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Canonical says that with the latest release schedule this Thursday, it will win your love for Ubuntu. If not immediately, give it a year - but Canonical will get you.

And by 'you', Canonical means Mac and Windows users.

Chief operating officer and blogger Matt Asay told The Reg that changes in the consumer-oriented Ubuntu 10.04 LTS edition will cause Apple fanbois to reconsider their love for Steve Jobs, while milk-fed Windows users will be less inclined to run screaming to their retailer to return their Ubuntu PC.

"I guarantee you will be impressed with Lucid if you look at it today," Asay told us in a recent interview. "We may not get you today, but we will get you six months later or a year."

The painful experiences that people had with Ubuntu in the past? When they got home, unpacked their new PC, found it wasn't running Windows but some brown piece of software crap, and returned it to the very public delight of Asay's rival Kevin Turner at Microsoft? Those will fade, says Asay.

Linux netbooks had four times the rate of return on machines loaded with Windows, according to one manufacturer in 2008. But Asay sees a brighter future. "The LTS release is a significantly better operating system than Windows," he said. "We may not win over the Mac users tomorrow, but we will impress the Mac users and we will win over the Windows users."

Ubuntu 10.04 packs a number of changes in the look-and-feel, the online services, and performance that target in particular those looking for a second machine - the netbook market. That machine will run a browser, email, IM, and music player.

Let's take the music player. Ubuntu One will be the first Linux distro to offer an out-of-the box online music store and player similar to Apple's iTunes, which works on Mac and Windows. Called Ubuntu One, the service spans millions of songs that can be searched, purchased, and played - minus DRM. The music is actually delivered by partner 7Digital, 50 per cent owned by EMI and whose customers include Adidas, Nokia, CocaCola and Sony.

Social network meets OS

Canonical has also done something neither Apple's Mac, iPhone or iPad or Windows on the PC offers but that's finding a foothold in mobile operating systems: integration of social network services with the actual operating system. This means logging in and posting is seamless and combined, and you don't need to fire up yet another application.

Ubuntu 10.04 LTS uses microblogging client Gwibber to combine streams from Twitter, Facebook, Digg, StatusNet, and such services through a Me Menu.

Performance has been improved specifically to help Ubuntu on netbooks. Canonical claimed boot up times on a standard SSD laptop are now less than 17 seconds. Chris Kenyon, director of business development who leads Canonical's OEM team, told The Reg that where Canonical has worked with PC makers on specific machines to fine-tune Ubuntu start-up, times will be even faster.

"OEMs shipping Ubuntu pre-installed can achieve even faster [results] than that. If we are pre-installing, we can further cut that down. Most users on Ubuntu will notice a really significant speed increase," Kenyon said. "For those users having a really fast boot environment is important."

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