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Sun users test out latest Solaris rendition

Sun Microsystems customers are testing the next incarnation of Solaris, its version of the Unix operating system. The final product is due next year.

Sun Microsystems customers have begun testing the next incarnation of Solaris, the company's version of the Unix operating system.

About 300 users of the software have begun testing Solaris 8, Sun said today. The final version is expected in the first half of 2000, said Sun's Graham Lovell. The new version will include better support of Java techology, the ability to spread jobs across "clusters" of 8 servers together instead of the current limit of 4, and will be more reliable, he said.

The new version of Solaris adds to the commotion in the area of server operating systems, the software that's in charge of computers. Some of that commotion is being caused by computers--expected to arrive in the second half of 2000--that will use Intel's Merced chip and other members of the "IA-64" family.

For one thing, Sun's archrival Microsoft said today it will begin beta testing its high-end version of Windows 2000 operating system at 300 sites next week.

And among the various flavors of Unix, Compaq has abandoned plans to sell its Tru64 version of Unix on Intel's IA-64 chips, meaning that Tru64 will be confined to Compaq's Alpha chips. Monterey, a project by IBM, Sequent, and Santa Cruz Operation, merged their respective versions of Unix into a new one for IA-64, and that's steaming ahead. And SGI has backed off its plan to move its Irix version to IA-64, instead of choosing to beef up the upstart Linux operating system, a cousin to Unix.

Sun has Solaris working on an IA-64 simulator, but not yet on prototypes of the new chips, a spokeswoman said.