This week, Sun Microsystems slashed the prices of its just-released Linux-based Java Desktop System and Java Enterprise System, hoping to make the new software a more compelling Windows alternative for corporations. The Java Desktop System runs Linux, the Ximian Desktop, and Sun StarOffice, a solution Sun says is ready to take on Windows and Microsoft Office. Individual Java Desktop System setups will cost just $25, Sun says, and the full Java Enterprise System, which adds portal, Instant Messaging (IM), email, and directory services, will be slashed to half price--or $50 per seat--through mid-2004.
"More than two decades ago, Sun Microsystems developed its first workstation for institutions of higher learning," Jonathan Schwartz, executive vice president of Sun's Software Division, said. "Today, Sun is as committed as it was on day one to partnering with universities and research institutions to deliver the highest-quality technology. The solution best suited for the academic environment is Sun's Java Desktop System. It gives universities the opportunity to continue pushing the envelope in research. Sun will also offer a very aggressive pricing model just for the education market, just in time for the holidays."
Sun cites countries such as China, India, and Vietnam, which have moved to open-source-based desktop systems for cost reasons, as justification for creating its Java Desktop System, noting an IDC prediction that Linux unit shipments will grow from 3.4 million in 2002 to 10.4 million by 2007. Also, the company has signed an agreement with the China Standard Software Company (CSSC), a consortium of companies that the Chinese government supports, to use the Java Desktop System on as many as one million desktops by the end of 2004. This agreement is crucial in a country that will soon emerge as a massive new opportunity for PC and software makers.