McNealy bashes Microsoft smart card OS

Microsoft's move into smart cards might be bad news for Sun, but it's good news for blue jeans manufacturers, says Sun CEO Scott McNealy. Their sales will increase as users buy replacement jeans with pockets large enough to carry a Microsoft Windows-based smart card, he has told a Paris audience. In his long tradition of one-liners at Microsoft's expense, McNealy began: 'Microsoft is now talking about the digital nervous system - I guess I would be nervous if my system was built on their technology too.'

Sun Microsystems chairman, CEO Scott McNealy did not depart from his normal anti-Microsoft banter in his keynote address to the assembled crowd at Networld Interop trade show in Paris today.

He opened with a new one-liner about Microsoft's new advertising slogan: "Microsoft is now talking about the digital nervous system," quipped McNealy. "I guess I would be nervous if my system was built on their technology too."

McNealy spent much of his 45 minute speech criticising what he called Microsoft's fat client/thin server computing model while advocating Sun's thin client/huge server approach. McNealy demonstrated Sun's vision for the ultimate in thin client computing, where mobile employees would simply carry around a Java-based smart card. Using the smart card, users could access all of their files via the Web with a Java browser. "This is the network access device going forward in the computer business," said McNealy.

McNealy slammed Microsoft's entry into the smart card arena that the software giant announced recently from Paris. Microsoft announced a new operating system designed to run on smart cards, going head-to-head with Sun's Java card.

McNealy's emphasis on the Java card today was seen by some in the audience as a reaction to Microsoft entering an area where Sun's Java has been leading. IBM, Visa International and Groupe Bull have all announced plans to release Java-based smart cards, and McNealy claimed that more than 90%of all smart card manufacturers are going with Java.

While Microsoft's move into smart cards might be bad news for Sun, it is good news for blue jeans manufacturers, said McNealy. Their sales will increase as users buy replacement jeans with pockets large enough to carry a Microsoft Windows-based smart card, he said.

McNealy also waded into the legal case against Microsoft by saying: "Janet Reno and Joel Klein have one heck of a case against Microsoft that's going to make the Nixon tapes and Clinton video look tame."

McNealy also discussed Sun's much-heralded Jini platform, which Sun claims will allow any appliance to be attached to a network. "Jini will fundamentally allow you to network any appliance. It will be 'lug and work,' spontaneously connecting to the network," promised McNealy.

After the talk, McNealy answered questions posed by journalists about the expected availability of Jini. "Jini is available right now on the 'Net," he said. "It's where Java was three months before we announced Java," said McNealy. "It's explosive. I don't want to predict how big this is going to be."

Sun will announce in January which directory service it will go with for Jini -- Novell Inc.'s NDS or Netscape Communication Corp.'s LDAP directory service. But McNealy added: "There's no reason to limit it to one thing or the other." Novell has said that the company is working with Sun on Jini.

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