Just one week prior to Microsoft's launch of Windows 8, Canonical announced on Thursday the release of the desktop version of Ubuntu 12.10 Quantal Quetzal, the latest full build of the popular Linux-based open-source OS. It reportedly "breaks down the barrier between the PC and the web" by integrating the desktop with the Internet. Thus, end-users can now seamlessly move between local and online applications and content with ease.
"When searching for documents in the Ubuntu 12.10 Dash, for example, users can see results from online services like Google Drive, as well as files saved on their hard drives," the company said. "The Online Accounts feature allows authentication to online sites so that content like photos from Flickr accounts and contacts from Facebook can all be searched instantly by the Dash."
Canonical said that the Dash can also search both paid and free content from Amazon and the Ubuntu One Music Store such as music, videos or any other digital or physical product. Search results are displayed in a separate "More Suggestions" section.
In addition to the Dash, Ubuntu 12.10 includes Previews which give large, clear previews of content as it appears in the Dash search results. There's also the new Web Apps feature which offers integration between the desktop and online environment by making frequently-used web applications (Facebook, Twitter, Last.FM, eBay and Gmail) available directly from the desktop without the need to launch the browser.
Ubuntu One, the personal cloud service, is integrated and now available as a native app on Mac OS-X as beta, as well as Windows, iOS and Android. "With 5 GB storage free, it’s one more way to access documents, music, photos and videos, wherever you are," the company said. "Ubuntu One’s new referrals programme, means that it’s possible to get even more storage in return for recommending new users."
The new Ubuntu now also provides a new remote log-in option so that users can log into a Citrix, VMWare or Microsoft desktop running on a desktop visualization server. Thus, Ubuntu 12.10 can be used as a thin client by businesses that want to visualize their desktop applications and deliver them to users over the network.
Ubuntu 12.10, the "perfect [free] alternative to Windows 8" according to Canonical, is available to download now right here.