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School's in session for Sun

The computing systems manufacturer kicks off a campaign to win customers in the education market by offering hardware discounts and a new omnibus software license.

Sun Microsystems is majoring in education.

The computing systems manufacturer on Monday kicked off a campaign to win customers in the education market by offering hardware discounts and a new omnibus software license, dubbed the Sun EduSoft Portfolio. The portfolio includes a broad range of Sun software as well as support and training services, and quarterly software updates--all at steep discounts.

The discounts for Sun software and support reach as high as 60 percent, while hardware discounts will come to as much as 42 percent off list prices, the company said in a statement.

The pricing action is part of an effort by Sun to make further inroads in the vast education market. One clear goal is to stay ahead of competitors such as Microsoft, which sells operating systems and other software used by educators. Dell Computer, which manufactures desktop and server computers based on Intel processors and Microsoft or Linux operating systems, is another rival.

Last week, Microsoft said it would create a special version of its Visual Studio.net software development tool and supply research grants totaling $3.5 million to computer science programs at colleges and universities.

Sun will discount its Sun Ray family, which includes its Sun Ray 100 and Sun Ray 150 "thin client" computers, by as much as 42 percent for education customers who buy the complete suite of Sun Ray hardware and software, the company said in a statement. Thin clients are computing terminals whose applications and data run off a centralized server, unlike desktop PCs, which store applications and data locally.

The company said it would also offer special education pricing on its SunFire 280R server and Sun Blade 2000 workstation.

Under the EduSoft license, institutions will have access to software ranging from Sun's Solaris operating system to its StarOffice suite for creating and editing documents.

The announcement comes ahead of a meeting with analysts on Monday and Tuesday where Sun executives are slated to discuss the company's strategy.