A New Day Dawns for Sun and Microsoft

Ending years of resistance, Sun Microsystems Inc. has finally agreed to be a Microsoft OEM.

By the end of this year, you'll be seeing something different in the market-Sun x64 servers bearing Windows Server 2003 stickers. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based giant announced in September that it will resell Windows, expanding on the 2004 alliance with Microsoft. The move represents a concession of sorts from Sun, which-particularly under former CEO Scott McNealy, who stepped down in 2006-held steadfast for years in its refusal to sell Windows on its servers.

Dollar for Dollar
Source: Microsoft-sponsored IDC study, October 2007

$7.79 Amount that Microsoft-related companies worldwide earned for every $1 that
Microsoft made (in U.S. dollars), 2007

$6.14 Amount that Microsoft-related companies in NortH America earned for every $1 that Microsoft made (in U.S. dollars), 2007

$16+ Amount that Microsoft related companies in China, India and Russia earned for every $1 that Microsoft made (in U.S. dollars), 2007

Both vendors have promised increased interoperability. In particular, Microsoft and Sun pledged that their respective operating systems would work well with each other's virtualization technologies. The companies will also build an interoperability center on Microsoft's campus in Redmond, Wash.

Anticipating something of a backlash from his company's more radically anti-Microsoft followers, Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz attempted to put the deal into perspective in a company blog. In a Sept. 16 entry, he wrote: "So do I think this deal is good for Sun? Absolutely-it opens more opportunity, puts our past behind us, and gets everyone focused on Sun's virtualization, Solaris and Sun's Systems portfolio-independently."

Schwartz also wrote that Sun has moved from being a non-player in the x64 space two years ago to being the fifth-largest x64 server vendor. Nevertheless, he writes, customers objected to what they perceived as Sun's reticence to work with Windows.

"But now it's time to open ourselves up to the entire market, to take the last objections off the table," Schwartz wrote.

By becoming a Microsoft OEM, Sun joins a host of other server vendors, such as Dell Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co., which sell Windows preinstalled on their hardware.

About the Author

Lee Pender is the executive features editor of Redmond magazine. You can reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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