Move over ESPN--it's the fight of the Sun King and Swingin' Gates

The Rat figures he started off in the wrong business.

Instead of binding bits to packets, he should have done what Mama Rat always said and
become a litigator, like so many other rats before him.

Sun Microsystems Inc.'s legal salvo against Microsoft Corp. has shown the cyberrodent
the error of his ways. He's counting the billable hours on this one and drooling. Neither
software giant can come away with a victory. The only ones who win are the lawyers, after

So what made Sun go after Microsoft over the biggest World Wide Web browser's
incompatibility with Java? Well, this storm's been brewing for a while.

Sun chief Scott McNealy doesn't seem to have changed his attitude much toward the
Redmond Mother Ship. Anybody remember seeing Scott do a demo that showed Bill's head being
blown to pieces in a simulated wind tunnel? This isn't business, it's personal.

Rather than make everyone else suffer through their Java jihad for the next 18 months,
the Rat proposes something more gentlemanly: a duel between Messrs. McNealy and Gates. The
ultimate fight to the death. No holds barred. Steel cage.

The Rat would, of course, be happy to officiate. Think of the advantages in such a
scenario. Instead of dumping their next few quarters' revenues into the toilet, Microsoft
and Sun could make piles of money on Pay-Per-View and merchandise licenses.

Considering the antitrust investigations now under way, the whiskered one feels certain
he could persuade federal enforcement authorities to turn a blind eye to the event.

To make things more interesting, the Rat suggests that each combatant be allowed one
martial arts weapon for each platform on which his core technology runs. Bill gets one:
Windows. McNealy gets one for Windows, one for Apple Macintosh, one for Solaris, one for
Linux ... you get the idea.

Oh yeah, and Bill can bring a dull pocketknife for Windows CE.

Bill won't be at a complete disadvantage. They can duke it out on his favorite fitness
equipment--a trampoline.

It's not that the Rat has a favorite in this matchup. That would be beneath an ultimate
fight referee's professionalism. He just wants to see the whole thing settled. If that
requires a couple of body blows with a hockey stick, so be it.

There are far worse things than a fight to the death. For example, the loser could be
forced to run an enterprise on Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 Enterprise Edition. The wired one
shudders to think of it.

The Enterprise Edition, spearhead of Microsoft's quest for respectability at the high
end, proves once again that the Redmondites are tops when it comes to half-implemented
functionality and changes to the underlying technology in each release.

If Bill Gates won't take on Scott McNealy in a bout to the death, Microsoft will have
an even bigger ultimate fight to face: convincing the Rat and the rest of the world that
NT can scale.

In the meantime, the Rat is going to try to bring off that other matchup.
"Operator, give me Don King, please."

The Packet Rat once managed networks but now spends his time ferreting out bad packets
in cyberspace. E-mail him at

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