Sun’s McNealy announces Linux deal with Chinese government


Sun Microsystems Chief Executive Scott McNealy always seemed like he was tilting at windmills when he said Sun would challenge Microsoft’s dominance on the desktop computer.

But McNealy announced today that the Chinese government has pledged to deploy a million computers in the next year using Sun’s Linux desktop software. The cost: $50 per license for Sun’s desktop software, which includes its Star Office 7.0 productivity program that is a clone of Microsoft’s Office suite. Microsoft Office can cost more than $400 a copy.

The China Standard Software Co., a consortium of government-funded companies, selected Sun as its preferred technology partner to deploy Linux-based desktops. The deal is part of China’s deliberate policy to diversify away from Microsoft. Other governments in Europe and Asia have embraced a similar strategy, as has the state of Massachusetts. China has pledged to deploy 200 million copies of open standards-based desktop software.

“This I believe makes us the No. 1 Linux desktop play on the planet,” McNealy said today at the Comdex technology trade show in Las Vegas. “That’s not the only opportunity. We’re calling on every ministry of information technology on the planet.”

Sun has been demonstrating its Java Desktop System for the past year, which the company says it will begin shipping in December. At a later time, Sun will announce which hardware companies will ship systems with the Sun software on it, said John Loiacono, Sun’s vice president of operating systems.

The announcement was just one of several years-long strategic efforts that are coming to a head at Sun. Sun also announced a previously reported deal to create servers based on Advanced Micro Devices’ Opteron microprocessor. The strategic alliance will challenge Intel’s Itanium microprocessor.

Interesting sale, since last I heard the Chinese government was creating their own version of Linux called Red Flag Linux. Still good news for Sun at any rate.


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