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In the News
- Sun Sets More Software Free, Cautions MA on Microsoft

==== In the News ====
by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Sun Sets More Software Free, Cautions MA on Microsoft

On Wednesday, Sun Microsystems revealed that it will give away more of its enterprise software in a bid to gain market share and increase support revenues. The company announced that it will make its Java Enterprise System, Sun N1 Management software, and Sun developer tools available at no cost to customers. The announcement echoes a similar move last year, when Sun made its enterprise-class Solaris 10 OS available for free.

"With more than 3.4 million Solaris 10 licenses and nearly one million Java Enterprise System subscribers, customers and developers around the world have asked us to take the next logical step--combining the world's fastest growing open source operating system with the world's most complete and ready-to-deploy infrastructure software platform," says Sun President and COO Jonathan Schwartz. "With our announced intent to open-source the entirety of our software offerings, every single developer across the world now has access to the most sophisticated platform available for Web 1.0, 2.0, and beyond."
Despite Sun's good intentions, the Open Source Software (OSS) community is suspicious of Sun's generosity and continues to badger the company to open up its Java programming environment. Meanwhile, Sun's plan to make money while giving away its software seems to hinge on support services. The company also announced a variety of technical support services for its free software, and Schwartz commented that he isn't aware of an enterprise customer that would deploy unsupported software.

From a reach perspective, Sun's and Star Office productivity suites have proven to be quite popular with end users. The company reports that customers have downloaded 53 million copies of Sun's free software. This compares with about 70 million copies of the MySQL database, and more than 100 million downloads of the Mozilla Firefox Web browser, two other popular OSS solutions.

In related news, Sun has also asked the state of Massachusetts not to jump back into the Microsoft camp so easily. Massachusetts was considering a move from Microsoft Office so that it could use the Sun-supported OpenDocument format for creating and storing official electronic records, but seemed to drop that requirement when Microsoft announced that it would submit its Open XML format to the Ecma International standards committee. "While Microsoft has promised to eventually submit Office 12 to a standards body, the Commonwealth must act on existing standards to best serve its future needs for document exchange," Carl Cargill, Sun's director of corporate standards wrote to Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Secretary of Administration and Finance Thomas Trimarco. "Only after a specification has been approved by a broadly supported standards body, one that demonstrates acceptable levels of openness by being available to all competing products, should the Commonwealth consider including that open standard as one of its own."

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