Now that Windows 7 is out the door, Canonical, the distributor of rival Linux-based operating system Ubuntu, is eager to engage in "real head-to-head competition" with Microsoft, according to Ubuntu founder and CEO Mark Shuttleworth.
On Thursday, Canonical expects to release Ubuntu 9.10, a major update to a Linux OS available for free download in desktop, netbook, and server versions.
In a conference call with reporters today, Shuttleworth said he is "delighted" that Windows 7 is out now, even though Windows XP is still lurking on netbooks "as a ghost."
"I'd like to have another shot at the US market. I'm looking forward to that," the Ubuntu founder said.
Shuttleworth called Windows 7 a "credible release," but he also maintained that Microsoft's new OS is "still proprietary and a relatively expensive piece of technology."
He added that Windows 7 Starter Edition, the version of the new Microsoft OS that runs on netbooks, is both pricey and "restrictive" in terms of what it will allow users to do. Ubuntu 9.10 Netbook Remix, the latest netbook version of Ubuntu 9.10, will support an expanded number of 25 different netbooks, according to Shuttleworth.
Ubuntu 9.10 was designed to offer a simpler interface, faster boot and login times, a better audio framework, and improved 3G connectivity. The desktop and netbook editions will both integrate the Empathy instant messaging (IM) program.
Also in 9.10, Ubuntu One, an umbrella name for a new suite of online services for simplifying backup, synchronisation and file sharing, becomes a standard component of the Ubuntu desktop. Users of Ubuntu One will get 2 GB of cloud-based storage free of charge, and 50 GB for £6 a month.
Although Linux led the way on the earliest crop on netbooks, it later became overshadowed by Windows XP, partly because of limited support on the Linux side for printers and other peripherals.
But Shuttleworth contended today that right now, Ubuntu's "story is pretty good" for peripheral support, pointing to smartphones as the biggest remaining challenge.