RealTime IT News

Sun Desktop Rises in Japan Again

UPDATED: Sun Microsystems has eked out its second major contract in Japan for its Java Desktop System (JDS), the company said Wednesday.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based network computer maker, which made its JDS Release 2 software available last month, said it will supply the Information-technology Promotion Agency (IPA) in Japan with its alternative to Microsoft Office.

Sun has tread down this path before. In January, Sun signed a supply deal, with Sourcenext, Japan's largest computer products distributor.

Sun said it won the recent contract after the government division bid on different platforms for an open source software verification program for its educational institutions. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"[We are] promoting the deployment of open source software to provide more choice of desktop environments for users," Takashi Kume, deputy director of Information Services Industry Division in the Commerce and Information Policy Bureau of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) of Japan, said in a statement.

"METI believes that when open source software is used more pervasively, starting with initiatives like this one, the open source community becomes more active and will promote increased choice of information technology in Japan."

The IPA's activities include promoting the development and use of software programs, assisting the growth of information service businesses, ensuring IT security and developing a skilled IT workforce.

The Sun JDS includes the GNOME desktop environment, StarOffice productivity suite, Mozilla browser, Evolution e-mail and calendar client, RealNetworks' RealOne player, Macromedia Flash, Java 2 Standard Edition, and SUSE Linux. The JDS also allows users to play CDs and DVDs.

The license fee for the educational community is $25 per desktop per year and includes software maintenance for one year from the purchase date. Enterprise customers can purchase the Java Desktop System for $50 per desktop per year or $25 per employee per year if licenses are purchased for all company employees.

Recently, Sun ported the desktop environment to Solaris running Intel and AMD x86-based servers and workstations, giving the company a broader appeal.

Sun said it plans to work closely with Japan and the IPA, which serves the Japan Open Source Software Promotion Forum. The forum includes the Open Desktop Working Group, which conducts studies to promote open source desktop environments using Linux.

This year, the forum (whose membership includes Hitachi, NTT Data and Fujitsu) is expected to conduct verification tests with the JDS to identify and develop additional usability functions for the Japanese market.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified Sun's JDS as running on Red Hat Linux.