RealTime IT News

'Linspiration' Hits Lindows

Lindows executives have rolled out a new moniker for its desktop Linux software and the name is...Linspire.

The new name of the formerly Windows-sounding outfit is to comply with a European court's ruling that said the company's use of Lindows in its product cut a little too close to Microsoft's Windows trademark.

The company's Web site can still be found at www.Lindows.com, but officials have created a new home page at Linspire.com, and said they would re-brand their software under the Linspire name.

Lindows officials said customers would not need to upgrade, and that Linspire "is similar in features and capabilities" to LindowsOS; existing users can download Linspire at no cost. Original equipment manufacturers can expect to roll out Linspire-branded software within two weeks, the company said.

On March 8, an Amersterdam appeals court ruled the average user might not be able to tell the difference between the use of Windows and Lindows (whose Linux-based operating system works with Windows documents using the OpenOffice application suite). The court ordered the San Diego software company to change its name for the country's customers, or face a fine for every day it didn't comply. Microsoft further argued Internet users in the Netherlands were viewing the term Lindows at the Lindows.com Web site and asked the site name changed, too.

Since the ruling, Lindows online forums have been inundated with suggestions for the new name, many of them just poking fun at the company that forced the change. In order to avoid more trademark litigation, some names posters suggested: LinGate, Lyndose, Lindoors, DoorNix -- A Doorway to Linux and Lindux.

Most members in the Lindows forum were just happy the name change happened so the company could move on to other things. "I don't like the name much but oh well ... you gotta do what you gotta do," was the response of one member.

Laura DiDio, an analyst at Boston-based Yankee Group, said the issue has helped CEO Michael Robertson raise the company's profile.

"In the end, [Robertson] does a very effective job for [a company] his size," she told internetnews.com. "I don't really think it will have a perceptible impact on his sales; I think the people who are interested in buying Lindows are going to buy it no matter what." Microsoft also has a pending trademark case in Canada.

Although the Lindows name change might be seen as a retreat from Microsoft's litigation, the company still plans to use the term Lindows in "certain instances" in the U.S. and as a corporate name, its statement said. Officials also plan to continue their court fight in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California, where Microsoft is appealing a U.S. ruling that has effectively delayed its legal battle over the issue in the U.S.

Robertson said he hopes the name change will put a halt to Microsoft-led international lawsuits.

Microsoft officials were not immediately available for comment. In the recent past, a Microsoft spokesperson has said the company is "only asking that Lindows change their name."

As for the L-inspired new name, Jupiter Research Analyst Joe Wilcox said it doesn't exactly roll off his tongue. "It's important when choosing a name that it's memorable, that people will remember it," he said. (Jupiter Research and this publication share the same parent company.) "I guess the question is, is Linspire inspiring? Only time will tell."