Broadest Possible Market

By Steve Gillmor  |  Posted 2004-04-19 Print this article Print

In his conversation with eWEEK, Ballmer suggested that Microsoft needs a lot of customers to succeed. Further, he suggested that IBM has lost credibility in the enterprise because their software doesnt get used much. Does this new events-based fabric, running via auto-update as the glue between OS, apps and middleware, affect the customer equation?
The fact that Red Hat has the Red Hat Network, that Sun will have a vast auto-update network not only built from Java but from our Solaris operating environment, and that Microsoft has the Windows Update function, suggests that IBM has been somewhat hung out to dry.
They were not a part of the [Sun-Microsoft] announcement, and I think they have left themselves exposed in their zeal to move to Linux. They have failed to recognize that they have simply allowed Red Hat to replace Microsoft as the provider of operating systems for IBM. Now that Red Hat is increasingly competing against IBM as well as raising its prices to the point where customers are really beginning to express their dissatisfaction by seeking alternatives—both back to Microsoft as well as to Sun with our Solaris operating environment—suggests that it was a short-sighted decision that said they were going to abandon AIX for Intel and Opteron servers. And by the way, the same goes for HP, who managed to disinvest and move away from HP-UX just as the volume market was beginning to appear on Intel systems and then ultimately evolved onto Opteron. In my mind, we had the strategic courage to commit to Solaris on Opteron as well as the courage to continue to propagate Java into the world to create the broadest network possible. So, I am very convinced, with Steve, that he who has the most customers—and I would just add developers into that—is ultimately going to be the long-term winner. Companies that believe you can use press releases to curry favor come up short in the long run if they dont have technology in the network that allows them to reach the marketplace. Do you think its an interesting coincidence that Microsoft released some of its auto-update technology to open source? Nothing that Microsoft does is ever a coincidence. This is the first time that theyve come up with a license similar to the IBM or Apache licenses. Microsoft is filled with some of the smartest software developers in the world. Fundamentally, we have something deeply held in common between Sun and Microsoft: We both value intellectual property. And we also both value the innovations from extremely creative individuals. And the market isnt shrinking from network services or network infrastructure. The focus of our work with Microsoft was to create the broadest market possible for both of our products. Our belief is as the market grows, both of us will have more opportunity. We will continue to compete by providing the Java Desktop System as an alternative to the Windows desktop system. Well continue competing to provide Solaris as an alternative to the Windows operating system, and the Java enterprise stack to the middleware stack that Microsoft delivers. At the end of the day, thats great for customers. The fact that were committed to interoperability means either choice is a safe choice. Were very bullish on the future of the network and very bullish on the future of intellectual property in open source as well as in open standards to continue to drive that opportunity. Check out eWEEK.coms Linux & Open Source Center at for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis. Be sure to add our Linux news feed to your RSS newsreader or My Yahoo page:  

Steve Gillmor is editor of's Messaging & Collaboration Center. As a principal reviewer at Byte magazine, Gillmor covered areas including Visual Basic, NT open systems, Lotus Notes and other collaborative software systems. After stints as a contributing editor at InformationWeek Labs, editor in chief at Enterprise Development Magazine, editor in chief and editorial director at XML and Java Pro Magazines, he joined InfoWorld as test center director and columnist.

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