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[rr] Sun Ready to Push Linux as Alternative to Microsoft

>From NY Times: 

Sun Ready to Push Linux as Alternative to Microsoft

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 17 - Sun Microsystems plans to throw its weight behind 
the "open source" software movement on Wednesday as part of an industry 
effort to offer an alternative to Microsoft's Windows and Office programs.

 Sun's challenge, based on the Linux alternative to Windows-based software, 
is a daunting one, according to industry analysts, because Microsoft's Office 
suite of word-processing, spreadsheet and other software applications is 
pervasive in the corporate computing world. 

 Yet Sun executives said they believed that Microsoft was vulnerable in 
cost-sensitive markets like large corporate call centers, which provide 
things like customer service; retail banking organizations; and government 
and educational institutions. 

 "The industry is ready," said Jonathan Schwartz, executive vice president 
for software at Sun. "There is a great opportunity for a major systems 
company to commercialize a full Linux desktop." Sun plans to promote the 
Linux operating system along with Sun's own line of StarOffice applications 

 Mr. Schwartz said Microsoft was also at risk because many organizations were 
frustrated with computer security issues that continued to plague the 
company's software. 

 Sun, which plans to announce the new strategy at a conference for its 
customers on Wednesday, said it would begin shipping the new products in the 
next nine months. 

 Although the Linux operating system for file-sharing server computers has 
proved a viable alternative to Microsoft and other vendors in the 
price-conscious part of corporate computing, Linux has not yet made 
significant inroads among nontechnical personal computer users.

 But a number of executives who are involved with open-source software said 
that Linux was beginning to catch on among the nontechnical users. One reason 
for that, they said, was that Microsoft had changed its pricing for corporate 
and government organizations in recent months to a subscription model, which 
many customers say has effectively raised the cost of the company's software.

 "When Microsoft changed their pricing policy for enterprise customers," said 
David Patrick, the president and chief executive of Ximian, a partner of Sun, 
"it sent a strong message. And since then our activity has increased 
exponentially." Ximian publishes open-source software, including Gnome 
desktop applications and Ximian Evolution, a competitor to Microsoft Outlook.

 For Sun, a computer maker and software company that has been struggling 
along with the dot-com and telecommunications industries, offering an 
inexpensive alternative to Microsoft's products is an effort to find new 

 Mr. Schwartz argues that besides having lower licensing fees than Microsoft, 
the open-source alternative based around Linux and Sun's own StarOffice 
program will also offer other indirect cost savings.

 "We can support 2,000 users with one system administrator at Sun," he said. 
"It requires in the neighborhood of one administrator for every 50 users in 
the Windows world."

 But he said Sun had no immediate plans to try to compete with Microsoft for 
the heart of its user base: white-collar workers and managers.

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September 2010