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Sun exec cools threats to MS

Ed Zander, president of Sun's hardware unit, backpedaled on Sun chief Scott McNealy?s Monday threat to cut off MS?s Java license.

    SAN FRANCISCO--A key Sun Microsystems (SUNW) executive today backed off comments made Monday by Sun chief executive Scott McNealy, who had appeared to threaten Microsoft (MSFT) with pulling its license for the Java programming language.

    "We are very concerned about [Microsoft's] contractual commitments," Ed Zander, president of Sun's hardware unit, Sun Microsystems Computer Company, told CNET's NEWS.COM after a keynote address at the Gartner Group's Intranet+Extranet conference here.

    "We are in discussions with Microsoft about its compliance with what's written down and agreed to," he added.

    McNealy had said in a CNBC television interview Monday that Sun might pull Microsoft's license for Java unless the software giant makes its implementation of Java consistent with that of other vendors.

    Zander also backed off optimistic projections from McNealy and Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison about how quickly NCs will be deployed.

    "I have said that 1997 is a year of pilot sites, and we have dozens of those with very large companies," he said. "In 1998, we'll see some very interesting rollouts."

    Zander positioned Sun's JavaStation NC primarily as a replacement device for users now using "dumb" terminals. "People need to remember that mainframes and PCs are not going away," Zander said. He noted that a full suite of NC software for most office applications does not yet exist.

    "We think there's an enormous opportunity for [NCs] in fixed-function applications," the hardware executive added. "And remember, Java can be wildly successful without NCs." He said that Federal Express recently asked for bids to supply 75,000 NCs to the express delivery company.