Sun lifts lid on cost-cutting software strategy

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Sun Microsystems ‘Microsoft-busting’ software strategy has finally been officially unveiled with claims that its will change the way software is sold and paid for.

The Sun Java System is based on a combination of new and re-branded products. The Java Enterprise System - formerly known as Project Orion - bundles Sun One application server and middleware products, such as clustering, into a single offering for the company's Solaris-based Unix servers. Sun says this will cost as little as $100 per employee.

Meanwhile the Java Desktop System - formerly codenamed Mad Hatter - combines several popular open-source products into a SuSe Linux-based package for PCs, including the new version of Sun's StarOffice application. The software bundle will be $100 per desktop.

"The world has to be getting a little disappointed in our industry," McNealy said on Tuesday, addressing attendees of the company's SunNetwork conference. "We are overcharging in our industry by an order of magnitude," or by up to 10 times, he said. "That cost... is going to come out of our industry in the next five to 10 years."

The importance of software to the future of Sun was emphasised by the release of new market share figures from Gartner Dataquest that show that the company is losing ground in the market for Unix servers. Sun maintained its top ranking with 35.6 per cent of the market, but that was down from its market lead of 42.3 percent a year ago. HP was hot on its tail with a 31.5 per cent share although according to Gartner it was IBM, which picked up most of the lost Sun share, lifting its share 5 points to 22.8 per cent.

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