Sun Desktop Shines on Wal-Mart with Discount Boxes

Sun's Java Desktop System operating system can now be found on the shelves of Wal-Mart stores. According to execs, this low-cost bundle is just the next step in its plan to find new audiences for Java and its desktop platform.

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."