Rumors of Sun-Google Hosted Desktop Suite Quashed

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2005-10-24 Print this article Print

Sources close to the joint efforts between Google and Sunsay rampant speculation about hosted desktop productivity offerings and common operating systems is way off base.

Sources close to the joint efforts between Google Inc. and Sun Microsystems Inc. say rampant speculation about hosted desktop productivity offerings and common operating systems is way off base.

Insiders with knowledge of the joint plans to promote and enhance the desktop productivity suite say it is far more likely that Sun and Google will find ways to promote both and Google Toolbar, including having Toolbar included as part of, StarOffice, and even OpenSolaris and Suns branded Solaris products.

Google Toolbar is a search and Web-surfing utility that integrates with Web browsers.

"A hosted desktop productivity offering has not been well-received when it has been tried in the past, and those have been beset with problems, including a lack of network bandwidth and speed," said one source. "There are also currently quite a number of existing user options, from Microsoft Office and Microsoft Works to Corels WordPerfect Office, Suns StarOffice and the free, so what benefit would a hosted offering bring?"

Sun-Google: Wheres the beef? Click here to read Eric Lundquists column. Thomas Nau, head of the Communication and Information Centers Infrastructure Department at the University of Ulm, in Germany, and a Sun customer, agreed.

Nau welcomed collaboration between the two companies but said, "I have yet to see a Web-based desktop that really works. I also doubt there will be one soon that becomes anything more than a niche product." Nau, like many others, said he will not even consider using such a product.

Under the joint agreement the companies announced earlier this month, Google, of Mountain View, Calif., committed to promote and enhance Sun technologies such as the OpenOffice. org suite and JRE (Java Runtime Environment). In return, Sun, of Santa Clara, Calif., will include Google Toolbar as an option in its consumer downloads of the JRE.

Click here to read more about the new Sun-Google alliance. But the lack of specifics, along with the fact that Google is widely expected to make a move on the desktop productivity and operating system fronts, has fed the rumor mill.

John Loiacono, executive vice president for software at Sun, has said that possible future collaboration projects under discussion with Google include work on OpenOffice. org, as well as cooperative arrangements in which each company will point its customers to the others technology. "This is just Phase 1 of a multiphase approach," he told eWEEK.

Asked about possible collaboration between the two companies on Suns Solaris and OpenSolaris operating systems, Loiacono said Sun has disclosed all its existing and planned technologies to Googles technologists so they can see what is useful and what Google may be able to help with.

For his part, Google CEO Eric Schmidt would say only that Google engineers contribute to the open-source community and open-source projects, of which OpenSolaris is one.

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis about productivity and business solutions
Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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