Linspire, the company once known as Lindows, has released its latest Linux version, Linspire Five-0. More than a year in the making and with more than 1,200 improvements, the company reckons the new product "boasts enhancements in every core application and provides the most secure, reliable and easy-to-use desktop Linux experience available for home, business and school users."

Highlights include a revised graphical interface, improved laptop and hardware support, Internet optimisation, and dozens of enhanced software applications. Linspire said the OS is "a stable, secure Linux-based operating system that comes complete with major desktop applications", including:

  • (a Microsoft file-compatible office suite)

  • Web browser, e-mail and instant messaging clients

  • multimedia viewers

  • photo and music managers

  • calendaring tools.
  • Linspire said the product is easy to install and takes under 10 minutes, after which it provides update notifications for both OS and installed software. However, one reviewer of a late beta product was disappointed with the OS's lack of DVD player and experienced a few minor technical hitches, common with beta products.

    Features and benefits:

  • Complete operating system: Built on Linux kernel 2.6.10; includes KDE 3.3 plus integrated office suite, Web browser, e-mail client, instant messenger, and more

  • Improved security: New built-in VPN; new encrypted "wallet" for storing passwords and other personal information; pre-configured firewall; enhanced virus resistance with optional VirusSafe service

  • Advanced hardware support: Easy plug and play support for removable media use; one-step diagnostic reporting; broader video support with 6.8.2; sound system with real-time mixing support

  • New look and feel: Graphical user interface and themed Linspire environment; enhanced and expanded voice-narrated "How-To" tutorials

  • Advanced Internet optimisation: integrated search feature; built-in automatic spell checking in all Web applications; built-in BitTorrent support; new AOL dialler; enhanced firewall; MailMinder service

  • Improved laptop support: Wi-Fi profiles for mobility; Intel Centrino compatibility and AMD PowerNow; new wireless control panel and access point locater

  • Improved support for schools and businesses: OpenOffice 1.1.3 office suite; improved networking; Lassist Suite (Reminders, MailMinder, Calendar, Address Book); Web-authoring system

  • Expanded support for popular Internet, office and media file types.

  • Linspire said Five-0 is available for download and will be available in more than 1,000 retail outlets in the US later this month.