Sun Desktop Shines on Wal-Mart with Discount Boxes

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2004-03-30

Sun Desktop Shines on Wal-Mart with Discount Boxes

MENLO PARK, Calif.—Sun Microsystems Inc. got its wish: Its Microsoft Windows alternative Java Desktop System is now available preloaded, on Microtel Computer Systems Inc. hardware, and available for sale at discount retailer Wal-Mart.

"We now have an active relationship with Microtel," Jonathan Schwartz, the executive vice president of Suns software group, told reporters at a software day at its campus here.

"Sun is a technology provider, and our Java Desktop System is now preloaded on Microtel hardware and available for sale at Wal-Mart for under $300 a system. The Microtel SYSWM8001 PC, with an AMD [Advanced Micro Devices Inc.] Duron 1.6GHz chip and no floppy drive, can be bought for $298 from Wal-Mart now," he said.

eWEEK last December first reported that Sun was negotiating with major retailers Wal-Mart and Office Depot to include its Java Desktop System on consumer PCs and laptops.

Schwartz said on Tuesday that "we are seriously considering Wal-Mart now to be the PC supplier for Sun Microsystems. We also have some 500 pilots of our Java Desktop System and the Java Enterprise System now running across the world, and North America is the most cynical market when it comes to looking at Microsoft alternatives.

"We are making a lot more gains overseas, in places like Asia and South America," he said.

Sun currently has some 160,000 Java Enterprise System users, employees and companies cumulatively, at $100 per user, under a three-year contract with unlimited rights to use it, he said.

"Remember that Microsoft has some $70 billion in financial assets and has used this balance sheet to help drive corporate IT decisions in their favor," Schwartz said, adding that procurement officers now love Sun Microsystems as they get unlimited use per employee for $100 each. "They are now asking competing vendors what they are going to do for them to match or beat that," he said.

Next page: "Java is everywhere."

Page Two

The broad consumer market is also starting to become a major new audience for Sun, and is providing a huge new opportunity for the company. "Java is everywhere. We have made progress with automobile companies, printer companies, with handsets and back-end servers.

"The market is beginning to tip as there are no handset markets or carriers who do not see Java as having a role in their products and business," he said.

Handsets will be 2 megabits going forward, enough to download a movie or watch broadband-delivered content. "This is a huge deal for us as we are finally seeing the evolution off handsets and onto other consumer devices, all the way to automobiles, and onto the consumer desktop," Schwartz said.

Some 60 percent of computers that ship today ship with Suns Java Virtual machine installed and not Microsofts version. "There have been more than 36 million downloads from since last June. This is now averaging some 7 million a month and some 30 million unique visitors to the site every month," Schwartz said.

There are now four notable trends in Suns market, he observed. "Firstly, everyone is moving forward with Web services and Java Web services. The evolution of our platform for this is stronger than it has ever been, and our J2EE application server is an example of that. We are seeing some 55,000 copies of this being downloaded a week [up from 5,000 a week in November], and it is now free for them to deploy," Schwartz said.

Secondly, security and identity is a big deal. "Sarbanes Oxley will be a huge driver, as viruses and Sarbanes Oxley are essentially about the same thing: knowing where the content is coming from and who the source is," he said.

Thirdly, messaging consolidation is a big trend area, with many people looking at replacing their Microsoft exchange environments. The fourth trend area is content delivery, Schwartz said.

According to the executive, the business value for Sun lays in volume, which drives everything in IT. "Its what Sun did to IBM, its what Intel and Linux are potentially doing to Sun, and it is what we will do to Microsoft. But volume without monetization doesnt create wealth for our shareholders, he said.

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