The Linux-based operating system includes the Mozilla browser, StarOffice office productivity suite, GNOME interface and Evolution mail client.

Elizabeth Montalbano, Contributor

November 20, 2003

3 Min Read

Sun Microsystems is eyeing Friday, Dec. 12, as its target ship date for the Java Desktop System, Sun's software chief told CRN Wednesday.

In an e-mail to CRN, Jonathan Schwartz, Sun's executive vice president of software, said the open-source desktop operating system should be generally available to customers on or about that date.

A Sun spokeswoman confirmed that Sun plans to ship the Java Desktop System sometime the week of Monday, Dec. 8, but would not comment on the exact general availability date for the product.

Sun unveiled the Java Desktop System, formerly code-named Mad Hatter, in September 2002. The Linux-based OS, which includes the Mozilla browser, StarOffice office productivity suite, GNOME interface and Evolution mail client, is Sun's effort to disrupt the industry's dependency on Microsoft Windows as the dominant desktop OS.

Earlier this week Sun scored what the company positioned as a major win for its desktop when it signed a deal that makes Sun the preferred technology partner for the China Standard Software Company (CSSC) to help provide a nationwide standard desktop software system in China. The CSSC is a consortium of government-supported IT companies formed to deliver a standard Linux-based desktop system for China.

Schwartz told CRN Sun stands to make a profit from the Chinese deal because the consortium is paying Sun for the intellectual property and products Sun delivers to the group. "Then they add value for China and local markets--and together we deliver and support the products," Schwartz said. "We'll be compensated on a per-copy basis, just as with any other OEM/partnering deal.

Schwartz added that both Sun and the CSSC have a "big incentive" to see their joint efforts succeed. He said China hopes to "bridge their digital divide" by providing a standard platform that is something other than Windows. For its part, Sun hopes the deal will "fuel the Java Desktop as a global standard" and help boost Sun's revenue in the process, he said.

Sun's deal with China came only days after Schwartz said Sun was seeking per-citizen licensing as a way to offer its Java Desktop System to a host of countries outside the United States.

Schwartz previously admitted that Sun is marketing the desktop outside of the United States because interest in the suite has been lackluster in North America, where Microsoft's Windows OS has been dominant.

Sun has been registering customers for the Java Desktop System since mid-August when the company used the Blaster worm's attack on Windows to promote its own desktop software strategy.

Pat Sueltz, executive vice president of Sun Services, told CRN Wednesday there has been marked interest among Sun partners in the desktop OS because they see it as a way to make significant profit margins while providing their customers with a low-cost alternative to Windows.

"We have so many partners calling and saying, 'We not only like that idea, we'd like to work with you,' " Sueltz said. "There are folks who are saying there's huge opportunity because they're out with customers who are suggesting one, the only access to the Internet doesn't come through a PC, and two, when it comes through a desktop it doesn't have to be through Windows."

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