Suns Schwartz: Microsoft Leaving Users in the Lurch

Sun's software boss takes Microsoft to task over its decision to pull a variety of products that use the Java Virtual Machine.

Editors Note: On Thursday, Jonathan Schwartz, executive vice president of software at Sun Microsystems Inc., published on Suns Web site an open letter to Microsoft customers. Schwartzs letter came in response to Microsofts decision to remove from all its sales channels a number of products that use the Java Virtual Machine. Microsofts move will be effective Dec. 23.

Schwartz also on Thursday reiterated the companys pricing pledge made in February to undercut Microsoft Software Assurance licensing costs. He said again that Sun has "agreed to match any offer Microsoft puts on the table for desktop software at 50 percent off Microsofts quoted offer."

Sun did not respond to a request for more specifics by press time.

Here is the text of Schwartzs open letter:

An Open Letter From Jonathan Schwartz

Microsofts recent unilateral decision to discontinue support for Windows 98 and other products as of December 23, 2003 offers users a lesson, and an opportunity. Its a lesson in how a company with legendary market dominance can lose sight of customer priorities, and force an unnecessary transition onto a customer base already paralyzed with viruses and security breaches.

Its also an opportunity to explore a world of alternatives Sun and the open community are creating to deliver a more affordable and secure desktop operating environment - called the Java(tm) Desktop System.

Now, publicly, Microsoft says Sun forced its hand. Yet, they overlooked that this issue was part of a settlement it agreed to and Sun extended until September of next year. So apparently without consulting customers, partners or ISVs, Microsoft has unilaterally elected to pull their products from the market, then blamed it on Sun.

Wed like you to know that this isnt accurate.

The agreement between Sun and Microsoft gives customers a graceful transition path to a future platform, that extends far beyond December 23. Moreover, Sun has offered, and will continue to offer, a license to Java technology that would spare Microsoft any transition whatsoever so long as Microsoft maintains compatibility, and a commitment to the preservation of the very same standards igniting the world of web services.

The "One Java" platform is unleashing innovation everywhere from servers using the J2EE(tm) platform to mobile handsets running the J2ME (tm) platform, to desktops shipping from Dell, HP and Apple and with Electronic Arts, Yahoo!, and Vodafones driving a new world of high value content.

All platforms except, curiously, Microsofts Windows desktop.

Until now.

While Microsoft scapegoats Sun, the world is discovering the wonders of Suns Java Desktop System - which delivers all the functionality of a Windows environment, at a tenth the price, and with ten times the security. The Chinese government discovered it. The United Kingdoms National Health Service and Office of Government Commerce discovered it. Just like hospitals, universities, retailers - and soon, some of the worlds largest enterprises - have discovered. Suns Java Desktop System delivers an engaging, very low cost alternative to the proprietary Microsoft platform - which you can deploy without retraining, or fear of incompatibility.

So the next time an IT provider comes at you with a unilateral decision, no matter their market power, remember just one thing, customers always, always, have a right to choose. We encourage you to exercise that right and eagerly await an opportunity to help.

Because your savings - not your budget - is our passion.

Jonathan Schwartz
Executive Vice President, Software Group
Sun Microsystems, Inc.