Sun Closes in On Java Desktop 2.0

Sun Microsystems is fast approaching its
second-generation desktop software, while acknowledging its momentum in the
enterprise.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based network computer maker said Thursday it is
on track to deliver the 2.0 version of its Java Desktop System (JDS) in
early May 2004. Core to the upcoming release is the addition of management
software and control features (code-named APOC).

The Windows desktop alternative includes a GNOME desktop environment,
StarOffice productivity suite (word processing, spreadsheet, presentation,
drawing and database capabilities), Mozilla browser, Evolution e-mail and
calendar client, RealNetworks’ RealONE player, Macromedia Flash, Java 2
Standard Edition, and a Linux operating system. The JDS also allows users to
play CDs and DVDs. Prices for enterprise start at $25 per desktop per year
for the desktop software, maintenance, support and training.

And while Microsoft Windows is still the dominant desktop software,
Curtis Sasaki, Sun vice president of Desktop Solutions told
internetnews.com having more control on the back-end in version 2.0
was imperative to gaining support in the enterprise to help boost
productivity.

“If all employees have the same desktop, productivity suffers because
employees will go to non-work related sites — checking stocks or shopping
on eBay,” Sasaki said. “APOC allows an enterprise to set up policies and
store them in a directory. Sun’s Java Enterprise System in the back-end is a
perfect compliment to JDS. We’ve also extended capabilities to store the
preferences in Active Directory.”

Sasaki said the next generation desktop would also expand the number of
CDs from five to ten to accommodate the bundled management software but also
developer tools such as NetBeans and related Java Development Kit as well as
a one-year free subscription to Java.com. Version 2.0 is also expected to
add support for open source file and print client SAMBA 3.

As for updates, patches and support, Sun said it is relying on help from
its partner Electronic Data Systems to help handle the
calls. Customers are still allowed to either have the patches sent to
servers inside a company’s firewall or contact Sun individually for
download.

About the only things Sun has not been able to bundle in its next JDS are
extensions based on its new relationship with Microsoft .
Sasaki said that level of support will come in due time through the use of shared
APIs and protocols for Exchange.


Sun is also keeping its graphically
enhanced user interface (code-named Looking Glass) for a version of JDS
beyond version 2.0. According to Sasaki, developer Hideya Kawahara is on a
slightly different schedule but is expected to make some noise at this
summer’s Java ONE conference and transform the software from a demo to a
clean API stack as well as developing an SDK.

Now Sun is celebrating its 21st partner, an achievement that started with
China Standard Software and has extended globally to Japanese software
distributor SOURCENEXT, Pebblerock in the U.K., Naturetech in Taiwan,
Xandros in Canada, Markement in Germany and Ingram Micro Asia in Singapore.

Sun has even tapped into the American market with help from OEMs like Tadpole, DJ Computers, and TR but also with its largest
contract Microtel, which is now Sun’s largest distribution partner courtesy
of Wal-Mart .

The company also noted its U.S. government customers, in the Army, Air
Force, Navy and Marines as well as its enterprise customer AT&T Wireless.

Earlier this week, Sun offered a discount to its iForce reseller
partners: $50 per employee per year for Sun Java Enterprise System software
and $25 per desktop per year for Sun Java Desktop System software.
Qualifying companies of less than 100 employees are also eligible to get the
JES for free.

Sun said its future JDS are also planned to support workstations and Sun
Ray thin clients running the Solaris Operating Environment.

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