Microsoft, Sun Green-Light Server Pact

The days when Sun Microsystems  executives regularly derided Microsoft Windows as a “fur ball” are long gone, but a joint announcement Wednesday by the two companies may have been the stake through the heart of those animosities of yore.

Sun has signed on to be a Microsoft  OEM and ship Windows Server in its boxes. This is not a big surprise, given the warming in relations between the two firms over the past three and a half years.

“Our entire [x64] product line will be available with Windows Server pre-installed,” John Fowler, executive vice president for systems at Sun, said on a joint conference call the two firms held to announce the pact.

Sun x64 servers will be available with Windows Server 2003 within 90 days, according to company statements.

“[This agreement] is an example of our commitment to 64-bit computing,” Andrew Lees, Microsoft corporate vice president of the server and tools marketing and solutions group, said on the call.

The companies were quiet about whether Sun will also OEM Windows Server 2008 when it ships next year. The current agreement, they said, covers Windows Server 2003, the most recent commercial release.

Additionally, the two firms will work to make sure that their virtualization technologies will be able to work on each other’s platforms. Fowler said that Sun’s Solaris operating system, an update of which was announced yesterday, will run as a guest system on Windows virtualization environments and vice versa.

The companies will also expand their existing interoperability relationship and set up a new collaboration lab on Microsoft’s campus.

Among the technologies that the two firms will collaborate on in the collaboration lab will be Internet Protocol TV (IPTV), Lees added.

Lees acknowledged the time that has elapsed since the two companies started on their path to peace in April 2004. “This is a continued evolution of the agreement we’ve had with Sun for the past three and a half years.”

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