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Sun dangles discounts for Microsoft techs

Microsoft technology specialists can get up to 35 percent off Windows-certified Opteron servers and workstations.

SAN FRANCISCO--Touting its computers' new Windows compatibility, Sun Microsystems on Wednesday began offering discounts to Microsoft technology experts for machines that use Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron chip.

Under the three-month program, Microsoft-certified systems engineers and Microsoft certified professionals can receive discounts of up to 35 percent on some Windows-certified Opteron servers and workstations, the company said. Those experts are also eligible for a half-price version of Sun's Java Creator developer tool for Windows.

"We want people running Microsoft to take advantage of us," said John Fowler, executive vice president of Sun's Network Systems group, speaking to reporters at a meeting here. The promotion doesn't require purchasers to use Windows on the systems, which can also run Linux and Sun's version of Unix, called Solaris.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based server and software company long has been a rival to Microsoft, lambasting its monopoly power and tightly integrated software. But in April, Sun and Microsoft buried at least part of the hatchet, agreeing to make some of their software work better together.

Another major reversal at Sun has been the advocacy of computers that use x86 chips such as AMD's Opteron or Intel's Xeon. Sun now sells such systems alongside its older UltraSparc-based line but hasn't yet dented the dominance of Hewlett-Packard, Dell and IBM in that market.

Under the promotion, a Sun Fire V20z with two Opteron 244 chips and 2GB of memory costs $3,195; a four processor-capable V40z with two Opteron 848 chips and 4GB of memory costs $8,745; and a W1100z workstation with one Opteron 144 and 512MB of memory costs $1,495.

Sun also announced a separate promotion with discounts up to 25 percent for customers who buy four or 10 of the V40z servers.