Wal-Mart won't do just Windows anymore. The world's largest retailer is now selling, via its Web site, low-cost PCs loaded with a version of Linux that runs Windows apps. The deal, with startup Lindows.com Inc., is a break from Microsoft's lock on home-PC operating systems.
Wal-Mart.com is advertising PCs from white-box computer maker Microtel Computer Systems loaded with LindowsOS, which has the open-source advantages of Linux: Its code is modifiable by users. It also runs Windows apps without the performance degradation experienced while using other types of emulation software, Lindows founder Michael Robertson says.
Wal-Mart is selling a range of Lindows PCs, beginning with a machine sporting an 850-MHz Advanced Micro Devices Inc. CPU, 128 Mbytes of RAM, and a 10-Gbyte hard disk for $299. It also sells Microtel systems loaded with Windows. Since February, Wal-Mart.com has sold Microtel PCs without operating systems. A Microsoft spokesman couldn't be reached for comment.
Microsoft sued Lindows in December over trademark infringement. A federal judge has so far denied Microsoft's request to shut down Lindows' Web site or block its use of the Lindows name.
In other Windows news, Microsoft says it will include its implementation of a Java Virtual Machine in Windows XP Service Pack 1, an update to the desktop operating system due this summer. Microsoft has been blocked from updating its Java Virtual Machine--a run-time environment that executes Java apps--by a legal settlement with Java creator Sun Microsystems, and Microsoft shipped Windows XP last fall without a Java Virtual Machine.
Microsoft says it still plans to remove support for Java from future versions of Windows. But Jim Cullinan, Windows XP's lead product manager, said in an E-mail that Microsoft decided to include the virtual machine in the XP service pack to "minimize any potential impact on our customers" of not being able to run Java apps, while Microsoft irons out more legal issues with Sun.