Evesham Technology this week signed a deal to bundle Lindows on to its PCs, adding weight to the controversial operating system.
Lindows - the brainchild of Michael Robertson, chief executive of Lindows and the founder of MP3.com - is an OS that allows users to run both Microsoft Windows and the open source Linux software on the same PC.
Earlier this year, Lindows survived a legal challenge from Microsoft, which claimed that Lindows had strategically named itself to confuse customers and cash in on the Windows brand.
The Lindows OS has, until now, been available only in the US. But it received a major boost this summer when US retail giant Wal-Mart announced that it would offer PCs built around Lindows.
The E-scape Li PC, costing about £250, will be available through Evesham's chain of 16 UK stores, as well as through direct sales and via their website.
"Evesham has helped Lindows hit another major milestone," said Robertson in a statement.
"We are now able to send our international customers to a viable, well-known computer builder in the UK."
Although the deal is a major boost to the company, analysts said it did not mean the Lindows OS was likely to become mainstream.
Gartner analyst Brian Gammage said: "I don't think this is a sign of any general acceptance in the business or home user environment. Evesham is a small vendor.
"The PC business is a very difficult marketplace especially driven by price, and operating systems have not come down in price over the last few years.
"I think the existence of other options is part of a commercial force being applied out there, part of a campaign."
Dan Kusnetzky, vice president at analyst IDC, added that Lindows was not a big enough player to trouble Microsoft.
"Lindows is one of many Linux companies attempting to increase the Linux share of the client operating environment market from the current 1.7 per cent share of worldwide shipments [2001 data], by making the environment centered on Linux acceptable to Windows users.
"To successfully achieve this for all users is beyond the abilities of a company the size of Lindows.
"It would require leading an effort to persuade the suppliers of Windows applications, development tools, deployment environments, middleware and serverware to port to Linux ? consumers just won't find the applications they want on Linux," Kusnetzky said.
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