SAN FRANCISCO: Sun Microsystems is changing tracks. It is shelving plans to sell its Linux-based Java Desktop System for desktops.
JDS will, however, continue to be there as a product, but as part of Solaris operating system and targeting programmers than end users.
Sun’s executive vice president of software, John Loiacono, told news persons, “You’re going to see less of an emphasis on JDS on Linux. The strategy has changed slightly.”
When Sun launched the project three years ago, JDS was meant to be used both in servers and Linux-based PCs, a combination that would have been cost-effective compared with the Windows OS. It had then announced that a server and 100 PCs using the JDS would cost about $300,000 over five years.
The concept apparently did not click. The company has now made it official that it is “shifting” its marketing emphasis away from JDS for Linux as a way of “targeting resources”.
Loiacono said the focus henceforth will be on JDS for Solaris and Sun Rays. “Right now the developer is using a Sun Ray or a Solaris device.”
How the company will handle customers who have already signed for Linux-based desktops is not certain. For example, the China Standard Software Company had in 2003 contracted to buy 200 million copies of the Linux-based desktop for sale in China. The UK’s National Health Service too has purchased licenses for 5,000 copies after an eight-month trial of the Linux desktop.
Sun’s decision may have something to do about doubts expressed about the viability of Linux as a desktop OS. Though analysts had predicted a rosy picture for the open source software, there is lack of enthusiasm in using Linux mainly because of absence of desktop productivity applications for business / home use. While it is effective on servers, in a field where Microsoft has near total monopoly, it is a losing game.
Alongside, Solaris has become a popular application among developers and naturally Sun would want to capitalize on this. The launch of Solaris 10, OpenSolaris and IBM’s decision to use Solaris 10 for its web sphere, Rational, Tivoli and DB2 software are not just coincidental.
“It’s a way of targeting our resources. With the re-invigoration of Solaris, ISVs are saying ‘you have a platform’. It’s open source, you have new tools and NetBeans which is good – that makes it something that’s viable,” said Loiacono on the decision to change the focus.