Xandros said today that its Presto platform is capable of powering on laptops within seconds, giving users instant access to email, chat, web browsing, Skype and other compatible applications.

Now you don’t have to wait a couple of minutes for Windows XP or Windows Vista to boot. The New York company made its announcement at DEMO 2009, and its application is now available for computer makers. A consumer download version will become available for $19.95 on April 13 on the company’s web site.

Xandros built Presto based on knowledge it gathered in creating a similar capability for the Asus Eee PC, a Netbook that powers up in seconds rather than minutes. To adapt it to other models, Xandros built what it calls a “fast driver” that intercepts the standard boot process. It is an all-software, self-configuring utility — in contrast to other solutions that require additional chips on a computer’s main board. With the app, you can even create and edit Microsoft Office documents and save them to folders. It works over Wi-Fi, 3G, DSL, cable and standard Ethernet broadband networks.

Presto should appeal to road warriors who otherwise have to check smartphones for email while they’re on the run. With the platform, these users can take advantage of their laptops’ keyboards and big screens almost immediately, said Andreas Typaldos, chief executive of Xandros.

Users can check out apps available for use with Presto via the company’s application store. Presto itself requires about four gigabytes of hard disk space, a pretty small amount for today’s computers. Users can find a test version on the company’s site now.

Xandros was founded in 2001 by Linux Global Partners when it bought Corel’s Linux technology and turned it into the Xandros Linux Desktop software. The company has received $7 million in funding through private investors and raised $14 million in venture money. It has 200 employees.

Rivals include Splashtop by DeviceVM, Latitude ON by Dell, HyperSpace from Phoenix Technologies, IntervalZero and Corel InstantON. But most of these solutions come as embedded software or require special hardware.

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