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Sun, Microsoft to Provide Update on Relationship

A year after publicly declaring an end to their longstanding feud, Sun Microsystems and Microsoft plan a news conference on Friday to discuss progress in their relationship.

Sun Microsystems chairman and CEO Scott McNealy and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will hold the news conference on Friday in Palo Alto, Calif., at 9:30 a.m.

The pair of executives held a friendly joint news conference in April 2004 to first announce a deal to settle legal disputes, cooperate on technical specifications and stimulate new products.

At the time, McNealy said, "This agreement launches a new relationship between Sun and Microsoft -- a significant step forward that allows for cooperation while preserving customer choice."

The agreement involved nearly $2 billion in payments from Microsoft to resolve pending antitrust issues ($700 million) and patent issues ($900 million) and in up-front royalties for use of Sun technologies ($350 million). Sun was to make royalty payments of its own to Microsoft later when incorporating Microsoft technology into its server products.

The technical collaboration aspect of the deal is supposed to last 10 years and involves regular discussions between Microsoft chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates and Sun CTO Greg Papadopoulos, as well as regular meetings by engineering groups from both companies.

Technical cooperation was to initially center on making sure Sun server products would work better with Windows servers and Windows clients. Later, the companies were to turn their interoperability focus to e-mail and database software and management of identities, authentication and authorization.

Also,

  • Sun agreed to sign a license for the Windows desktop operating system communications protocols;
  • Sun permitted Microsoft to continue providing product support for its controversial Microsoft Java Virtual Machine;
  • Sun received Windows certification for its Intel Xeon-based servers and was working on similar certification for Sun Opteron-based servers;
  • and the companies agreed to improve technical collaboration between their Java and .NET technologies.

    The legal settlement involved Sun dropping a lawsuit against Microsoft in the United States, and withdrawing from future participation in the European Commission antitrust case.

    See also Redmond magazine's March Q&A with Sun CEO Scott McNealy.

  • About the Author

    Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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