Herbold to McNealy: Think about consumers

Sun Microsystems will benefit from advances in broadband that will occur because Microsoft is investing in companies like AT&T, a top Microsoft executive has said in response to the latest round of criticism from Sun chief Scott McNealy.

Sun Microsystems will benefit from advances in broadband that will occur because Microsoft is investing in companies like AT&T, a top Microsoft executive has said in response to the latest round of criticism from Sun chief Scott McNealy.

McNealy has said several times recently that Microsoft should not be allowed to invest in other high-tech companies using proceeds from its Windows operating system and applications, which McNealy contends have been derived through a monopoly.

Robert Herbold, Microsoft executive vice president and chief operating officer said during an interview session with IDG editors in Redmond, Washington, that McNealy's comments are off base.

"From a consumer standpoint, I don't understand why we should slow down (with these investments)," Herbold said. "I don't understand (McNealy's) comments and I don't think they have the consumer at heart."

Consumers will benefit from partnerships between Microsoft and networking companies because such deals will allow faster access to broadband capabilities such as voice over IP (Internet protocol), live sports and Internet connectivity via a single pipeline to a house, Herbold said.

"That's the dream," he said. "We want to see it become a reality faster. Our investments are to encourage these companies to make this happen quicker and to put our software in a position to play a role."

McNealy, Sun's chairman and chief executive officer, was asked his views regarding Microsoft in a question-and-answer format interview in the science and technology section of the current issue of Newsweek -- available online at http://www.newsweek.com -- and took the opportunity to blast the rival software maker.

His comments weren't necessarily new -- McNealy is infamous for making caustic public comments about Microsoft, sprinkling verbal jabs into keynote speeches and press conferences. Last month, McNealy spoke about Microsoft's investment in AT&T Corp. before the deal was officially announced, saying that Microsoft shouldn't be allowed to use its "monopoly money" obtained from selling Windows and its applications to invest in other high-tech companies.

In the more recent Newsweek interview, headlined "Microsoft's Slow Burn," McNealy was asked by Newsweek if the Sun and America Online Inc. alliance will provide an alternative to Microsoft and its Windows OS.

Such an alternative might happen in the future, but McNealy asserted it won't happen now because of the Microsoft monopoly, comparing it in a roundabout way to the Roman Empire.

"When I look at my dictionary under monopolist, in the margin there's a picture of Bill Gates," McNealy is quoted as telling Newsweek. "That's not an indictment. It's more of a commendation because whether you've gotten there legally or illegally, there are not many people who've gotten themselves into that position."

McNealy added that he believes the government should scrutinize companies like IBM Corp., AT&T and Microsoft.

"I hope someday to be in a position where they need to scrutinize us," he said. "I hope to get there legally and ethically and through good, hard competition."

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