Suns Jonathan Schwartz Takes on Longhorn

Interview: Jonathan Schwartz, Sun's software chief, speaks out on Longhorn, the mobile wireless platform and killer apps on the desktop.

Jonathan Schwartz, Sun Microsystems Inc.s executive vice president of software, took time after his quarterly Town Hall in San Francisco to sit down with eWEEK Contributing Editor Steve Gillmor in a conversation about Microsoft Corp.s Longhorn Wave and the market challenges and opportunities it may present for Sun.

SG: Notes and Groove creator Ray Ozzie says hes very excited about Longhorn – particularly its validation of Groove innovations in peer-to-peer and XML now baked in to the operating system.

Schwartz: Thats a dangerous thing though. The fact that theyre baking those things into the OS means that they dont need Rays product.

SG: He sees the opportunity to build apps on top of that infrastructure.

Schwartz: No company has ever monetized Microsofts infrastructure in the history of Microsoft.

SG: Is Longhorns managed code environment its most strategic attribute?

Schwartz: Java clearly presents an environment architected for networked delivery of code. Unlike the Windows environment, our assumption Day One was that we needed to build a network platform -- not a single destination platform -- one that assumed that code couldnt be malicious, that everyone would in fact have malicious intent – and therefore would have to be protected not only from others, but from themselves.

SG: Youre saying Longhorn represents Windows getting to where you already are?

Schwartz: I think Longhorn represents an attempt to rearchitect Windows to achieve the same attributes that we have with Java. By the time they deliver, the danger they may face is that theyve improved upon a problem space for which the marketplace has already identified alternate solutions.


SG: Microsofts view would be that, at the end of the day, four or five years from now, theyll get to where they want to go, and theyll have ownership of a very strong, well-fed group of developers. How do you mediate this transition?

Schwartz: The market for mobile data services is $80 billion this year. This platform has grown faster in terms of unit volume and dollar market opportunity. By the time Microsoft delivers Longhorn after their next slip in 2007, the market will have overtaken this view that the PC is the center of the world with: mobile devices, automobile sensors, vending machines, point-of-sale systems, airline seat-backs, you name it. In addition, we will have evolved our desktop to the point where it has become another secure, neutral, portable application space.

Next page: Schwartz handicaps next-gen killer apps.