Sun's Desktop Linux Draws Interest

Sun Microsystems has exceeded its own expectations. The company has signed 21 original equipment manufacturers for several products the company offers as alternatives to Microsoft desktop software, Sun announced at the Desktop Linux Summit in San Diego this week.

The OEM deals, with companies such as Tadpole Computer and Taiwan-based Nature Worldwide Technology, are for such Sun products as the Java Desktop System, which contains a Linux-based operating system and related desktop software, the StarOffice software suite and Sun Ray thin clients.

The StarOffice suite is part of the Java Desktop System but is also sold separately.

"We're doing better on the OEM front than we thought we'd be," says Curtis Sasaki, Sun's vice president of desktop solutions.

Already Available

One of those OEMs is Microtel Computer Systems, whose PCs loaded with the Java Desktop System are sold now through Wal-Mart Stores' Walmart.com online store.

Prices for the Microtel PCs with the Java Desktop System at Walmart.com range from $298 to $698. They feature processors either from Intel or Advanced Micro Devices with clock speeds that range from 1.6 GHz to 3 GHz, Sun says. The PCs are also available at Java.com/Walmart.

The Java Desktop System began shipping in December 2003 and Sun plans to ship version 2.0 of the Java Desktop System in May, Sasaki says. Expectations for the product are high: Sasaki is shooting for Java Desktop System to have five years from now a global market share of between 15 and 20 percent of the desktop platform market, currently broadly dominated by Microsoft.

The Java Desktop System costs $100 per employee per year or $50 per employee per year if the client also buys the Java Enterprise System server software, which costs $100 per employee per year. These prices are significantly below those charged by Microsoft for similar products.

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