A release candidate of the software introduced last week revealed an operating system replete with myriad compelling features to attract new users, and the final version confirms that focus.
"The objective for Ubuntu is for us to be a great consumer operating system -- something everybody can use, whether they're an engineer somewhere in China or a soccer mom in America," Canonical's vice president of business development Steve George told me on the phone yesterday. "In that context, most of the work we're doing and intending to do is making the software available to every user."
‘Something People Enjoy Using'
Toward that end, a number of Ubuntu improvements are designed to make its interface more beautiful. On the Ubuntu Netbook edition, for example, a new "Unity" interface is designed to improve the way users interact with files and folders.
The new "Ubuntu Font Family" is designed to do something similar. Canonical wants to "make the experience beautiful and shine, and something people enjoy using because it's great looking," George explained.
Applications for Android and iPhone, meanwhile, allow users to stream their music collections from their personal Ubuntu One cloud to their mobile devices and synchronize contacts.
‘Help Our Users Migrate to Ubuntu'
Ubuntu One Basic is a free service that provides a personal cloud for sharing and syncing files, contacts, bookmarks and notes, with 2GB of free storage. With Ubuntu 10.10, a beta client for Windows also allows users to integrate their Windows and Ubuntu worlds by accessing files from either platform.
"What's important for us is that this starts to untie something that keeps users on Windows," George explained. "It means their files can be stored in a place where they can access them from either machine."
That, in turn, may help more users migrate to Ubuntu, he added.
"When people explore Ubuntu, they want to access their files," he noted. "People will always use multiple operating systems -- there are lots of good reasons for that -- but this also allows us to help our users migrate to Ubuntu."
‘An Emotional Connection'
Canonical develops new releases of Ubuntu every six months. The next one -- version 11.04, called Natty Narwhal -- is due for release on April 28, 2011. The last long-term stable release was version 10.04, or Lucid Lynx, which will be supported through 2013; Maverick Meerkat's support will expire in April 2012.
Ultimately, George said, anyone "should be able to pick up Ubuntu and, within a few minutes, they should be able to understand it and enjoy it and have an emotional connection with what they can do with their computer."
Follow Katherine Noyes on Twitter: @Noyesk.