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Google, Sun in Vague Alliance

It was rumored to be a blockbuster deal, but the alliance announced yesterday between Google and Sun was vague and uncertain, and surely just a minor subset of what the companies had planned to announce originally. Instead of a wide-reaching deal to distribute the office productivity suite through Google, the two companies announced that Sun would distribute the Google toolbar as an optional install when users downloaded Java. While that's nice and all, it's not the full frontal assault on Microsoft that we had expected.

Regarding, a free office productivity suite that competes with Microsoft Office, Google and Sun had little to say. "We're going to work to make the distribution of \[\] more broad," Google CEO Eric Schmidt said, offering no details. The companies later said, however, that they would offer additional information about their efforts at a later date, raising the possibility that the companies only recently came across some technical difficulties with that effort.

What the companies did announce is almost mind-numbing in its simplicity: Since Java gets 20 million Java downloads a year, offering the Google toolbar to those users should help the visibility of Google, which gets most of its revenues now from advertisers that are fed from toolbar and Web-based searches. Meanwhile, Google is purchasing a bunch of huge Sun servers from which to drive its search engine.

The biggest news, of course, was barely spoken: Google and Sun are now working together and will collaborate on future products. That alone, should give product planners at Microsoft pause.

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