications as the GIMP image rendering program to make the program more comfortable and familiar to users who, until now, have used more commonly known programs like Adobe Systems Inc.s Photoshop.
"Its like getting an oil change for your car. You can change the oil yourself, but sometimes its easier to pay someone else to do it. Im the president of this company, and I dont know how to install Linux software. I just dont have the time," Carmony said.
While ease-of-use capabilities certainly are a criteria for choosing an OS, they are not the only ones people use when deciding to migrate to a Linux distribution, according to Stacey Quandt, senior business analyst and open-source practice leader at Westport, Conn.-based research firm Robert Francis Group.
Other Linux distributions, such as Mandrake, are known for their ease of use, said Quandt. For her part, the types of certified applications available for a distribution, the distributions overall relevance for an end users needs and the sort of customer support a vendor provides play as important a role as ease of use.
Having said that, Quandt added that Linspires ability to gain recognition and build its brand through its association with Wal-Mart and other resellers indicates that Linspires product has captured many peoples attention.