Lindows offers educators flat-rate deal

Software provider Lindows.com Inc. is offering US educators a new flat-fee licensing program, in a move that pokes at rivals' efforts to seize the valuable education market, where companies have traditionally looked to recruit lifetime users of their products.

The new Lindows program allows educators to install the LindowsOS operating system (OS) and educational software on an unlimited number of computers for US$500 a year.

The San Diego software provider has made a splash with its low-cost Linux-based OS recently, due to it widening distribution deals and its showdown with software giant Microsoft Corp. Lindows has not only raised Microsoft's ire by offering a Linux-based OS that is compatible with popular Microsoft file formats, but the software juggernaut has also sued Lindows for trademark infringement over the similarity between the Lindows and Windows names.

But despite its legal problems, Lindows has managed to rack up deals with US retailers such as Walmart.com, which sells low-cost PCs loaded with the LindowsOS, and Fry's Electronics Inc.'s retail stores. Under the deal with Fry's, announced Tuesday, the retailer will offer the LindowsOS 3.0 Membership Edition in stores throughout the U.S.

The LindowsOS Membership Edition license also includes one-year access to what the company calls it's "Click-N-Run Warehouse" of software programs which can be downloaded from the company's site.

Given this, educators participating in the new flat-rate program will be able to download educational software in addition to receiving the LindowsOS license, the company said.

Many schools get computers donated to them, but they can't afford to equip them with modern operating systems and software, Lindows.com Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Michael Robertson said in a statement. Robertson, who is also the founder and former CEO of MP3.com, added that under the new flat-free program schools, no matter what their size, will be able to provide their computers with an up-to-date OS.