Sun battles Microsoft desktop hegemony

Sun battles Microsoft desktop hegemony

Sun Microsystems Inc. next week will release the Java Desktop System, a new desktop PC operating system. It can run as a thin-client operation, in which a server holds all the data and applications. Or it can be a standalone operating system on existing PCs.

John Leahy, chief of staff for Sun's federal operations, said he sees two immediate government markets for the Java Desktop System. One market is agencies with concerns about the security holes in Microsoft Windows OSes. Another market is agencies that are consolidating their hardware and software at an enterprise level. They would find a thin-client approach simpler to manage, Leahy said.

The Java Desktop System is based on a Linux distribution from SuSE Linux, which Novell Inc. is acquiring. Sun's version has the Gnome graphical interface, Mozilla browser, Evolution mail reader, Gaim instant messenger and OpenOffice, the office suite whose applications are similar to those in Microsoft Office.

Sun will offer quarterly OS updates, incorporating new versions as they become available, said Reed Hornberger, Sun's vice president of business strategy.

The Java Desktop System is a companion to Sun's Java Enterprise System suite for thin-client servers. Released in September, Java Enterprise System bundles Sun server software for portals, Web pages, messaging, instant messaging, directories and other services. It runs under Sun Solaris on either Sparc or x86 processors.

The Java Desktop System will cost about $100 per employee per year, or half that sum in conjunction with the Java Enterprise System, which costs $100 per employee per year.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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