Sun to Deliver Software to Schools

Sun announces a program to donate $1 billion worth of software to educational and research institutions.

In what one executive called giving back to its roots, Sun Microsystems Inc. Monday announced a program to donate $1 billion worth of software to educational and research institutions.

The Santa Clara, Calif., company announced its Sun Education Software, or EduSoft, Portfolio at the Worldwide Education and Research Conference in San Francisco Monday.

The portfolio includes a range of offerings from Sun, including the Solaris 9 operating system, the Sun ONE Starter kit, Sun ONE Studio application development tools, Sun ONE Web Services Development products, the GNOME open-source Linux desktop, StarOffice software and Sun Ray appliances, the company said. Sun will provide a media kit next month for "a nominal fee" that will include quarterly updates of the software.

Yet the highlight of the offering is Suns StarOffice productivity suite, which the company said it has delivered to more than 100 school districts, higher education facilities and ministries of education around the world to the tune of $6 billion worth of software.

Jonathan Schwartz, executive vice president of software at Sun, said Sun came out of the educational and research environment when the company was founded in 1982. Sun is "giving back" to academic and research institutions by delivering access to software and technology, he said.

Many high technology companies are trying to seed the market by tapping emerging talent while they are still in training. Microsoft Corp. last week announced a similar program—granting funds to universities and announcing an academic version of its Visual Studio .Net development platform.

Sun said based on its projections of 100,000 users in the academic community, the value of its offering will exceed $1 billion. The offer pertains to students, teachers and campus IT staff, and features unrestricted access, the company said.

In addition, Sun is offering discounts of up to 60 percent on software support to educational and research institutions through Sun Software Support, and Sun Educational Services will offer free Web-based training on technical issues relating to the software, the company said.

Meanwhile, Sun said it will provide discounts of up to 42 percent on its Sun Ray network appliance systems for use in the education market.