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Sun has software plans for rival servers

Company branches out from its proprietary ways with Java system for Windows and HP's flavor of Unix.

Sun Microsystems announced on Tuesday that its Java Enterprise System, a collection of server software, will be available on two rivals' operating systems early next year.

Sun will sell its JES software for Hewlett-Packard's version of Unix, called HP-UX, and for Microsoft Windows in the first quarter of 2005, the company said. The software has only been available for Sun's Solaris version of Unix and for Red Hat's Linux.

The JES expansion isn't a surprise: In March, Sun's new chief operating officer, Jonathan Schwartz, said the company was planning the move. At that time, however, he said the new versions would arrive somewhat earlier, by the end of 2004.

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The expansion is one of several examples of Sun branching out from Solaris and its own UltraSparc processors--its now defunct "all the wood behind one arrowhead" strategy. The company now is certifying its servers for Windows; aggressively pushing Solaris on x86 chips such as Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron and Intel's Xeon; advocating Linux on desktop computers; and experimenting with Solaris on Intel's Itanium and IBM's Power processors.

The new directions, many of them led by Schwartz, are a response to Sun's financial troubles. From April through June, Sun finally reversed a 12-quarter declining revenue trend, though it wouldn't have been profitable without a $1.95 billion settlement from Microsoft.

Sun charges companies $100 per employee per year to use as much of the JES software as they want, a scheme that's intended to increase the popularity of the relatively unsuccessful software suite by providing lower and simpler pricing. The price is the same for all the versions, according to Sun.

Also on Tuesday, Sun is beginning a new promotion, one of several bundles of hardware, software and services that are bubbling up from the Schwartz administration. Customers who sign up for a $100-per-employee-per year subscription for JES also will get a dual-Opteron V20z server and "silver level" support.

And Sun is extending an offer of free JES to companies with fewer than 100 employees, letting it continue through the end of 2004.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company also announced that Saskatchewan-based SaskTel has signed up for a JES plan. The company has 4,300 employees, though in this case, the math is more complicated: 3,330 employees are covered in the $100-per-employee-per-year JES deal, Sun said.

The HP-UX version of JES is only for servers using HP's PA-RISC processor, which over a period of years is being replaced by Intel's Itanium. Sun also plans a version of JES for IBM's AIX version of Unix.