Suns Microsoft Mistake

Sun's Microsoft deal will only hurt it in the long run and puts an end to the idea of open-sourcing Java, Linux & Open-Source Center Editor Steven Vaughan-Nichols says.

Microsoft and Sun working together!? What next? "Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria"!?

Of course, Microsoft Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc., who have a long history of hating each others guts, are not likely to work together for long. I think there were two major, short-term motivations that led the pair to resolve their legal and intellectual-property issues with Microsoft paying Sun a cool $1.6 billion.

The first is that Microsoft needs to get out of legal hot water. While the Department of Justice antitrust trial remedies have amounted to almost nothing in the United States, the European Commission shows every sign of getting ready to hammer Microsoft, and Microsoft hopes this deal will lessen the blow.

As for Sun, its Business 101: They need the money. Even with the $1.6 billion, Sun announced yet another big loss of between $750 million and $810 million for its last quarter and laid off 3,300 more people, amounting to 9 percent of its work force. Sun is one sick company.

Sun, it seems to me, has decided that the cure is not Linux or open source. Instead, Sun hopes to find its answers in getting closer to Microsoft. I know, I know, its like hearing someone say that blacker isnt that much grayer than white, but there you go.

You see, Microsoft and Sun do have two things in common. Linux and open source are eating their lunch, and theyre not sure what to do about it. Of course, Sun is the company thats really feeling that pain now. Sun is losing SPARC and Solaris customers every day to AMD/Intel and Linux providers. But Microsoft didnt become Microsoft by underestimating the competition.

Sun, which has one foot in the open-source community with its Linux-based Java Desktop System (JDS) and OpenOffice, simply doesnt trust Linux or open source for their profits. Why they dont, since their old plans arent working, is beyond me. So it is that Sun goes back and forth on open source and, for the moment, its leaning toward proprietary methods, even if that means cooperating with Microsoft.

I dont see how this move will help Sun in the long run. Sun and Microsoft have too much bad blood between them to ever really work together.

Next Page: What does Microsoft have to gain from a strong Sun?