Sun Microsystems Inc. is planning a number of announcements in coming weeks to redouble efforts to use aggressive pricing and technological innovation to win customers from competitors, but is downplaying rumors about talks with IBM Corp. to create an open-source version of Sun's Java technology.
In a meeting Tuesday with reporters in Boston, company executives said that technological innovations such as a tool for converting macros from Microsoft Office to its Star Office suite and an upcoming version of its Java Enterprise System software that runs on Red Hat Inc.'s version of the Linux operating system will increase Sun's market share, especially outside the U.S. and Europe.
The company continues to have "great conversations" with IBM, but has not met with IBM in the last week to discuss that company's suggestion that Sun turn Java into an open-source technology, said Jonathan Schwartz, executive vice president of software at Sun.
In February, Rod Smith, IBM's vice president for emerging technologies, submitted an open letter to Sun asking the company to turn Java into an open-standards technology and offering IBM resources and code for an open-source Java implementation.
Speaking on Tuesday, Schwartz reiterated his company's claims that developers can already access Java source code using existing licensing and that turning Java into an open-source technology, as with the Linux operating system, would encourage the development of different Java flavors that would hurt compatibility between Java-based devices.
"There's a different dynamic in the Java world. Compatibility is the supreme priority. You have to be able to write to one (Java-based) phone, or server, or desktop and have (your code) run on all of them," he said.
In a free-ranging discussion with journalists, Schwartz and other executives said that Sun's software is stirring interest in the technology community, especially outside of North America, where organizations are fed up with expensive licensing agreements from competitors such as Microsoft Corp., IBM and Red Hat.
Schwartz predicted the appearance of a "big community" of users of its Solaris operating system, citing that operating system's availability on a wide variety of hardware platforms and N1 Grid Containers virtualization features that allow companies to make more efficient use of computing resources on Solaris than on Windows or Red Hat Linux.
Sun is also encouraged by interest in the Java Enterprise System (JES) software it released in December 2003, according to Steve Borcich, executive director of Java Enterprise Systems and Security at Sun.
Sun's JES is a package of server software including Sun's application server, directory server, portal server and other products. Adoption should increase even more when Sun releases a version of JES that runs on Red Hat in May and versions for Windows HP-UX by the end of the year, he said.
Between 130,000 and 140,000 people have adopted JES since December and Sun's decision to offer it free to companies with fewer than 100 employees has already increased adoption considerably, especially in less-developed countries such as China, where interest in Linux is driving an interest in Java development and applications, Borcich and Schwartz said.