Xandros has released version 4.0 of its Debian-based desktop operating system, a year and a half after the last update, adding the ability to read and write to NTFS partitions and migrate settings from Windows.

This week Xandros released two consumer-oriented editions of the OS, Xandros Desktop Home Edition and Xandros Desktop Home Edition Premium, with a business-oriented version scheduled for September. The OS is based on the "Sarge" edition of Debian.

Two of the most prominent additions to the new Xandros desktop - the premium edition, at least - are NTFS partition handling and Windows migration tools. The NTFS features are courtesy of Paragon Software Group, whose "NTFS for Linux" product ships with Xandros 4. Traditionally, Linux hasn't been able to write to partitions formatted with Microsoft Windows' proprietary NTFS file system, making it difficult to exchange data between the two operating systems.

Progression Desktop, from Versora, transfers user-defined settings for applications, as well as screen savers, sounds, keyboards, mice and the like from one OS to another. Turbolinux and Linspire already make the software available, and it supports distributions from Red Hat, Suse, Mandriva and Ubuntu.

The basic Home Edition includes a 30-day trial version of CrossOver Office, based on WINE, which allows key Microsoft applications such as Office and IE to run on Linux. The premium version includes a full version of CrossOver Office, a photo manager based on Digikam, an iPod-compatible music manager based on amaroK, wireless profiles and a security suite.

The upcoming professional edition will add support for features such as Active Directory, symmetric multiprocessing and hyperthreading. It will include the Xandros Desktop Management Server, for centralised deployment and administration.

The basic edition retails for $39.99, and the premium version costs $79.99.

Several desktop editions of Linux, such as Ubuntu, have gained popularity in recent months, but have found it difficult to break out of a small niche. At Gartner's Midsize Enterprise Summit in Paris this week, Gartner principal research analyst Annette Jump said the firm doesn't expect any significant increase in desktop Linux use over the next year.