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How might a small software company with big ambitions draw vast amounts of free advertising press coverage? Fans of the movie "The Mouse That Roared" know the answer to that one: get sued by software superpower Microsoft, of course. Lindows.com has been there and done that. How else might it generate a major-league buzz? How about by marketing the world's first $199 "AOL computer". Lindows.com has just been there and done that, too.

In answer to its own bullet point, "why 35 million AOL users should buy a LindowsOS computer", Lindows PR bunnies suggest strongly that the OS is ready to connect at the click of a mouse button:

"Today, we announced AOL's Netscape software to be the default 'Net suite' on LindowsOS 2.0. With the focus on ease-of-use and affordability, Netscape and LindowsOS combine to make for the ultimate 'AOL Computer.' We surveyed every browser, e-mail, and chat option before signing a license with AOL Time Warner to include Netscape. We are solidly convinced that users will receive the best experience possible with AOL Time Warner and Netscape," a recent Lindows press release cheerily said.

That language has since been changed on the Lindows.com Web site. This is because AOL apparently had no idea it was involved in such development schemes, and objected to the implication that Netscape + Wine = AOL.

Lindows is still claiming that "Lindows.com engineers worked with AOL Time Warner engineers to customize Netscape 7.0 for bundling with LindowsOS beginning with Version 2.0. The result is an icon driven experience which enables LindowsOS users to connect directly to AOL Mail, Chat and Instant Messaging over broadband, the fastest growing segment of Internet usage."

AOL isn't too keen on that stretcher, either. The only collaboration they know of is the momentary electronic how d'ya do which occurred when someone at Lindows.com filled an on-line form to license Netscape, according to a recent article from Linux Business Week.

The other thing that's changed is this bit: "Out of the box, the LindowsOS system is equipped to directly connect to the many useful AOL services in an easy-to-use fashion, without the typical hassles of activation codes, viruses and other maintenance annoyances."

What you're not being told here is that using AOL as your ISP is not among the 'many useful AOL services' LindowsOS is prepared to deliver. But now we find this disclaimer, so it's all right: "Even though AOL can't currently be used as your ISP to connect to the Internet from within LindowsOS (that's being worked on), if you have broadband or alternate Internet connectivity, you can still use almost all of the services provided for by AOL."

Some "AOL Computer" that is. ®

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